Sean's Reviews > The Icebound Land

The Icebound Land by John Flanagan
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Jun 02, 12

Read from May 31 to June 02, 2012

I'll say upfront that I'm not quite the target audience for the Ranger's Apprentice books. I'm a bit too old for YA fiction, so that's going to color my perception a bit.

That's not to say Icebound Land is bad, far from it. The characters are reasonably well rounded (in that they all have strengths and weaknesses), and it never feels like Flanagan is talking down to the reader.

Still, there are a few flaws with the book, though they're probably more due the intended audience than anything else. First, Flanagan has a tendency to explain exactly what every character is thinking. This wouldn't be a problem, except that the perspective occasionally shifts in the middle of a scene, removing a certain amount of tension.

Second, there's a certain lack of moral ambiguity on the part of the antagonists. The protagonists are given at least some touches of grey, but never the antagonists. This is at least a little excusable, seeing as the book is intended for pre-teen boys. In fact, the bit of ambiguity with regards to the protagonists is a nice change from the previous books, which generally had none.

The main reason I'm not rating it higher is because I've been exposed to so much fantasy literature that's richer and deeper than this. It's like comparing McDonald's to a five-star restuant - you just have to adjust you're expectations a bit. No, this most certinly isn't the next Song of Ice and Fire, but if you have a child around 10 years old who happens to be really into fantasy, you could do a lot worse than this. Though you'd have to read the first two books first.
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