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on 11 August 2009
Ice Land is an interesting twist of the historical novel form. Betsy Tobin attempts to bring together many different aspects of the history of Iceland through the characters of Freya, fulla, and Dvalin - goddess, mortal, and dwarf (half-breed), respectively.

Frey pursues the Brisingamen, Fulla is caught up in a feud, and Dvalin is torn between worlds. Eventually, the story reveals how their three lives are intertwined in more ways than one. In the background, Mount Helka builds up to an eruption that changes everything for everyone.

I only had two problems with this book:
1) the Norns are used to present mini geology lessons between chapters:
"The crust it encounters is not seamless, but a series of curved plates that fit together like a puzzle."

and, 2) the Norse gods are portrayed as incestuous and dysfunctional as the Greek pantheon. While the Aesir and Vanir had their issues, I felt that Tobin took a lot of liberties with Odin and the rest.

If you would like another historical book with the adventures of a strong Norse woman, read The Far Traveler: Voyages of a Viking Woman. However, for more information about Norse mythology and traditions, I strongly suggest Myths of the Norsemen: From the Eddas and Sagas and Myth and Religion of the North: The Religion of Ancient Scandinavia.
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on 23 February 2008
Ice Land is contemporary faerie tale (without the faeries) where the landscape is as much a driving force in the novel and its community of characters. Tobin's style is tight. Her language is plain, and the narrative is driven by a certain amount of lust and longin and a deep sense of place. It was a treat to be taken by this author's safe pair of hands into this kind of Iceland.

It is a wonderful read.
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on 20 January 2016
Great book! A cracking story, drawing on all sorts of Icelandic mythology, but with the people talking and acting like real people, apart from all being very beautiful, very small, very quiet, very magic etc. The love stories are satisfyingly difficult and they seem like they're not going to make it - spoiler alert - there are happy endings. I do love a happy ending, when the story merits it. The amazing and unique Icelandic landscape is well evoked and is a big part of the story. The women have significant conversations and make their own decisions. The blokes are all heroes or villains - but have characters. It cracks along and really is a good read. I have been to Iceland and am going again because it's such a strange and mysterious place; the book has made me think I need to research more about the island's people, history and literature. But it is very accessible. I actually turned David Attenboro off so I could read the middle bit....well done Betsy Tobin. I wish I could write like that.
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on 9 February 2012
This book is a true masterpiece of Norse mythology and human nature set in the dramatic landscape of Iceland. It is a retelling of the Norse goddess Freya's desire for the famed Brisingamen necklace crafted by 4 dwarves. Yet this tale is interwoven with the tale of a young Viking woman struggling with societies marital demands of her and the needs of her heart for a man she cannot have. It explores Freya's character as she must give her body to each of the dwarves in return for the necklace the fates have told her will save Iceland from destruction, yet it is with one dwarf in particular of the four brothers that does not take Freya so eagerly and the pair travel and encounter other mythological beings from the Norse Pantheon as they try to return to the Dwarves realm in order to fulfil the bargin.

All the characters are wonderfully crafted and the strong emotions involved with them all connect seamlessly to create a wondrous tale of love, desire and the changing of times.
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on 13 May 2008
This is a beautiful novel (both in its content and cover design) based on Icelandic mythology. It is let down slightly by the ending and its lack of pace at some points, but if you are interested at all in Iceland and/or Norse mythology and/or fairy tales and fantasy fiction as genres, then I would recommend this novel very highly!
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on 13 March 2008
I picked up this book by chance in a small bookshop in Marlborough. The book called to me. I read the first two sentences and knew that it was everything I needed from a book right then. It has magic and transformation and feather cloaks and swan maidens, giants and dwarves and a tightness of spare writing that drives the plot. It is beautiful and magical and a masterpiece, where the landscape is as much a character in the book as any of the people. And it has love. Perfect.
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on 24 April 2016
This is a terrific book. Marvellous characters existing in a tumultuous landscape. Part real part legend, if you like an adventure this is the book for you. It's a grown up adventure story. I loved it.
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on 3 November 2009
This book is fantastic, a mixture of mythology, love, family feuds, magic and dwarves.
i cant go into detail but all ill say is this is a fantastic book and i advise anybody to buy it! :D
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on 8 April 2008
Ice Land is a gripping tale set in a beautifully drawn landscape of mountains, caves and volcanoes, which will be unfamiliar to many of us. I can imagine this book appealing across the age spectrum.
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on 18 April 2015
Very enjoyable
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