I am slowly working my way through this new-to-me series and I totally loving it. I finally finished the third book and am on hold for the fourth-I am so happy that I am not the only one to recently discover these gems. If you have not read the first two books and you plan to, you may want to stop reading now. I would hate to spoil the story for you. If you are looking for information about The Icebound Land, carry on. I won’t spoil anything for you, I promise!
The Icebound Land by John Flanagan, 2005
The third book in this series picks up where The Burning Bridge left off. Will and Evanlyn have been kidnapped by the Skandians and will be sold as slaves if they survive the treacherous ocean crossing. Back in Araluen, a devastated Halt is forced to defy the king in order to keep his promise to rescue his young apprentice. Banished from the Rangers, he sets out to search for Will. He is soon joined by Horace, Will’s friend and an apprentice knight. It is not long before the travellers encounter trouble in the form of a black-clad knight who is the ruthless warlord of the frozen northern territories. As Halt and Horace plan their escape, Evanlyn works on freeing Will not only from the grueling life of slavery, but the deadly grip of a powerful drug used to control slaves.
These books just keep getting better and better. This installment of the series is told in chapters that alternate between Halt and Horace and Will and Evanlyn. My favorite chapters were the ones with Halt and Horace. With his wry humor and gruff exterior that covers a heart of gold, Halt has become my favorite character. The banter between Halt and Horace is entertaining and lightens the mood of the book, but does not compromise the seriousness of their situation. Horace is eager to please the Ranger, and learns some valuable lessons about strategy, patience, and honor from the older man. He is deeply affected by the cruelty of the dishonorable black knight and learns a great deal about chivalry from both Halt and the villainous warlord.
As for Will and Evanlyn, they too learn about human cruelty. However, they are also treated with kindness from a surprising source. Their chapters are suspenseful and heartbreaking as Evanlyn is required to take charge of their situation. I enjoyed watching her transformation as she sheds the last of her royal airs and becomes the strong friend that Will needs.
Fans of the series will not be disappointed and the ending guarantees that readers will want book 4, The Battle for Skandia.
If you are like me and have to wait for the next book, what do you read? Try one of Cinda Williams Chima’s fantasy series. Start with either the Warrior Heir or The Exiled Queen (those are the first titles in her two series). If you are looking for adventure you might enjoy Garth Nix’s Keys to the Kingdom series.
I personally will be finishing up Red Glove by Holly Black and then heading to the towering TBR pile…maybe The Vespertine by Saundra Mitchell? Decisions, decisions…
**UPDATE** After writing this review the other day, I did finish Red Glove (loved it!) and started The Vespertine, which I should finish today. Weekend reading? I am thinking a graphic novel marathon session!