The Ice Crown by Sean Beech
Review by Floresiensis
For nearly three hundred years now the Moon lands have known peace. But the Ice Crown of Man been stolen and also the Ancient Howl of the Fennigan Wolves. Their theft robs both races of the power to unite their peoples! But who is responsible; the mysterious Fey; the magical Mages or the lands’ erstwhile enemy, the dreaded Dark Knights?
The Ice Crown blew me away; full to the brim with much that is fresh and original. Sean Beech showcases an imagination that sets him apart from the mainstream; this is a work of exemplary style and substance. Robin Hobb is an author that I hold in the highest regard, one of the finest exponents of character-driven fantasy. Sean Beech does not pale by comparison.
The story opens well and we are quickly and efficiently introduced to the major characters in the story, characters that are instantly lifelike and well realised. This is a strength that helps the reader to become quickly drawn into the Land of the Moon and the events that have, and will, transpire. The Ice Crown is, as already mentioned, very strong on characterisation; there is not a weak character to be found - we have Morkin; the level headed and kind-hearted prince; Luxor, his powerful and loyal protector and friend. Add to this an unforgettable fat tax collector called Grabbit and the carefree 150-year-old mage called Ranabin and you have the foundations upon which this fine tale unfolds.
After the fine opening I thought The Ice Crown might settle down into the regular fantasy formula… I was wrong. It was here that the author impressed me most with the introduction to the story of the wolves, or to give them their full title, the Wolves of Fennigan - an intelligent race, capable of speech, and integral to the story. It was moments like this that made the book so enjoyable – just when you thought you had a handle on the story the author goes up another gear and surprises and delights in equal measure.
“So they had hunted, like they had in the past, before man had come to these lands. They had stalked their prey, keeping downwind to close the distance. Smelling it, delighting in its scent and the taste it would surely bring to their hungry mouths when they finally caught it.”
The Ice Crown: Chapter 4
The motives behind the writing of this book (see below) are admirable. I would recommend this book very, very highly to any fantasy fan.
50% of the author’s profits from the sale of this book will be donated to the independent charity, the National Literacy Trust; to help change lives through literacy. Sean Beech believes that every child and adult should be encouraged and supported in his or her desire to learn and read.
"I am determined in whatever way I can to help improve the reading standards for all in this country, and to that end 50% of my profits from the sale of this and any future works will be donated to charities involved solely in the pursuit of this goal." Sean Beech
Muhammed from Iran
Given this as a gift from a friend when I left uni. It has spent the best part of a year on my bedside cabinet untouched in various locations around the world since. Did not like the cover and only kept it because of the sentiment. Finally decided to read it and was hooked straight away. Really liked the character driven plot and the way the author has a chapter for each which then link so well together near the end. Was looking for the second book and found this website advertising it and thought I would leave a review. My favourite species have to be the Wolves of Fennigan - a truly noble race that have lost their way. A bit like Persia really.
Lucy from Portsmouth
Exciting, imaginative, unique, inventive - just a few of the adjectives I could use but the one to best describe this is WOW.
Paul from Tunbridge Wells
The Ice Crown - the title sort of put me off conjuring up images of a rehashed fantasy plot that had been beaten to death years ago. So the book stayed in the bookshop for over a year and every time I visited there it was. Eventually I relented and opened the cover and read the blurb. Different? You bet. Instead of giving you a small taste of the plot the author asks you questions. Questions you suddenly find that you want to know the answer to. And before I knew it I was hooked the book was bought and read. It starts slow - the pace being wound up as the scene is set. But the thing that draws you in is the fact that you know there is going to be so much more. This feels like the opening credits in a longed for epic. Now on the surface that might sound rather dull and pointless but hear me out. These are not normal credits - these are packed full of adventure, intrigue, humour and guile. In short they answer the question but ask so many more - they make you read on and want to experience the whole story. I also love the way Sean Beech has set out his story. Each chapter is about a different character and as the stories progress the charcaters begin to merge. It is almost like a mini series of stories rolling into one and to think the entire book only covers 7 days in the lives of these people makes me relish what is still to come in book 2. I would recommend this to anybody. Not the best book in the world by a long way but an author with a very talented creative mind.
John from Belfast
Was given this as a gift last year. It, like many other books gathered dust on my bookshelf awaiting my enthusiasm to read it. Thankfully the cover caught my eye again last week and I pulled it free, dusted it down and delved within the pages. Four hours later I emerged from a wonderfully painted fantasy realm that beggars belief. The author manages to paint scenes and images so vividly you can actually see them in your head. You can feel the fear, smell the scents and taste the environment. My favourite part was when Ranabin meets the Stone Trolls and awakens in a sulphuric cavern. The way the author manages to weave the words to form what can only be compared to an oil painting by a master has to be seen to be believed. I am a great fan of Terry Pratchett and the way he manipulates the English language so beautifully - well Sean Beech does not pale in comparision. The reviewer here compares his style to Robin Hobb and whilst I cannot disagree I would say I prefer this book to hers.
Dave Harris from London
Our teacher brought this into our school. She said she had met the author and thought some of us boys would like it. I was not sure at first as the story started a bit slow for my liking but halfway through the first chapter the pace quickened and by the time I met the wolves of Fennigan I was hooked. I loved the hunt scene - it felt as if you were the wolf chasing the deer. "Its fear hung in the air as the wolves closed in on their quarry... The blood pumping into his mouth as his teeth sunk into the soft velvety flesh." Easily the best book I have ever read... and I include Harry Potter and the The Spook's Apprentice - two of my favourites - in that.
Sion Harper from Taunton
Have to concur really with everything already said. Would love to know more about the Wolves of Fennigan. They are worthy of a series all of their own. Cannot wait until second in the trilogy.
Joseph Cox from Aberdeen
Nothing short of fabulous. I have rarely if ever been surprised by a fantasy book. Most now usually follow the same stale format and a plot which you can predict with a great deal of accuracy. This was fresh, invigorating and surprising. A truly wonderful imagination - a character driven plot that heeps you guessing and has you on the edge of your seat. In short a wonderful debut and an author to look out for.
Fern Bamber from Liss
Having lost Harry I decided to look for something new and different to read. I bought this from the author in Portsmouth where he was having a signing, mainly because of the blurb and reviews posted (which he had on a board). Three hours later I was totally hooked. I love the style of writing and have to agree with the review here that the plot is fabulous and driven wonderfully by characters that are truly unique. It is difficult for me to choose a favourite amongst them – Ranabin, a bungling 150 year old mage that behaves like a toddler - Lorigan, a female Fey full of intrigue, malice and mystery (cannot wait to find out what her part really is in the story) - Vangor, the Dark Knight's second in command, a truly vicious, despicable man and yet one you cannot help but like - but if pushed I would have to lean towards the Wolves of Fennigan, here the author has truly let his imagination run riot and they scare, enthral and captivate in equal measure. A wonderful debut and one well worthy of its recent nomination for the BFA's.
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