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Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Cry of the Icemark (Icemark Chronicles #1) by Stuart Hill

Cry of the Icemark
The version I read.

 The Icemark is a kingdom in grave danger. Its king has been killed in battle, its enemy lies in wait, and its fate rests on the shoulders of one girl. Thirrin Freer Strong-in-the-Arm Lindenshield, a beautiful princess and an intrepid warrior, must find a way to protect her land from a terrible invasion. She will forge an extraordinary alliance of noble Snow Leopards, ancient Vampires, and ferocious Wolf-folk. She will find unexpected strength in her friendship with a young warlock. And she will lead her allies to victory with her fierce battle cry: "Blood! Blast! And Fire!"
The Cry of the Icemark (The Icemark Chronicles)
The better cover.
First Look: ***** This book had a fairly interesting premise. It sounded a tad archetypal, but I figured I'd give it a try. I still have no idea what's up with the hair on the spear on the cover.

Setting: *****  
Frankly, I didn't learn much about the setting.  It was interesting enough, with the vampires and werewolves and all, but in the end I really had no idea what the setting was all about. It was just the same old fantasy kingdom that had not much to it.

Characters: *****  
Our main character, Thirrin, wasn't likable at all.  In fact, I couldn't stand her.  She was obnoxious and arrogant and just an all-around spoiled brat.  She did nothing but order people around, and always got her way.  She was not brave or heroic, or anything.  People just gave her credit because she was a princess.  She didn't do anything.  Oskan was okay, but he seemed so...random.  One minute it was like "I've never seen you before; you're just a random princess" and the next it was "You're my best friend and I might possibly have a crush on you even though I don't think I've even gone through puberty yet".  Let me make this clear, people: ordering someone around does not make them your friend.  All Thirrin did was order Oskan around, but yet they were best of friends? What? And let's face it: a whole army of adults isn't going to follow the orders of some random kid they've never met. The characters just didn't make sense.

Plot: ***** 
Sure, there was this huge war going on, and the kingdom was at stake. But there was nothing to make me care one bit. There was no emotion.  The battle scenes just felt flat and boring.  Battle scenes should be everything but boring.  There was no action, either, in the battle scenes.  It felt more like reading a history book than a novel.  Some parts of the battles didn't even make sense.  They were losing horribly, but...oh look, they're winning!  For no reason whatsoever!  There was no reason at all why the Icemark should have won that war.  It didn't make any sense.  There were logistical impossibilities that should've been fixed during editing, but they were just left there.  And the plot took forever to actually get going.  It was sooooo obvious that they were going to be attacked, but everyone doubted it until the last minute.  It just flat-out didn't work.

Here's a lesson for fantasy authors: If a fifteen-year-old kid can tell right away that it wasn't physically possible for the good guys to win the war, and, if asked, could tell you exactly how and why, you have an issue.

Uniqueness: *****
It's hard to say, here.  If the plot had been more engaging and the characters more realistic, then maybe this would've felt unique to me.  But since it just fell flat, I honestly can't get a "there's no book like this" feeling.

Writing: *****
The entire narrative felt extremely disconnected from the plot.  Again, it was like reading a history book.  You're aware of the plot going on, but there's no reason for you to care and there's nothing to engage yourself in.  The point of view would just switch suddenly, mid-chapter, for no reason at all.  The battle scenes had no detail at all for me to know what was going on.  And again, there were little impossibilities that just made no sense.

Not much at all.  The snow leopard thing was interesting, but it didn't work for me.  Something one of the leopards said made me think of the Island of Misfit Toys, so from then on my mind read the Leopard King's dialogue with the voice of the king of the Island of Misfit Toys.  That was quite amusing.

The mythical creatures just didn't act like...mythical creatures.  They started out all majestic and we're-so-much-more-epic-than-the-puny-humans, but then they just started acting like humans in different forms.  And the kitten...what was the point of that?  What kind of war cry is "Out!  Out!  Out!"?  It reminds me of that one poem, Out, Out, which is basically about a boy getting decapitated by a saw.  And finally, Christmas.  Ugh.  They were celebrating Christmas, which is all fine and nice, except that they had no reason to celebrate it.  They left out the first six letters of the word.  It was just mistletoe and presents.  That's not the point, people. 

Total Score: 
I debated between two and one stars, so it's more like a 1.5, but I'm not feeling mean enough today to give it one lonely star. This book is not recommended. Battle scenes that should've been intense and engaging were just boring. It felt similar to reading a history book.  The main character was whiny and a spoiled brat.  Some things just didn't make any sense at all. I won't bother with the sequel. This was tough enough to get through.


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