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3.99  ·  Rating details ·  5,346 ratings  ·  901 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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Average rating 3.99  · 
Rating details
 ·  5,346 ratings  ·  901 reviews

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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
May 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: almost-favorites
"It seems there is no one I can fully trust, no one without a secret concealed inside themselves."
This quote describes half of the book.
Everyone has secrets. And this book keeps showing that.

The writing is beautiful, easy and fast to read. It never gets boring.
The art of telling a story plays a big part in this book.
Even though there isn't much action, this book keeps you guessing who may the traitor be.

The story has a steady pace, that focuses more in the fact that we don't know anyone as w
Sep 27, 2011 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 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
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
Mar 05, 2011 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
Brigid ✩
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 07, 2011 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 02, 2020 rated it it was ok
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I did not click with this one and I feel a bit like I missed out on something cool because other Goodreads reviewers love it so much. Maybe I just expected more epic-journey or epic-action or epic-anything. Instead I got what felt like eons of nothing but people sitting around nearly freezing/starving/whining to death.
There is more to it. The heroine is a storyteller learning to come into her own. Lots of family dynamics and what not but...I never felt the tale.
For an epic story o
Oct 30, 2011 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
Nick N
Sep 23, 2013 rated it did not like it
Ew. This book fr was like the most horbs book ever. I was bored af like every time I even looked at the stupid thing. It dragged on with very little suspense or anything to make the book interesting. DONT READ THIS EVIL BOOK. I hope the evil person that made this book dies in a chemical fire for this crime against books.
-Nick :)
Jan 14, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4,25 stars

I don't understand why the first genre of this book is listed as "fantasy" when there's almost zero actual magic except for maybe "berserkergang" which still was a thing (though not a very explained one). This is historical fiction just not the usual kind. It's the story of Solveig, the second daughter of the king, who tries to find her place in life while there's a war going on in the background. The only "magic" that is present in the narrative is the power of storytelling and how it
On the brink of war, a Viking ruler sends his three children to safety before his stronghold falls under seige. The children, their servants and a small group of soldiers and berserkers are shut in during a particularly harsh winter. They struggle to survive on meager rations and once conflict and distrust settle in, things take a dark turn when their fragile community is sabotaged from within.

This YA historical fiction tale, based on the theme of being trapped or confined, was just okay. To be
Jul 04, 2011 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
Josh Newhouse
Nov 22, 2011 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
Apr 18, 2013 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
Feb 15, 2015 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

This book is incredible. I loved it. The plot is unpredictable, twisty, and riveting; the characters are compelling, complex, and well-developed; the writing style is masterful, tight, and achingly gorgeous; the setting is rich and believable; the themes and message are deep, wise, truthful, and powerful.

I adore the main character, Solveig. She was compassionate, kind, perceptive, empathetic, wise, and eventually very strong and courageous. She was an amazing storyteller once she allowed hersel
A.L. Sowards
This middle grade mystery was really, really good. (It’s a mystery, and it’s historical fiction, so it’s not too surprising that I enjoyed it.) Beautiful writing, interesting characters, lots of twists, and a satisfying ending. I read it with my twins and we were all eager find out what happened next. The story is about Solveig, youngest daughter of a Viking chieftain. Her father sends her and her siblings away to an isolated fjord so they’ll be safe during a war. But someone at the steading is ...more

This was a very different book from anything I read so far, it’s set in a viking kingdom with a very good set of characters.
I thought I was going to read a fast paced full of stuff book, it was instead actually pretty slow even if well written.

The finale was good as well as the story in general. But because the setup is not my cup of tea I didn’t enjoy it as much as I expected!
Feb 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction-teen-ya
The king's children have been sent to a hidden fortress to wait out the war. Solvieg, her younger brother Harold, and older sister Asa, have a contingent of the king's guards to protect them. But then another group shows up, a group of the unpredictable berzerkers, claiming the king has sent them as well to protect the children. And as the fjord freezes over and winter sets in, it soon seems as if there is a traitor in their midst.

Matthew Kirby does not write stories for readers with short atten
Pam Victorio
Jul 24, 2011 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
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
Nov 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy, favorite
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
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
Nov 22, 2011 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.
Aug 09, 2015 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.
Chelsea Van Tassell
Mar 02, 2016 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!
Jul 14, 2011 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
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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 3 164 Apr 29, 2013 04:52PM  
RAP READING: Glacier 4 11 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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