Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Falcons of Fire and Ice” as Want to Read:
The Falcons of Fire and Ice
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Falcons of Fire and Ice

3.66  ·  Rating details ·  1,027 ratings  ·  124 reviews
The year is 1539 and the Portuguese Inquisition ushers in an era of torture and murder. When the Royal Falconer is imprisoned on false charges to remove him from the inner circle of the boy King, the Inquisitors strike an impossible deal with his daughter, Isabela. Bring back two rare white falcons from Iceland within the year or her father dies.

Meanwhile in Iceland, a me
ebook, 496 pages
Published August 16th 2012 by Michael Joseph (first published August 1st 2012)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Falcons of Fire and Ice, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Serene Morticia There are some violent deaths in this novel but nothing a high schooler couldn't handle! I'd say this would be fine for teens to read.…moreThere are some violent deaths in this novel but nothing a high schooler couldn't handle! I'd say this would be fine for teens to read.(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.66  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,027 ratings  ·  124 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Falcons of Fire and Ice
Feb 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Karen Maitland's fourth book is a divergence from historical England to give us a perspective of Lisbon and Iceland in the 16th century. May 23, 1536, marks the day that the Inquisition was formally introduced into Portugal and was intended to root out heresy within the Church. It was not by definition directed specifically at Jews, but in countries where Jews had converted to Christianity in large numbers, it did largely focus on those who were suspected of continuing to practice Judaism i
Serene  Morticia
Mar 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I saw a copy of this in a bookshop a couple of days ago, so I presume it's safe to post my review of it here at last, although I read an advance copy back in April! Being the fool that I am, I never got round to writing a review of it at the time, which means I am now left with only vague recollections of what it was actually about and what I particularly liked/disliked. My notes from then (I was on holiday) have this to contribute:

Very good but not up to the standard of the last book. Just as e
Jul 10, 2012 rated it liked it
I've really enjoyed two of Karen Maitland's previous novels, The Owl Killers and The Company of Liars but I wasn't so keen on her last book, The Gallows Curse. Still, I was keen to read The Falcons of Fire and Ice and see if it would captivate me as much as The Owl Killers had.

The Portugal of 1539, complete with the terror of the Inquisition, was rather different from the view from my Portuguese sun-lounger - yes, the heat of the sun was rather intense but hardly a match for the pyres erected by
Kristin Gleeson
Oct 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Set in 16th century Spain and Iceland the novel follows the fortunes of the rogue and con man Ricardo and the Marrano (Jewish convert) Isabella. On Iceland we also follow one of a pair of twins, held captive for years in a warm spring cave. Isabella is desperate to travel to Iceland to capture two falcons needed to save her father from the his imprisonment and certain death after he was falsely accused of killing the king's falcons. The Inquisition who has identified Isabella and her father as J ...more
The Captain
Sep 18, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasy
Ahoy there me mateys!  This be the twelfth book in me Ports for Plunder - 19 Books in 2019 list.  I have wanted to read this book for a long time.  I discovered it back in the days when I had no blog and even less money than I do now.  So first I read the owl killers about beguinages because I could get it from the library.  That was a five star read and so I knew I wanted to read more of her work.  Never did.  When 19 in 2019 came around, I gave in and bought a copy of this novel because a) I h ...more
Aug 15, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have found that, when I want to travel back to the dark ages, Karen Maitland is a wonderful guide. She has so clearly studied the period, she so clearly loves the period, and she conveys all of that in wonderfully imagined and told stories.

This one pulled me in straight away, with high drama.

In Iceland an expectant mother found herself, and her unborn children, cursed when her husband killed the last white falcons on their mountain, breaking an oath and breaking old customs for financial gain.
Beth (bibliobeth)
Jul 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
I'm a big fan of Karen Maitland, and I urge anyone new to this author to read her previous works. The Falcons of Fire and Ice is based in two countries, Portugal and Iceland and each chapter is narrated by a different character. There is Isabela, a young girl forced to travel to Iceland to find a pair of rare falcons thus freeing her father from imprisonment and likely death. Our second narrator is Ricardo who is a bit of a "rogue" and is employed by the Inquisitors to "get rid" of Isabela befor ...more
I didn't like this as much as Karen Maitland's other work. Maybe because I'm getting used to her style, or because this one had too long to build up in my mind -- maybe because it seemed to be over too fast, and I didn't really like the characters. Isabela, yes, but Ricardo, ugh, and somehow the whole of it didn't have the same dark urgency to it as the other books.

Perhaps even because Iceland is one of my Things and I wasn't so sure about the depth of Maitland's research here. It's not my perio
Jun 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
Superstition, religion/mysticism & adventure are always on the menu in a Karen Maitland novel. I don't know if any of hers will ever be better than Company of Liars, for me, but -since that was one of my favorite books ever - that's okay. This still draws you in, keeps you hooked & has just enough creepy factor to be a dark but fun read. ...more
Sep 03, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
enjoyed this book of falcons, birds, 16th century belem, sintra and lisbon and the travels of isabela goes in search of 2 white falcons to save her father but has to travel to iceland to find them in hostile land also split with religion, well worth reading
Jennifer Shaw
Nov 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
This was my first Maitland read and for the most part really enjoyed it. The characters, particularly Ricardo, are interesting to follow, but the plot becomes more plot-heavy than character-driven in the second half, leaving some elements unresolved. They become a little more two dimensional as time goes on, which is a shame as the ingredients are all there for complex characterisation.

The mysterious Icelandic landscape is described in a truly immersive and captivating way, I was able to comple
Jun 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Having loved all of Karen Maitland's previous books Company of Liars, The Owl Killers and The Gallows Curse, I was delighted to read her latest offering. "The Falcons of Fire and Ice" is set in Portugal, 1539, when the country is in the icy grip of the Inquisition. Isabela is the daughter of the Royal Falconer and King Sebastian loves both falcons and the company of the gentle man who tends them; but when tragedy strikes the King is able to do little to protect him, as he is just a child and his ...more
Jill Heather
Sep 09, 2012 rated it really liked it
Karen Maitland writes what I will call medieval horror/thriller, which is a weird, weird genre. Superstition is taken very seriously: it's all real, and religion is in some respects a response to the demons etc. Her books are creepy, though not gory or particularly explicit.

This one is set during the inquisition in Portugal. At the same time, in Iceland, the Lutherans are off trying to kill the Catholics. It's a fascinating other side which I had never heard of before now. (I am suddenly interes
Patrick Neylan
Some reviewers have complained that this book is no different from Maitland's earlier books. That's a shame if true, but I've never read any of her other books so I can only judge The Falcons of Fire & Ice on its own merits. And those merits are considerable.

The ice is Iceland; the fire is the fire of the Portuguese Inquisition in the mid-16th Century. The daughter of a Portuguese falconer is forced to travel north to capture two falcons to save her father from the flames, while a charming con-
Maya Panika
Sep 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
Set in the sixteenth century amidst the horrors of religious persecution and ‘holy’ wars of all stamps, Karen Maitland's tale traverses the Atlantic, from Portugal under the Inquisition, to Iceland under the heel of the Lutheran Danes.

It opens with a lot of unconnected storylines that eventually come together; a lot of characters too, many with names that I found difficult to remember. I did lose track a bit at first, but not too radically and as the individual threads begin to draw together, an
Apr 08, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-read-2014
The young king of Portugal's gyrfalcons have been killed, and chief suspect if the falconer. He is held captive, and his daughter, Isabela is charged with getting two more from Iceland, or her father dies.

She sets off on a voyage to get them, little knowing that other passengers on the boat are set on her not achieving her goal. She is almost left behind when the ship has to shelter in a storm, and uncovering an object, before resuming her journey. On reaching Iceland she is informed that she ha
Rùne Ulfeblut
'The Falcons of Fire and Ice' is, without a doubt, my favourite novel by Karen Maitland.
I loved both 'The Owl Killers' and 'Company of Liars', but this is definitely the book I loved the most.

In this book, Karen Maitland again proves herself to be the most dedicated novelist of the Middle Ages. She also manages to keep a few secrets perfectly hidden until the very end, such as the identity of one of the characters.

The novel takes place throughout Portugal and Iceland, and - as is typical of Mait
Georgina Newcomb
Apr 13, 2013 rated it liked it
‘The Falcons of Fire and Ice’ is the first Karen Maitland book that I have read. I read the back page, found it intriguing and turned to the first page. This is the test I do you see, wherever I am at a bookstore or a supermarket, this is how I choose whether I will buy the book or not. The author has two chances; the synopsis and the first page. If the synopsis tells me a story that I know I will like, then I will try the first page. The first page is where I look at the style of writing, I usu ...more
Mark Townsend
Jan 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is the first of Karen Maitland's novels I bought. I heard her talking about it on the radio and she she impressed me hugely. Her historical knowledge oozed out through the radio waves and her ability to make a story powerful and compelling was very evident. So I bought the book and devoured it immediately. I have now read all her other books and she has definitely become one of my very favourite authors.

Falcons of Fire and Ice is an epic that keeps you guessing until the very end. It takes
Aug 24, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've enjoyed two Mailtand novels before this one, A Company of Liars and The Owl Killers, but this is the first I have listened to on audio and I thought the narrator did a great job with all the different accents, it really brought the story to life. Would I have enjoyed it as much as the previous two novels if I'd read a physical book I don't know? But I really enjoyed this one.

A great mix of history, mythology/folklore and adventure. She really knows her stuff!
Jan 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I liked the authors approach to the Inquisition, and that she took her characters outside of the typical geography and put them in Iceland. The end was left open enough to make you wonder if the main character was truly going to reach her goal and if she did what her life might be like.
Oct 06, 2012 rated it it was ok
Karen Maitland's latest novel is a disappointment. It fails to fulfil the promise that her first book (Company of Liars) showed or even the promise of that the backcover blurb suggests.

Please be warned that some SPOILERS are discussed below.

Set in sixteenth century Portugal and Iceland it promises a potent brew - the Inquisition and religious persecution, surviving pagan beliefs and the almost legendary Icelandic gryfalcon. Anyone who has visited both Iceland and Lisbon and Sintra in Portugal wi
A great story that had me gasping with surprise at a few moments!
Tina Hileman
Sep 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Zombies, glaciers, volcanoes, royal falcons, religious hatred and much, much more are in this story! It takes place in 1564, a time of religious upheaval and persecution of Jews by the Catholic Inquistion in Portugal and finishes in Iceland. One of the best stories I have read in a long time.
Steve Rippington
Jan 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
It's hard to know what to label this; it's part medieval mystery, horror story, and thriller. Karen Maitland has a knack for atmospheric writing. I've read a few of her books now, and every time I feel like I've been transported into a world that's part historical, part magical invention. The superstitions of the time are consistently presented as they would have appeared to the people of the time, in a way that blurs the distinction of fiction and fact.

The Falcons of Fire and Ice follows the st
Squiff Drake
Jan 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
Set in the Portugal and Iceland in the 16th century while the Inquisition rages in Portugal and the Danes bring Lutheranism to Iceland. Isabela the daughter of the Falconer to Portugals young King sees her father arrested for killing the royal white falcons. Her father and family will be killed if the falcons are not replaced. Isabela set off for the far Northern lands where the falcons are found in the hope of securing her father freedom but the church has its reasons for wanting her to fail. T ...more
Anthony Burt
Aug 17, 2014 rated it it was ok
I love Karen Maitland's historical thriller novels, but this one was nowhere near as good as her others, in my opinion. About a girl called Isabela who has to go on a journey to find two white falcons (in order to save her father's life from the Spanish Inquisition, who want to kill him because of being falsely accused of killing the King's falcons), there is a lot of fantastically detailed Icelandic and Portugese religious history in this book, but there was just something very tenuous and empt ...more
Aug 16, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2013
I liked this better than Company of Liars, which I'm not sure if I reviewed on here or if it was before Goodreads ... if it was on here (I am too lazy to check), then I probably ended up giving that one a higher rating for whatever reason. Anyway, point being, The Falcons is a better book no matter how my ratings may conflict.

However, it's not a great book. It's a good summer read for someone who is OK with light fantasy but would prefer the trappings of the normal world. I suppose my main probl
« previous 1 3 4 5 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Pandora's Jar: Women in the Greek Myths
  • To Green Angel Tower, Part 1 (Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn, #3; Part 1)
  • Faces of Darkness
  • Sworn to God
  • The Peregrine
  • Pirate: The Buccaneer's (Unofficial) Manual
  • In Bed with the Ancient Greeks
  • Sex and Punishment: Four Thousand Years of Judging Desire
  • J.W. Waterhouse
  • Heroes and Villains (Scott Cullen Mysteries #8)
  • The Very Worst Thing
  • Cambridge Latin Course, Unit 1
  • Unquiet Souls (DI Gus McGuire, #1)
  • Some Can See (Northern Michigan Asylum #1)
  • One Child
  • The Witches' Kitchen
  • To Green Angel Tower, Part 2 (Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn, #3; Part 2)
See similar books…

Karen Maitland has recently moved to the wonderful county of Devon and has a doctorate in psycholinguists. She is fascinated by the myth and magic of the Middle Ages, which she draws on for her novels. She experienced the medieval lifestyle for real, when she worked for eighteen months in a rural village in Nigeria, living without electricity, plumbing or sanitation.

Her first medieval thriller wa

Related Articles

Author, journalist, public intellectual, and (in recent years) comic book writer, Ta-Nehisi Coates is an Extremely Busy Person by any metric, and...
100 likes · 30 comments
“Sometimes mercy is not a kindness and pity is not love.” 3 likes
More quotes…