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The Age of Ice

liked it 3.00  ·  Rating Details  ·  298 Ratings  ·  91 Reviews
The Empress Anna Ioannovna has issued her latest eccentric order: construct a palace out of ice blocks. Inside its walls her slaves build a wedding chamber, a canopy bed on a dais, heavy drapes cascading to the floor--all made of ice. Sealed inside are a disgraced nobleman and a deformed female jester. On the empress’s command--for her entertainment--these two are to be ma ...more
Hardcover, 416 pages
Published July 23rd 2013 by Scribner (first published January 1st 2013)
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(Book abandoned at 31% mark.)

The Age of Ice has a promising start:
I was born of cold copulation, white-fleshed and waxy like a crust of fat on beef broth left outside in winter. I was born of seed that would have seized with frost if spilled on the newlyweds’ bed. I was born on the twenty-seventh of September because in the month of January my parents had been sealed in a wedding chamber made of ice.
The whole first chapter is this impressive. Sidorova
Linda Robinson
Dec 25, 2013 Linda Robinson rated it it was amazing
Brilliant. This may be my favorite book this year. Epic, sweeping, and all the other superlatives that are liberally applied to books by Michener or Uris. I don't fall in love with literary characters, but I am in love with Prince Alexander Velitzyn. And many of the other characters merit a quickened heartbeat too. Speculative fiction is how Sidorova's novel is described. Speculative covers a lot of territory, and The Age of Ice covers more. Historical fiction in that some of the players were ar ...more
Eoghann Irving
How to review _The Age of Ice?_ It's a question that's been nagging at me since I started reading it.

This is not in any way your standard fantasy tome. It's not even your standard alternate history story. It is unashamedly literary fiction that happens to have one fantastical element to it. So I guess I would probably put it in a category with things like The Prestige and Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. So I knew going in this wasn't going to appeal to many fantasy fans. But with its focus on
Mar 24, 2014 Davina rated it liked it
I loved this book at the beginning. I picked it off the New Arrivals shelf at the library, thinking it'd be an amusing way to spend a half hour before my ride took me back to my half-finished sci-fi paperback waiting for me at home. But the half hour flew by and I found I did not want to part with this "amusing" and strange story.

Yes, it is very strange. Yes, it is absurd while not falling into satire. It's magical realism historical fiction.

I loved Alexander's unreliable narration, so firmly ro
Jul 05, 2013 Kara-karina rated it really liked it
The Age of Ice is a book in its own genre which took me completely by surprise.

I love reading Russian authors in English language because if the book is good I can recommend it to you, guys, and you might pick it up one day and learn something about the culture and rich history I grew up with. The Age of Ice is one of those books.

It describes the life of a man who is born as a freak of nature. He is absolutely immune to cold, and he has this weird affinity for ice and frost. He
Apr 29, 2013 Ionia rated it really liked it
Assessing this book for review is somewhat like trying to tell the entire world history is less than 300 words. It isn't possible. Reading this novel is a journey through a world of history and amazing wonders and is a truly beautiful read. If you are into books that slowly and carefully unfold with excellent character development, "the Age of Ice" has you covered.

This is not an action filled book where things happen a mile a minute. The writing seems somewhat reserved and you never feel partic
Oct 03, 2013 Craig rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-2013, my-fives
Other than "Where the Wild Things Are" and others of that ilk, I do not re-read books. Ever. This book may be the exception. There is so much to digest, one sitting may not be enough. Dark, transforming, exquisitely engaging, the life of the King of Ice reaches into your depths like a frigid Siberian night and holds tight. Spun around the history of Euro-Russian-Persian-French-Indian-German history of the 18th, 19th and into the 21st century the tale of Prince Alexander M. Velitzyn is odd, cold, ...more
Juli Rahel
Jul 28, 2014 Juli Rahel rated it liked it
There was something about the whole premise of the novel that really drew me in. Russia also has tons of history to offer that, I think, doesn't get explored enough. Just in the 20th century, there was so much change and upheaval there which not only makes for interesting stories but also still fuels modern day politics. But to remain with the literary, I am very glad to have picked up this novel.

Inventive is definitely the word I would use for this novel. The concept of the main character comin
Lorina Stephens
Apr 06, 2013 Lorina Stephens rated it liked it
How to assess J.M. Sidorova's debut novel, The Age of Ice? Not an easy task.

The premise of the tale is an epic journey of a Russian nobleman over 200 years of his unnaturally extended life, from 18th century Czarist Russia, through countless wars, political upheaval both national and international. Throughout that journey we are witness to protagonist, Prince Alexander M. Velitzyn's, struggle with his strange physiology: he generates cold. Any extreme emotion will cause discomfort, even harm, to
Jul 28, 2013 Susan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Prince Alexander M. Velitzyn and his twin brother, Prince Andrei, begin their life due to something between an unpleasant joke and a punishment. Their father, Prince Mikhail Velitzyn, was forced to act as a jester for Empress Anna Ioannovna, as punishment for an alleged affair with a Catholic noblewoman. The Empress decided to force a jester's wedding between Prince Mikhail and a female jester at the Court - a humpback named Avdotia Buzheninova. Sealed in a wedding chamber made of ice, the coupl ...more
Sep 19, 2013 Brenda rated it really liked it
Shelves: other-arcs
At times, I seemed to be trudging through snow banks up to my eyelashes, unable to keep from admiring the eloquence of flakes. J.M. Sidorova’s Alexander Velitzyn’s love affair with ice is longer-lived than Smilla’s or Snowflake Bentley’s.

Although I did not skate through The Age of Ice as if I were on Olympic speed, I reveled in its cold artistry.

Its protagonist does fall in love more than once. He charges into battles like some berserker yeti. He meets Mary Shelley and inspires her account of
Meg - A Bookish Affair
I was initially intrigued by "The Age of Ice" as it sounded like it would be a good mash-up of historical fiction and magical realism, two of my bookish favorites. This book initially started out well for me. We get a good story about the main character, Alexander and his brother's origins. They are almost mythological, which I really liked. Eventually, this book sort of petered out for me.

I did really enjoy the setting. I've been craving fiction about Russia recently and I really enjoyed readin
David V.
Jun 27, 2013 David V. rated it did not like it
Shelves: gave-up
Received as an ARC from the publisher. Started it on 6-17-13. I couldn't get into this book, and I really really tried. I gave up on page 250 of 388 pages. I used to give books 100 pages to grab me, and if they didn't, move on. Well, when I realized that I wouldn't live long enough to read everything I want to read, then I changed it to 30, unless someone whose opinion I respect tells me it gets better, keep at it(The girl with the Dragon Tattoo was like that.) I went way past that level for thi ...more
Oct 10, 2013 Emily rated it really liked it
Shelves: lit-fiction
My friend wrote this book and that's awesome! I'll confess that I probably wouldn't have read it otherwise, but I'm glad I did. There is so much stuff in this book--history and science and historical science and languages and even maps. And, of course, interesting characters and fantastic writing.
Jules Goud
Not my cup of tea.

I can see how awesome this book can be, I really can. We take about people that are 'cold-hearted' all the time. But, now, this person is literally ice. He craves it, he wants it, he is it. This causes many problems in his life that he doesn't understand. So, Alexander goes through his entire life almost experiment and we get to see it.

Cool idea, I do have to say.

I felt that it was too long. I know, it was only 390 pages, but I felt that the chapters of his life kind of lagged
I read an excerpt of this book in another 'book' called Color of Cold. I LOVED what I had read and knew I needed to finish The Age of Ice. When I went to find it on my Kindle, I was all ready to buy it...and then stopped dead when I saw the price was $17.99. All I could think was "ARE YOU KIDDING ME" In my opinion that is way, way too much for an eBook. As good as the excerpt was and as much as I wanted to finish this book, I just refuse to pay that much for a digital version. This would have ea ...more
Aug 30, 2013 Phil rated it did not like it
I wanted to finish to see what happened but I couldn't even do that.....stopped about 100 pages short....
"The Age of Ice" is a fairy tale but at the same time it isn't. Don't count too much on the cover blurb for this one because, as several reviewers have said, it was fairly inaccurate as to the actual contents. But, having seen my fair share of lying book synopses I approached this with an open mind and willed the book to take me where it will.

In all honesty I was into the book during the first half. As a person of Eastern European background I found it fascinating to, again, read about character
Aug 04, 2013 Stacia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In 1740, the Russian empress issues a cruel and unusual order: two court jesters (one of them actually an out-of-favor nobleman) are locked into a palace made of ice, where they are wed and left to consummate their marriage. Out of this union come twins: the princes Andrei and Alexander Velitsyn.

Andrei lives a relatively normal, if short, life, but Alexander’s life is long and remarkable. He explores the Siberian wilderness in search of the Northeast Passage; he fights—so many fights, from the C
Sep 03, 2013 Amy rated it did not like it
Shelves: dnf
I discovered Age of Ice through a post on io9 that sounded interesting -- a couple, a female jester and a disgraced nobleman, are forced to marry by the empress and consummate their union in an elaborate ice palace and almost freeze to death. Nine months later, twin boys are born -- princes Andrei and Alexander, the narrator who also immune to the cold.

From this, I was looking forward to an epic fantasy with court life in an unique setting, eighteenth century Russia. Unfortunately the interesti
Dec 20, 2013 Carla rated it really liked it
I enjoyed The Age of Ice in the same way one enjoys Dostoyevsky or Moby Dick. This is a very Russian novel at its core, and those who come in expecting a more American story [in pacing and in structure] will leave unsatisfied. If, however, you [like me] love the endless fields of wheat in Anna Karenina and shiver at the frostbitten romance in Doctor Zhivago, you may enjoy this book.

My review is not a plot summary: plenty of others have already provided such. Instead, I'd like to list what I feel
Susan Ardelie
Jul 23, 2013 Susan Ardelie rated it really liked it
The Age of Ice is a winter novel, a mesmerizing January tale slow to thaw beneath complex strata of ice. Initially it is the story of two brothers, their bond fractured by a mishap of birth that curses one brother and leaves the other strikingly normal. That legacy forever sets Prince Alexander Velitzyn apart from family, love, and even human life.

Told in epic scale spanning from the 18th century to the modern day, The Age of Ice explores the search for connection and the journeys we take throug
Lucie Paris
Jun 03, 2013 Lucie Paris rated it did not like it
First novel that I could not finish this year. I stopped at 65% of the story, sighing and shaking my head to try to force me to read until the end.
It's really not my habit. I even admit feeling guilty when I have to read diagonally to finish a book that bothers me. This one, I have not even managed to read it this way to overcome my boredom.

However, the synopsis was promising. I was thrilled to begin and immerse myself in this strange story. I expected to know what supernatural adventures these
The Lit Bitch
Aug 20, 2013 The Lit Bitch rated it liked it
This has been the year of Russian/Eastern European based literature for me. Since I read so much English based literature it is sometimes nice to take a break and explore a different literary culture and it’s history, but I am not sure that I was prepared to read this much about Russian history.

Though the history is presented in an understandable fashion, it overwhelmed me as a reader and I felt like not enough was happening in the story and with the characters.

I loved the concept for this novel
Jul 31, 2013 Annette rated it liked it
Source: Free copy from Scribner for the purpose of review

In St. Petersburg, Russia, twin boys are born to parents that were imprisoned in an ice palace in 1740. The boys are named Andrei and Alexander. Andrei is the older, bolder, goal-oriented brother. His heart is set on being a Lieb Guard. Alexander had followed his brother at every point in their growing up years, oddly enough it is Alexander that passes up his brother in height and achievement in the guard. While still a youth Alexa
Jul 31, 2013 Patty rated it liked it
This was most definitely a unique book. I find myself fascinated with Russian history so that part of it called to me, the mystical half was interesting in parts and just plain weird at other times. It all starts with a cruel Russian ruler - I know, you are shocked! - the Empress Anna Ioannovna who forces two of her subjects to marry and consummate that marriage in an ice palace. Twins are born to the mother, but it results in her death. The boys grow up, enter the army as they must provide 25 y ...more
Aug 09, 2013 Whitney rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2013, arc
The premise of The Age of Ice sounded really interesting and the fact that it was inspired by a true story made it all the more intriguing, I went in excited to read the tale of ice but came out luke-warm.

I thought the writing was beautiful. J.M. Sidorova always knew which word to use and created vivid portraits of Russia and the Arctics. I also thought the characters and storyline were well developed. I liked the background we were given of Alexander, and without becoming Dr. Phil with his life
May 26, 2015 Sternej rated it really liked it
This is a very ambitious first novel by this author. I give it fours stars just for being so creative and combining so many different kinds of literary themes ia a boook that has a tremendous scope. The story combines elements of fantasy, science fiction, romance, science, war, history, adventure that spans multiple coninents across two hundred years. The main character has an immunity to cold and much of the story takes place during extreme cold. This is very intersting at first but the interes ...more
Morganna The Hungry Wolf
Apr 21, 2013 Morganna The Hungry Wolf rated it it was amazing
This books has completely thrilled me, in everything. First of all, you have to be a little confident with russian literature (or kinda of russian literature if you prefer to not match modern novels with the classics) to enjoy this sometimes-hard-to-read novel because the amount of informations and events and names into it is huge. You have to keep in mind the chart that you will find after the book. And also, you have to be a patient lover of a slow and long narration, slow as winter, and long ...more
Chris Bauer
Sep 05, 2013 Chris Bauer rated it really liked it
I have to confess to being a little hesitant to start this novel. Some early reviews I read were a little mixed, ranging from downright "bad" to "good, but confusing" and everything in between.

I'm glad I trudged through it. Worth every minute.

I very much enjoyed the author's writing style for the most part. There were several motifs and consistent imagery which I grew weary of in short order, but the majority of the work was carefully crafted. The attention to petty details created a cumulativ
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“We all know what weight sits on our souls, and no one is expected to ever forget the past—only to let it be past and focus on the present,” 0 likes
“Truly, whatever St. Petersburg and Moscow may think about their geopolitical weight, both together plus everything before the Urals is but a small, brightly colored crest of feathers on the beast’s head, and only a few get to trudge the full length of its mammoth-bone spine, and peek in its permafrost eye as its third lid flashes the dark aperture open—only a few get to look into it and come home unaltered.” 0 likes
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