Ice Land by Betsy Tobin

Read: 26 December, 2011

It’s the end of the world. Christianity is growing in Iceland, threatening the power of the old gods, and the land itself seems to be in revolt. Meanwhile, two star-crossed lovers fight against the feud that divides their two families against a landscape that is both real and mythical.

There are two stories being told in Ice Land, that of Fulla and her growing love for Vili. Theirs is a Romeo and Juliet story, their families feuding, perpetually seeking revenge on each other in a never ending cycle. Meanwhile, we have Freya’s quest for a magical necklace that has the power to end the apocalypse, preventing the destruction of the world.

I enjoyed the story, or at least I feel like I should have. Despite a fairly standard outline, Tobin does manage to take her two stories in a fairly unique direction. In particular, I enjoyed the way that she tried to mingle the real world with the world of mythology, making the one seem plausible and the other magical.

But maybe I just read the book at the wrong time. I found that I simply couldn’t lose myself in the story and I rushed to finish towards the end. I do suspect that the problem was with me, though, since I can’t think of anything that could have turned me off.

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Saga by Jeff Janoda

Read: 1 April, 2010

In Medieval Iceland, two farmers fight over a piece of land. When Ulfar turns to a local chieftain for help, he sets in motion a series of events, of schemes and counter-schemes, that will not be put to rest until much blood has been spilled and the political landscape of Swan’s Fjord has been changed forever.

Saga is a wonderful book based on the old Icelandic sagas. The story is fantastic and the storytelling does it justice. Janoda manages to build and maintain suspense. and the climax is masterfully pulled off. He also manages to capture the element of “cabin fever” in a landscape that forces families to be indoors for many months each year. This was one of those books that I felt sad to finish, wishing it could have kept going. Definitely a rare treasure of a book and highly recommended!

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The Blue Fox by Sjon

Read: 10 December, 2009

In 19th century Iceland, a priest hunts for a mythical blue fox and a girl with Down’s Syndrome is mourned by her admirer. These two seemingly unrelated stories interweave into a poetic whole.

It’s an enchanting tale, a modern myth, that might have worked nearly as well in verse. The story is short, easily read in an hour or two, and interesting lyrical look into Iceland’s recent past.

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