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The Ice Soldier

3.56  ·  Rating Details ·  136 Ratings  ·  22 Reviews
After barely surviving his tour as a mountaineer in the Italian Alps of the Second World War, William Bromley settled down and made a quiet life for himself: teaching history at a London boarding school, reading, a few drinks at the pub on Friday nights. That all ends when a soldier from William's mountain regiment reappears, calling in a bargain struck during the war. Wil ...more
Paperback, 352 pages
Published December 12th 2006 by Picador (first published 2006)
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Aug 07, 2014 Lobstergirl rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Joan Rivers
Shelves: fiction

Forty year old history teacher William Bromley (whose name I kept reading as Wilford Brimley) is living in London in 1950. He can't escape his haunted past as a member of a mountaineering brigade in World War II: he and his fellow soldiers were tasked with taking a radio beacon to the top of the Italian Alps, but the Germans were there waiting for them, there was a shootout, and three Brits perished.

He sits in his club with his best friend Stanley and they drink wine and shoot the breeze. At fir
Mar 25, 2008 Donna rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I really loved this book and couldn't put it down. This was the first time I'd read anything by Paul Watkins, and didn't know what to expect. I was definitely pleasantly surprised. This is a great story about mountaineering set in 1950 & even touches on WWII by recalling what the main character went through during that time. Ever since I read Krakauer's "Into Thin Air" I have been fascinated with the whole mountaineering thing and what makes mountaineers tick. This book didn't disappoint on ...more
Nov 30, 2007 Daniel rated it liked it
Shelves: literature
I think that Paul Watkins is one of the finest writers of today. His writing brings to mind the style of Hemingway, and his characters have the same kind of inner machismo, though without boasting of it.

It is very easy to get caught up in the prose and the characters that Watkins brings to life, but this book leaves something to be desired with its plot. While I fully understood the main character's lonesomeness and even later understood why, I never believed his desire for a certain young lady
Colby Coombs
Jun 25, 2017 Colby Coombs rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, light, classics
Almost poetic!
JG (The Introverted Reader)
William Bromley is a World War II veteran living in 1950's London. In the war, he led a mountaineering expedition that ended disastrously. He has never moved past this and started living again. He's just existing--teaching school, admiring the secretary from a distance, spending Friday evenings with his one friend, and visiting his father on school breaks. There's nothing exciting in his life and that's the way he likes it. Notably, he has also completely given up mountain climbing. Then somethi ...more
Jun 18, 2007 William rated it liked it
Shelves: espionage
What I like best about these books is that they are what I imagine would have been great adventure novels to read as a boy. In each of Paul Watkins’ novels you're treated to violent but also romanticized stories from wars across the earth. The small characters are brought to life as much as the large ones, but none of the characters are ever overdrawn, and because of that you can place yourself easily into the story. The Ice Soldier is about mountaineering as much as it is the British army's mou ...more
Feb 20, 2013 Mark rated it really liked it
My interests of military history and mountains ( )seemed to collide on the cover of this book: the Faber hardback of 2005. I read the review on the back by the Sunday Times which was glowing and on the strength of that I bought it as it appeared to be something akin to the novel I have recently had published.

The quality of writing is excellent, really first rate. The descriptive passages, especially the mountain scenes are brilliant. The plot is good and indeed there a
Corey Murray
Apr 05, 2009 Corey Murray rated it really liked it
This guy has a definite knack for conveying time and place. He paints 1950s London so vividly you'd think you were there. But the real magic of it is he does it in smaller details rather than grand descriptions: a character's carrying bag or his cigarette case; the knick-knacks in a kitchen or on the mantle. He's no slouch with the broad brush strokes either. You can feel the scope and isolation of the glacier too.

This is also a very exciting book, with characters who remain real, despite the i
Apr 20, 2009 Brian rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
This was my first encounter with Paul Watkins. I picked up a used copy for $3 and had no preconceived notions. I didn't know whether to expect a military thriller, adventure, or straightforward history.

Watkins writes in a style that makes the most mundane plot ingredients interesting. I found myself savoring many passages, relating to his descriptions of the character's environment and impressed with how Watkins captures so much in the simple written word.

The Ice Soldier offers much more depth
Aug 21, 2007 Emily rated it liked it
So, I read this book because I felt sorry for it. It was one of the "Reader's Choice" selections at the county library and nobody had read it yet, so I decided that I should.

And, it was OK. It is the story of a mountain climber who is living with ghosts from his service in World War II. This book details his return to the mountains after the war.

Anyway, if you're into mountaineering, you might really like this book a little more than I did. I liked it, but it wasn't great. But considering that
Jul 12, 2014 Enid rated it really liked it
I first read Archangel and loved it. A book for men or women. A gutsy story set in Maine.
I hope this one is as good because I found that not all of his books are startling.

This is a thought provoking book about climbing in the Alps , leadership, bravery and finding yourself. i think Watkins has captured the flavour of the times ( post war) well.
One thing that I admire about his books is the great variety of subject matter settings and themes which he chooses.
Aug 21, 2010 Pbwritr rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dramatic-fiction
A very different sort of book. After WWII, a mountaineer returns home and decides he is done with climbing. A number of other characters in the book, almost all mountaineers, have their own secrets or stories or aspirations about mountain climbing. It was hard to know where the story was going, but it ended up being something that refreshed the principles and high morals of others, including some reputations. All around an intriguing book.
Christopher Swann
Mar 29, 2009 Christopher Swann rated it liked it
This is an odd book for me...I thought it would be so much more, and then it lets me down in places.

And yet, I keep thinking about it and have gone back to re-read it. The confrontations between some of the characters aren't believable, but the description of climbing and the scenes on the glacier, along with some quieter scenes of the academic life of a teacher, stay with me. Watkins can write some really good scenes, and others disappoint. Uneven, but worth a read.
Jul 24, 2008 Christina rated it really liked it
Another Paul Watkins masterpiece, even if the last two pages are a little over the top. While reading it, I felt I was climbing the mountain along with the two main characters and felt the struggle each faced along the way. My only complaint might be that the book started out with a focus on the narrator's struggle with ghosts from the war but abandoned that internal struggle somewhere in the middle. All and all, a good read.
Feb 18, 2008 Eric rated it really liked it
In my spare time I like to read antique thrillers by dead male Brits. This living author has managed to conjure that same atmosphere of foolish certainty and brave incompetence as a good Buchan or Sapper or Dornford Yates. Not unlike Ishiguro's When We Were Orphans. Very unlike Flashman, it plays straight. A throwback, but a decent, honest one; a ripping yarn.
Jan 09, 2008 Davy rated it liked it
An impulse read, found browsing through the New Books section at the library. The Tobias Wolff endorsement on the jacket was enough for me, and the praise turned out to be well-deserved. Splendid book, from beginning to end...and this, coming from someone with little-to-no interest in mountaineering. Complex but subtle, all in all a very balanced and well-paced novel.
Jun 06, 2008 Caitlin rated it it was amazing
Paul Watkins' books are either captivating or tedious. This one is captivating. I read it in just two days.
Apr 09, 2012 Jacky rated it it was amazing
Wow - loved it.
David Grieco
Mar 04, 2010 David Grieco rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Slow in parts, but i really enjoyed it. Watkin's gives a great feel as to what the essence of climbing is all about. Not as good of fiction as Night over Day over Night though.
Dec 08, 2011 Kim rated it it was ok
Contemp English...1940s-50s London and Alps....thought it would be historical and adventuresome. It was neither.
Aug 26, 2014 Irene rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you want to climb a mountain and cross a glacier without moving from your armchair then this is the story for you. Kept me entertained from beginning to end despite really poor proof reading.
Cindy rated it really liked it
Oct 02, 2011
Dan Berube
Dan Berube rated it liked it
Jan 19, 2014
Meara rated it liked it
Sep 03, 2011
Dec 29, 2008 Jennifer rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
Not his best.
Mick Scheinin
Mick Scheinin rated it it was ok
Jun 25, 2014
Stephan rated it liked it
Jul 22, 2014
John rated it it was amazing
Jan 05, 2015
Picador USA
Picador USA rated it it was amazing
Sep 10, 2012
Jake rated it really liked it
Aug 01, 2009
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Paul Watkins is an American author who currently lives with his wife and two children in Hightstown, New Jersey. He is a teacher and writer-in-residence at The Peddie School, and formerly taught at Lawrenceville School. He attended the Dragon School, Oxford, Eton and Yale University. He received a B.A. from Yale and was a University Fellow at Syracuse University, New York. His recollections of his ...more
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