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Ice Land

3.55  ·  Rating details ·  969 ratings  ·  215 reviews
A beautiful epic of love, longing, redemption, and enchantment in the tradition of Marion Zimmer Bradley's The Mists of Avalon

Iceland, AD 1000
Freya knows that her people are doomed. Warned by the Fates of an impending disaster, she must embark on a journey to find a magnificent gold necklace, one said to possess the power to alter the course of history. But even as Freya
Paperback, 364 pages
Published February 7th 2008 by Short Books
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Heidi I loved it. I would have loved to see more of the characters. She really made them come alive for me.

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Average rating 3.55  · 
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 ·  969 ratings  ·  215 reviews

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Libbie Hawker (L.M. Ironside)
A unique and unforgettable take on the Norse gods.

The culture of Iceland is explored, during the time period when Christianity just begins to encroach on the old religion via Norway. It's a beautiful blend of myth and history, weaving such characters as gods, half-gods, "dwarves" and "giants" into a tapestry of characters who feel lush and real.

The book does a marvelous job of turning the original legend of Freya's necklace into a plausible story (as long as you're willing to accept a few premis
Jun 18, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Misfit by: Amazon Vine
Ice Land is a somewhat fanciful take on the legends of the Old Norse Gods set in the year 1000. It is told through the point of view of several characters in alternating chapters - from Freya who can don her feathers and fly like a bird, orphaned Fulla who does not wish to marry the man her grandfather has chosen, Vili son of the sworn enemy of Fulla's family who can't stay away from Fulla, the half-dwarf Dvalin who dwells inside the mountain with his half brothers, as well as the Norns who fore ...more
I gave this 5 stars because it is EXACTLY the sort of book I like. As soon as it came out, I was prepared to buy it, and I rarely buy books anymore.

Ice Land takes place in Iceland, one of several countries I have never visited but am obsessed with and intend to visit ASAP. It's 1000 A.D., the year when Iceland officially converted to Christianity. Some of the old Norse gods are beginning to get unsettled, worrying about the possibility of their world falling into ruin (Ragnarok). A large volcan
Patricia Bracewell
May 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
Although I am not as steeped in Norse mythology as some, I know enough about it to understand and admire what Betsy Tobin was trying to do with this book, and I think she succeeded beautifully. She pulled a tale from the 14th c Saga of Olaf Tryggvason, added her own elements, and created a wonderful story that I found utterly captivating. This is far more fantasy than historical fiction, nevertheless she has grounded her tale in the very real setting of early medieval Iceland. Her descriptions o ...more
Sep 09, 2009 rated it did not like it
Shelves: disappointment
What a disappointment. I was really excited about this book because the little teaser sounded so enticing. First of all, it took me quite a while to get accustomed to the authors writing style. The plot jumped back and forth between characters that had no depth whatsoever as the author found odd ways to connect them. I felt like I was reading a fantasy version of Six Degrees of Separation. I found Ice Land to be dry and shallow with underdeveloped characters in a bizarre plot that was not the le ...more
This book was not my cup of tea. The mediocre love story, the disjointed narrative, the boring dialogue, the flat characterizations… I don’t even know where to begin. Tobin’s writing didn’t appeal to me and neither did her novel. It wasn’t awful, it had potential and there were vaguely interesting concepts but I don’t think I’ll be recommending this one to anyone or rushing into another of Tobin’s titles.

I admit I picked up this book largely because it was hailed as “a beautiful epic of love, l
Mar 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book made me miss the Vikings class I took back in college. You can tell that the historical and cultural research, for the most part, is pretty solid, but the book also has a weird blend of like... the gods are real and they live right over there but wait!!!! Christianity is afoot. Honestly this blending is done pretty well but it took me longer than it should have to really grasp that. Overall the book is very good: it’s well written, the characterization and relationship development is n ...more
Jan 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. The characters came alive for me and they showed real kindness and affection toward one another. It was a lovely telling of the death of the old gods with the advent of Christianity. The tie-in of the land with the gods was beautiful....well done! I'll look for more of Ms. Tobin's books.
Aug 21, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The Norse mythology bits are fascinating but this book is so woefully, painfully slow. Too slow to make it enjoyable at all. The writing lacks urgency or tension.
Sep 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
Ice Land is a loose retelling of Norse myth intertwined with Icelandic history. In the beginning of the 11th century, Christianity threatened the old religion and as the people's belief in the Aesir (Norse gods and goddesses) waned, Freya, the goddess of love, goes in search of the Brisingamen, a legendary necklace so powerful it may save her people. The Brisingamen was created by four dwarves, three of whom agree to sell the necklace to Freya in exchange for sexual favours. The fourth, a half-d ...more
Jun 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I had a serious book hangover after finishing this one. Absolutely gorgeous.

Nutshell blurb: We follow the lives of two women, Freya and Fulla, and the choices they make as they go through life. The story takes place in Iceland during a time when Christianity was inching its way through the populace.

It sounds really simple when I put it like that, but it was an elegant take on Norse mythology. Asgard isn’t some city in the sky. It’s actually in the mountains of Iceland and the people live alongsi
Sep 11, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: history buffs, anyone really
In this book Betsy Tobin uses sparse and wintry prose to bring to life the gods and goddesses of Norse mythology. The setting is Iceland in 1000 AD in the weeks before the volcano Hekla is to erupt and a new religion (Christianity) is spreading across all of Iceland. The story follows Freya, the goddess of love and fertility, on her quest to posess a special gold necklace in order to possibly prevent the great eruption. There is also Fulla, an orphan being raised by her grandfather in the midst ...more
Katherine Sas
Meh. I was tempted to give Ice Land one star based on pure enjoyment, but I'm inclined to be generous because I don't think it's all that terribly written. It happens to hit a few of my pet peeves - other readers may get more out of it. Present tense voice (especially first person) almost never works for me, and this is no exception. The story captures some of the tragic doom of Scandinavian sagas and mythology, but almost none of the fun. In fact, the whole thing is pretty humorless, which is a ...more
Aug 25, 2009 rated it really liked it
A revolution is taking place that will surely change the lives of the gods and mortals who live together in Ice Land. Freya sets out on a desperate search for the one item that may help save her and her people. There is a necklace with an immense amount of power that is capable of changing everything.

Fulla has found her soul mate. The problem is, she has been promised to another. And if that wasn't bad enough, the love of her life is part of the enemy clan.

Will Freya's journey prove successful o
Mediocre and disappointing - I had high hopes for this book but the Amazon Kindle sample was not impressive so I checked it out from the library and it was mediocre; flat prose and boring characters while Iceland just does not come through
Kathy Doll
The audiobook is so great, I know I'll also love the book. It's in my shopping cart at Amazon... Just finished reading the book, 2nd read August 2015 - also great in page form.
Milady Carol
Feb 21, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2018-reads
I really wanted to like this novel. Sadly, I found the switch between the characters too abrupt to really connect with any characters. Since I'm less a scholar of Norse mythology than southern European and Egyptian, I didn't have enough innate knowledge to bridge the gaps in the narrative. Every time I picked it up, I couldn't remember where I was, who I was, and what was going on, and I found that frustrating. This could be because my life is a bit hectic in the moment and my reading time is sp ...more
Jun 24, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, folklore
Based on Norse mythology this story had several plot lines which interplayed off of one another as the tale progressed. There are themes of love, uncertainty, longing, revenge and morality throughout. The book centers around the turning point of the disappearance of the importance of the Norse gods in the lives of the human population. Some of this is brought about by natural forces and the rest by the introduction of the new Christian religion on the inhabitants of Iceland. The story kept my in ...more
Jan 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: all-time-faves
loved loved loved this. the blending of lore and mythology and humanity was sooo well done; the different worlds of the different races were so well-drawn and the different ways in which they fit together were perfect. the romances in this were also so satisfying! i'm a sucker for a romance built almost entirely out of two people rescuing each other and journeying together, and freya and dvalin were built so well in that regard. i loved how connected the characters were, and how once those conne ...more
Dec 01, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2016, iceland
I would not say this book was an epic of anything except unfulfilled potential. The love story(s?) was really just 'insta-love', and there was too much going on for it to feel like it had any real depth. Someone else said it read like an outline of a novel, skimming along the surface, and I totally agree. Disappointing. Also, the present tense was annoying.
I could not put this book down. I loved the blend of historical and norse mythology. It took about 50 pages to get into (mainly due to the number of different characters). Still, I enjoyed the story and loved the characters of Dvalin, Freya, Fulla and Sky. I do wish there was more about Odin, and Loki, but think the book was the perfect length as is.
Roxanne Massimino
Nov 04, 2017 rated it did not like it
Wow. Just terrible. Talk about boring. The writing style is flat and boring. Not even worth writing anything more. Go read something else. Oh, if anyone can give me an exact count of how many times someone sips ale or mead and wipes their mouth with the back of their sleeve in this book, I’m super curious, my guess is at least 10.
Jun 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
I thought this was an interesting book, somewhere in the same vein as Mirror, Mirror by Gregory Maguire. I loved the way the author incorporated the amazing natural landscape of Iceland in so many beautifully poetic ways - it painted a gorgeous picture in my mind. I'll keep an eye out for more of her work!
Apr 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
A thoroughly enjoyable telling if the Icelandic Tales, Ice Land is the story of Freya, the Norse goddess of Love, Odin, Loki, and and other characters that help to tell several tales all in one book. Magic and folklore reign, and volcanic destruction is a constant threat. It was magical.
Megan Allen
May 27, 2017 rated it liked it
Good enough. Quick read. Interesting story. Dwarves, swans, love, volcanos. I can't complain.
Jan 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I loved this. Favorite book of the year and we are only three weeks in.
Brandon Rebel
Jun 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
An interesting story developed from myth, with excellent detail and prose.
I just got back from Ireland, but now suddenly want to visit Iceland.
Dec 23, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical, gr-author
3.5 stars
Feb 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
Norse mythology and reality in Iceland 1000 CE. Interesting.
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Into the Forest: Ice Land by Betsy Tobin 4 15 Mar 19, 2017 06:57AM  
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Betsy Tobin was born in the U.S. and moved to England in 1989, where she now lives with her husband and children. Her first novel, Bone House, was short-listed for the Commonwealth Prize, and won the Herodotus Prize in the United States. Her other novels include The Bounce, Ice Land, and Crimson China. Crimson China was Radio 4 Book At Bedtime in the UK, and was short-listed for Epic Romantic Nove ...more

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