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3.98  ·  Rating Details  ·  4,005 Ratings  ·  743 Reviews
Trapped in a hidden fortress tucked between towering mountains and a frozen sea, Solveig, along with her brother the crown prince, their older sister, and an army of restless warriors, anxiously awaits news of her father's victory at battle. But as winter stretches on, and the unending ice refuses to break, terrible acts of treachery soon make it clear that a traitor lurks ...more
Hardcover, 324 pages
Published October 1st 2011 by Scholastic Press (first published September 1st 2011)
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Stephen A "Thing" is the old Norse word for "an assembly of the community", presided over by keepers of the law. generally on a hill or important location…moreA "Thing" is the old Norse word for "an assembly of the community", presided over by keepers of the law. generally on a hill or important location near a town. It's really an unfortunate word, because every time it's mentioned, I have to ask, "What thing are they talking about?!?"
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6th out of 17 books — 31 voters

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Community Reviews

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Aug 07, 2011 Jessica rated it really liked it
This was a different book than I expected. I'd talked to Matt Kirby about it a bit, which is how I scored an ARC, but for all our talk of skalds and eddas, there was very little talk of plot. For instance, I was under the impression (perhaps based on the cover pic) that it was an adventure (as in, the main character goes on a quest), and that it had fantastical elements.


Notice, I'm not saying that this is a bad thing, but it is definitely a different thing. I will be honest, I am frankly wa
Mar 20, 2012 Kelly rated it it was amazing
"And how I fear that day, for I know that when I look into my betrayer’s face, I will see someone I thought I knew. And I will still love them."

A Nordic king has gone to war. To protect his three children while he is away, he has sent them, with a small household, to a remote steading. Later, just before the fjord freezes over and shuts the steading in for the winter, he sends reinforcements: a force of berserkers who exist uneasily alongside the others who dwell there.

Our heroine is Solveig, th
Tamora Pierce
Jan 18, 2014 Tamora Pierce rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya-yr, historical
Solveig, her beautiful older sister and her younger brother, heir to the throne, have been sent to an isolated fort to be safe while their father battles an enemy who wanted to marry her sister. With them are a skald, or bard, some family servants, and some soldiers, including a berserker. Solveig thinks that as the middle child she has nothing to offer--she is plain, she is a girl--but the skald tells her she could learn to be one of the few female skalds. Thus, over the long winter when they a ...more
Dec 02, 2014 Valerie rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
More people need to read this. Really it’s such a great book. The writing was unique in a way that I liked. It wasn’t overly flourished, using big words and lenghty sentences to convey a message and yet it added to the story’s magic. When people scoff about YA and middle grade books I think of these kinds of books. They are worth reading even though it’s written for a younger audience. I just don’t know how authors can do it.

In this book we have Solveig who is the second daughter of the king but
With all the Rick Riordan obsessiveness and the focus on Greek/Roman/Egyptian mythology, I was REALLY excited to find a book that focuses on Norse mythology. Also really excited to find out that it was a mystery, and not set in contemporary times, and with a strong female protagonist and beautiful writing.

I listened to the audio book on this way (without knowing at first that it's narrated by my FAVORITEST audio book narrator, Jenna Lamia), and it was a great way to experience the book. First, b
Claire Legrand
Sep 07, 2011 Claire Legrand rated it it was amazing
I'm not sure what exactly it is about this book that made me love it so much. It could be Kirby's pristine, purposeful prose, which weaves a delicately gritty (yes) spell from page one.

Or maybe the heroine, courageous, determined, compassionate Solveig, whose journey from feeling worthless to realizing she's been more than worthwhile all along made me tear up on several occasions.

Or maybe the endearing array of secondary characters who populated this book and made it feel like home.

Or the gen
Brigid *Flying Kick-a-pow!*
Although this book is not very "action-packed," I found it very engaging. While it may not have a lot going on in terms of plot, it builds suspense well, has a cast of likable characters, and ultimately has a nice message about the power of storytelling. I really enjoyed it!

- Longer review coming eventually ... maybe -
Nov 25, 2011 TheBookSmugglers rated it really liked it
First Impressions:

Thea: When I started Icefall, I expected an engaging YA fantasy novel – I certainly was not expecting to be so enthralled by this beautiful, breathtaking, elegiac tale. A fable of family, loyalty, honor; a story about the strength of truth; a lovingly crafted ode to the craft of storytelling – Icefall is all of these things. In the shortest, plainest terms, I loved this book.

Ana: Icefall was not at all what I expected – the cover is quite misleading, I thought, promising the gr
Jul 24, 2011 Claire rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: 5th and up
Recommended to Claire by: Roz
Set in the frozen north, the King’s children along with a very small band of servants have escaped a war with Gunnlaug that started with a spurned marriage proposal. They are hidden away in a fjord waiting (hopefully) out of harm’s way.

Kirby makes a large bow to the oral tradition of story telling as he relates The king's children's desperate fight for survival against cold, hunger and treachery. Asa is the oldest daughter, she possesses an ethereal and arresting beauty--the kind that l
Nov 04, 2011 Kevin rated it really liked it
Young adult fiction tied to myths and stories? Yep, that’s me. And it turned out to be a gripping and imaginative story with great characters and a unique setting.

Kirby really explores issues of trust in a community pushed to the brink while at the same telling a powerful coming of age story about a child awkwardly trying to find her identity (in contrast to the beautiful sister and the young brother and heir to the throne).

Three reasons you should read this one:

1) Great characters. Starting wi
Jan 01, 2012 Joshua rated it liked it
Shelves: 2012-13-read
Wellwritten but slow moving. I revisited it based on the reviews but I don't see it having wide appeal... Its very nicely done, but i think its a tough sell to middle school readers, unless they are already into viking talles... The cover promises Thor, but the insides are more Hamlet... Politcal intrigues, historical fiction...l however i will read a little more... I do like the norse tales interwoven and the main character grows on me...

I worry that it will turn into a typical lineage story li
Mar 14, 2016 Brenna rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorite-ya
This book was magical. There's the kind, selfless princess, who is afraid of her own potential, but slowly learns to embrace her positive traits that others have noticed all along. Such character development is a soft spot
The plot might be slow-going for some--like watching a little pond just frosting over--but look! The fish that flit under the water could be watched for hours. I never found myself bored with the progression of the plot, because of the characters... ah, the characters.
The stri
The Book Queen
Apr 05, 2015 The Book Queen rated it it was amazing
Cannot praise this book enough. Kirkby has written a spectacular coming-of-age story. I loved Solveig: she was so insecure at the start but gradually realised her strengths, and I kept rooting for her throughout the book. Hake was probably my favourite character: there were so many layers to his personality and like everything else in this book, his characterisation was perfectly done. Kirkby is a master of suspense; he kept me guessing all the time and although I had some idea, I was never sure ...more
Pam Vlieg
Aug 31, 2011 Pam Vlieg rated it it was amazing
There is something ever so magical about middle grade fantasy. Rarely does it ever fail to pull me in and immerse me in prolific language and prodigious landscapes.

Icefall by Kirby was by far one of the best Norse MG fantasies I have ever read. The setting was brutal, the characters gruff and believable, I was able to sink into icy oblivion in the middle of the summer. Kirby’s story telling skills are incredibly verbose while not overwhelming the younger reader. I feel Kirby did an astounding jo
Rebecca L. Snowe
This book is, whoa, so cool. I picked it out on my library's web page because I thought the cover was interesting. When I read the synopsis I thought that it might be interesting but wasn't hoping for a lot. I finished it in two days it was SOOOO good. Solveig the man character is so charming, witty, easy to understand and sympathize with and just awesome! I didn't even know when I started it that it had Norse mythology in it, mentioning Loki, Thor and Odin, I was so excited when I read that! Ve ...more
Chelsea Wright
Mar 16, 2016 Chelsea Wright rated it it was amazing
I loved this book! It's categorized as Fantasy, but reads more like Historical Fiction for most of the book. It deals with Vikings and Norse Mythology, and the power of words and stories. I highly recommend it to anyone!
Dec 01, 2011 Wendy rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Melody
It's almost astonishing, how much better this second novel is than the author's first (smoother, more sophisticated in style, subtler). Norse mythology and princess fantasy is definitely not my thing, so it took me a while to get into this; I think if it HAD been my thing, I would have rated it four stars. The plot held two surprises (well, one, and one only subtly foreshadowed), and the romantic tension between the protagonist and one of the other characters is, again, subtle but rich.
Heidi (Yup. Still here.)
What an interesting tale. I really like stories with a strong female protag and this one fits that bill. I also like Norse culture references sprinkled throughout. I will mention though that this was "slow starter" type of book. None of the action happens until the end. I am normally put off by slow starters but I am glad I stuck with this one because it was really good in the end. Again I will give a nod to the fantastic Jenna Lamia who narrated the audiobook. I love her.
Apr 10, 2016 Hope rated it really liked it
When I picked up this book, I had high expectations. I had already read one of Mr. Kirby's other books and loved it, so I was really excited to try this one.

Even with high expectations, this book surpassed them all. I was on the edge of my seat the entire time. The characters were great, the plot was exciting, and the writing was fantastic.
Hazel West
Feb 10, 2014 Hazel West rated it really liked it
Thoughts on the Overall Book: I wasn't exactly sure what to expect from this book, and I haven't read any others by the author before this, so I wasn't sure if it would life up to my expectations, but in one of those lovely reader moments, it really did, and might have even surpassed my expectations in character development and story.

Cover--Yea or Nay: I love the cover for "Icefall". while not necessarily true to the story, it's pretty and shows that it's a Norse themed book (something that alwa
Jul 15, 2011 Vicky rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mystery, ya
Stuck in a tiny fortress situated between high mountains, a glacier, and a frozen fjord, Solveig, her brother Harald, and sister Asa, are surrounded by their father’s warriors, a few servants, and a skald (storyteller). The king sent them to the far north for their protection during a war, but no one considered treachery from one of their own.

Solveig has always been the overlooked on. She is not beautiful like her older sister, nor a male heir like her younger brother. She’s just Solveig. Even h
Jan 16, 2013 Bookyurt rated it really liked it
This book knocked my socks off. Seriously. I had no idea what to expect going in, but what I found in Icefall was an utterly unique, smart, and fantastically compelling blend of intrigue, mystery, suspense, and coming of age story. I am completely in love with this book.

In some ways the cover of Icefall is misleading, in that it implies a pure action/adventure type of story, a story in which a hero heroically swings a war hammer and cuts a swathe across a battlefield. But Icefall is anything bu
Aug 24, 2012 Ruth rated it really liked it
Solveig and her royal siblings are sent to a fortress with a handful of personal guards and helpers as their father the king, goes to battle. Before long, their father sends the "berserkers"- wild and untamable soldiers to guard them as well. As winter sets in and the entrance to the fortress freezes over (trapping them until spring), claustrophobia settles in. And it soon becomes apparent that someone is trying to weaken the already-tense friendship between the berserkers and everyone else.

I to
Clare Cannon
Apr 01, 2012 Clare Cannon rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: 9-14 years+
Shelves: 08-12yrs

What a great story about a kingdom at war and the struggle to overcome treachery from within, attack from without, and the chains of doubt which hinder strength of character.

Solveig, second daughter of the king, is the centre of this amazing story about what it takes to be great, and yet this is not exclusively a girl's book. There is action and fighting and honour and treachery enough to easily hold a boy's attention as well. And her journey is inspiring for boys and girls alike. A few of the
It was okay but I didn't feel that it was worth it. I was bored most of the time. I didn't really like the characters. Even the idea was not that interesting. I only picked up the book because of the cover, the title and the fact that I'd read "The Clockwork Three" and thought it was okay, maybe this one would be better. Okay, so they are stuck in the icy glacier,\pass thing and waiting for the ice to melt and the ships to return. Meanwhile someone is sabotaging their steading. All righty then. ...more
Oct 07, 2011 Betsy rated it really liked it
There's a certain breed of middle grade fiction novel for kids that defies easy categorization. Call them fantasies without fantasy. These strange little novels pop up from time to time encouraging readers to believe that they are reading about something fantastical without having to throw magic spells, ghosts, or singing teacups into the mix. Frances Hardinge's Fly by Night and Fly Trap fit this description. Ditto any book that really involves an alternate world. Now when I received my copy of ...more
When I heard about Icefall, I very much wanted to read it. A story set with magic and Vikings and a brave young protagonist, discovering her strengths.

When I actually started the book, it drew me in so quickly that I ended up reading through the night. It's hard to pinpoint what I like best about the book. It's a book that I'd share with young readers - as I read it, it struck me that the language and style were so well crafted that you could read the book aloud to a younger reader, a chapter a
Feb 10, 2013 Skip rated it really liked it
4.5 stars. Excellent read. Facing a war with rival warlord Gunnlaug, the king sends his children (Asa, Solveig, and Harald) to a remote fjord with a group of the king’s most trusted warriors, where they become snowed in for the winter, with a traitor in their midst. The plain, shy, and overlooked daughter Solveig develops into a strong unifying character, helping the group overcome immense strife (both internal and external), while befriending Hake the chief protector and a beserker, and while l ...more
Mar 09, 2015 Claire rated it it was amazing
Shelves: myra-selections
This is my favorite so far.
I agree with Jen, there were some slow parts, but over all, the growth of Solveig through the story was satisfying.
The end was inspiring, and I love the elements of Norse mythology.
I recommend this as a family read aloud for elementary readers, but grades 5 and up are the target readers for this fantasy tale.
Jul 13, 2015 Miranda rated it it was amazing
This is an amazing young adult book. I picked up the audiobook of this, on a whim, because I liked another of the author's books (the quantum league) and I had NO IDEA I would end up loving this so much. Definitely one of my favorite books currently.

The setting is period appropriate to the Viking//Norse era (not modern but still very relatable, which is hard to do) and I also love that this was accurate to their way of life, the characters were evolved but not too over analyzed, and that the ma
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Smith English 4250: Icefall review 1 6 Jun 01, 2015 02:33PM  
Goodreads Librari...: Two books, not sure if they're the same edition 3 162 Apr 29, 2013 04:52PM  
RAP READING: Glacier 4 9 Jan 26, 2013 01:36PM  
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Matthew Kirby was born in Utah, and grew up in Maryland, California, and Hawaii. As an undergraduate he majored in history, and then went on to pursue an M.S. in school psychology. For ten months out of the year he works with students, and during the rest of the year he writes. He and his wife currently live in northern Utah.

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“Sometimes, when we want something so badly, we fear failure more than we fear being without that thing.” 61 likes
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