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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on 3 March 2000
Scott Rohan takes all the glitter of the ordinary fantasy novel and transmutes by solid smithcraft. This story starts with a thunderclap, storms off in fury and ends breathlessly, with the sequel looming like clouds in the distance. He is a very good writer with a style all his own, rich but not obscure, erudite but not pedantic. His hero becomes more appealing instead of more distant as his powers grow. The gods are truly fearful and unpredictable, playing and joking with destinies yet bound by destiny themselves. Of the vast and awesome landscapes, of the histories and myths, he shows us incredibly much in so few pages, and leaves us yearning for more. So: the Ice is advancing to blot all life off the face of the World. Neighbouring peoples, who could be brothers, wage war and do not see the freezing danger. Into these besieged lands is launched a young man to whom there is more than meets the eye. He has it in him to be a great hero, but he has also a fierce temper, plus impatience, foolishness, generosity and other faults in plenty to get him into trouble and to make him lovable. Don't wait: read it.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 22 June 2011
Along with sequels Forge in the Forest and The Hammer of the Sun, The Anvil of the Ice forms the first part of Michael Scott Rohan's "Winter Of the Worlds" trilogy. I don't believe it is exaggeration to class this trilogy, and especially the first novel, as of the very top tier of fantasy fiction. Obvious comparisons can be drawn both on the basis of such a claim, and also on the themes of both trilogies, to Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings. Both draw heavily from Germanic, Scandinavian and particularly Norse mythology, but there the similarities end.

Whereas Tolkien's work is primarily mythological high fantasy involving flying dragons, walking tree-men and wizards who can cast lightning (tongue in cheek, but bear with me), Michael Scott's Rohan's fantasy series is somehow simultaneously more gritty, more human, and more British, but struck through with equal poetry. Where the high fantasy elements of Lord of the Rings give something of the comic-book baddie to Tolkein's villains (giant floating eyes, giant cave-trolls and ethereal sword-wielding horsemen), the characters and races in the Winter trilogy are more gritty and human. Tolkein's dwarves are met by Scott Rohan's stocky duergar of Northumbrian myth, his orcs by the Viking-esque Ekwesh, and his staff-wielding wizards by soot-caked smiths.

Michael Scott Rohan's trilogy is to The Lord of the Rings what The Dark Knight is to Batman, a grittier re-imagining of the fantasy landscape that inherits from and owes a lot to Tolkein but does not cheapen or ape it, nor become lost in its shadow. To write fantasy fiction in the Anglo Saxon world without acknowledging any influence from Tolkien would be forced and crippling - the approach taken by Michael Scott Rohan shows a positive engagement with Norse mythology that is absent in the vast majority of fantasy fiction. It is my impression that Scott Rohan's trilogy resembles Tolkien not because it is drawn from it, but because he has been inspired by it to re-examine the same root sources of the mythology as Tolkien did when he wrote his trilogy. It is a difference that marks this trilogy out from the lazier boilerplate fantasy fiction that abounds, homogenous and indiscernible, in modern fiction. A difference that is apparent from the inclusion of concepts and ideas from Germanic mythology absent from Tolkien, such as the lead character's similarities to Wayland the Smith of The Poetic Edda, and the central role of the Tarnhelm, a re-imagined inclusion from Wagner's Das Rheingold. A difference also that is apparent in the author's nonfiction work on the Vikings, The Hammer and the Cross.

Tolkien's trilogy has attained the status of high fiction as a result not only of it being the first major work of fantasy fiction to tie together strands of Germanic mythology in a modern novel of such scope, but because of the depth of his research into the mythology that informed it, and the perceived commentary - intentional or not - of his wasted Middle-Earth on modern-day atomic weaponry and industrialisation. I find Scott Rohan stands shoulder to shoulder with Tolkien on every count. His writing style is captivating, his plot gripping, his mythology informed, and his imagined wasting of Nordeney by The Ice as powerful a commentary on climatic change as Tolkien's wasted Middle Earth was on industrial development and pollution.

If you believe that modern fantasy fiction has lost its way, this book might go some way to restoring your faith. Anvil of Ice is an under-read masterpiece that you will be the richer for having read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 4 November 2014
I wanted to like these books - I really did. Others who have given this series rave reviews seem to put Michael Scott Rohan on a par with some of my favourite authors - Tolkien, Guy Gavriel Kay, Julian May; indeed, several authors whom I admire have themselves recommended this book (Andre Norton, Anne McCaffrey).

So, I stuck with this first book all the way through and started the second (Forge in the Forest), hoping that I would start to 'get it' ... but I found myself skimming more and more lengthy passages of nothing-much-happening until finally I just had to give up.

It's hard to say why I just couldn't immerse myself in this tale. I did like the idea of the magical aspects of smithcraft and appreciated the mythological undertones (e.g. echoes of Volund/Weyland and his elusive swan-maiden). The characters, however, just didn't become real to me and, as a result, I didn't care about them.

Bottom line: the individual components are good, but their combined result somehow left me with the same slight sense of disconnection that I experienced reading Sean Russell's Swan Trilogy - if you liked that, you may well like this, too. Maybe it's just me...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 30 January 2014
I first read this novel in the 1980s, when it came out. Back then, I was a fantasy nut, reading little else other than historical fiction. I gradually fell out of love with the fantasy genre as it filled with increasing numbers of trashy books copying Tolkien and the better authors in the field. I purged my shelves of all but a few fantasy series, including novels by Tolkien (obviously), Guy Gavriel Kay, Julian May and Michael Scott Rohan. How such a wonderful author can have escaped the notice of so many is beyond me. I must have read this book and its two sequels a dozen times, and on each occasion, I love it more.
Quite simply, it's a must read.
Ben Kane, author of the Spartacus and Hannibal novels.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 26 November 2003
This is one of the best books in the fantasy genre - definitely one to which the phrase "well crafted" could be applied. Rohan's use of language is exquisite and he brings to life his characters with apparent ease. Added to this, the story is well plotted and has some surprising twists in it.
All in all - a book to read again and again and again.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
This is simply the best trilogy I have ever read. It hits all the right fantasy buttons: great back story, great original characters, great story, great mythology, great magic system. Each book is strong and disctinctive in its own right and fits perfectly well into the over all story arc. There is no sense of shoe-horning the story into a trilogy to extend the commercial advantage of a successful 1st book.

This is the only MSR book I have read having given up on a few of his others but this is just perfect. I read all 3 over other year or so and it is always a page turner.

Highly recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
This is a great start to an excellent series of books that, like Tolkien, hark back to the myths and legends that inspired the genre, rather than being derivative of the established genre itself. The setting is intriguing (though I don't quite 'believe' it) and the central role of smithcraft is written brilliantly, and the saga of the hero quite enthralling.

Not to be compared to 'modern' fantasy (Martin, Erikson), this is a great example of the classical style, and for those who enjoy that--and not just the pale imitations of Brooks and Feist--it, and the sequels, are a treat.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 12 June 2010
I picked up this trilogy second hand on a whim and I'm very glad I did. The first book has the stately feel of a Germanic epic, but the characters are interesting and well created. It borrows from the tradition without slavishly copying it, which made for a more interesting book in my opinion. I did find the occasional metatextual interjections stating that the story was taken from an ancient text to be slightly irritating as they interrupted the flow of the narrative, but otherwise I thoroughly enjoyed this book.
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on 28 February 2008
What a book! What a trilogy!

It's probably a cliché to say it, but to me this book is up there with Lord of the Rings and the first two Chronicles of Thomas Covenant.

The book is so well-written. The language gives a sense of place, and the depth of history, mythology and character really creates an atmosphere of realism. The characters are three-dimensional, gritty, flawed, realistic. The drama is non-stop. The story flows. The twists and turns are excellent and well thought out. The second and third instalments are equally as impressive, and are comfortably part of an epic overall story, rather than afterthoughts to cash in on the initial success.

Intelligent, fresh and refreshing; I can't recommend it highly enough.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 27 May 2014
...and since I'm the author, what else could I say? But at least I can use the space to thank all the readers worldwide who've bought this book for nearly thirty years.

Cheers,

Mike Scott Rohan
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