“Listen to me, for I have many stories to tell…”
2012 Edgar Award winning Icefall by Matthew J. Kirby will transport you into the frozen Nordic north in five minutes flat. The King is at war and in order to keep his children safe, he sends them away with his most trusted servants and warriors to a fjord that is fast freezing. The fjord is the perfect defensible location, but when too many things start going wrong it becomes a cell of cold deception.
“And how I fear that day, for I know that when I look into my betrayer’s face, I will see someone I thought I knew. And I will still love them.”
Harald, Solveig and Asa are the King’s children. Asa is the oldest and the fairest daughter, Harald is the oldest son and heir and Solveig… well, Solveig isn’t really sure who she is. All she knows is she’s not pretty like her sister, she’s overlooked by her father and she has no real place in his court. Her sister will be married off to gain the family standing and her brother will be King someday, but where does that leave her? Our story is told by Solveig who embarks on a journey of self-discovery.
Icefall is full of diverse characters. While Harald, Asa and Solveig are high born royalty, they are sent away with a motley crew of servants, slaves, guards and are even joined by Berserkers. Berserkers were fierce Norse warriors who wore bear pelts and fought in an trance-like state. They are tasked with keeping the King’s children safe until the war is over, but with food running low and a saboteur on the loose they may not all survive. Hilda the goat, Munnin the raven also play an important role in the unfolding story. I found myself appreciating the hidden gems Kirby cleverly hides inside each character. While Icefall isn’t terribly long (just over 300 pages) each of the ice bound cast are nicely developed.
I found myself engrossed in Solveig’s spiritual journey. It seems in some respect we are all Solveig at some point in our lives; lost in purpose, dejected and alone. Her journey of self discovery and discernment of the hidden qualities in others is an inspiring one. I found myself drawn to her sojourn and often couldn’t put the book down. The Norse mythology was also quite interesting as I have not read many pieces in the genre.
I thoroughly enjoyed Icefall and hope Kirby decides to grace our halls with more tales of Solveig and her family in the frozen north.