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Bears of the Ice #1

The Quest of the Cubs (Bears of the Ice #1)

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Perfect for fans of His Dark Materials ! A gripping adventure where "nature, magic, and legend combine to create a world like no other." -- Kirkus Reviews , starred review For generations, the noble polar bears have ruled the Northern Kingdoms. But now, their society is on the brink of collapse. A group of power-hungry bears has seized control, and darkness is creeping across the snow.Cubs First and Second don't know any of this. Although they're twins, they couldn't be more different. First loves imagining stories, while his daring sister, Second, wants to live them. When their mother is taken prisoner, the cubs' world falls apart. They know they have to rescue her, but how can two cubs who've barely learned to hunt survive a treacherous journey across the ice? Their only chance is to learn to trust each other and--even more important--trust themselves. But survival is only the beginning. And soon, these two unlikely heroes find themselves at the heart of a battle unlike anything Ga'hoole has ever seen.

240 pages, Hardcover

Published February 27, 2018

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About the author

Kathryn Lasky

297 books2,066 followers
Kathryn Lasky is the American author of many critically acclaimed books, including several Dear America books, several Royal Diaries books, 1984 Newbery Honor winning Sugaring Time, The Night Journey, and the Guardians of Ga'Hoole series.

She was born June 24, 1944, and grew up in Indianapolis, Indiana, and is married to Christopher Knight, with whom she lives in Massachusetts.

Book 15, The War of the Ember, is currently the last book in the Ga'Hoole series. The Rise of a Legend is the 16th book but is a prequel to the series. Lasky has also written Guide Book To The Great Tree and Lost Tales Of Ga'Hoole which are companion books.

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5 stars
217 (40%)
4 stars
168 (31%)
3 stars
104 (19%)
2 stars
34 (6%)
1 star
17 (3%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 74 reviews
Profile Image for Yub Yub Commander.
369 reviews28 followers
April 7, 2019
I found the sequel of this in a thrift store and immediately put the first book on hold at the library. More in the Guardians of Ga'Hoole world? Yes, please.

Let me preface this by saying I read and enjoyed all fifteen plus books of the Owls' world. Wolves of the Beyond was enjoyable but, oh boy, did it get weird. Bears of the Ice starts at the level of weird that Wolves of the Beyond ended with, but with each chapter, it's ramped up a notch.

I'm flabbergasted at some of the more violent content in this and how it's allowed for children to read. You've got cannibalism with a mom plotting on killing cubs to feed herself (
I checked out of the story around the time you find out that the main sibling pair has powers--which is basically the beginning of the book. Guardians had characters of extraordinary talent and whit as the main characters. WotB had magical/prophetic elements. The bears are straight up superheroes with what they can do. I don't see the point of it. It makes me care less about their journey .

Then you have the worldbuilding. This takes place further from the Great Tree than we have typically been, but that alone cannot account for the bizarre ability by every creature to read human letters. The cubs, even with rudimentary knowledge of their own world are somehow able to read street signs and grocery store advertisements that are hanging around. Then you have the fact that the weird cult is based around a clock. From everything I saw, the Owls and the Wolves and the Bears were like medieval/border line stone age level of technology, and these bears are churning out clocks and other mechanical achievements like compasses. There's even a moment later on where they meet a character who makes them hot cocoa and he drinks schnapps. He calls it that by name too. Then he goes to a grocery store to find oatmeal and hot cocoa powder. How does this even work???

The bear cubs were an interesting choice for characters, but they were so bland. I constantly got them mixed up because their voices were so similar. Even with a third party joining their group, all three of them blended so seamlessly into the same voice.

I rated this three stars, and the more I think about it, I wonder if I should drop it because three stars feels too generous. Definitely not continuing on in this world.
1,120 reviews10 followers
June 25, 2019
I'm called First, and my mother has left my sister and I alone in the polar region of Ga'Hoole. We've decided we'll try to find our father in the hunting grounds, but we only know we need to travel north. We wish our mother had taught us to hunt before she left, since it's hard to survive blizzards and dangerous creatures when you're weak from starvation. We've also heard stories about Tick Tocks and some kind of machine, but this mystery makes me uneasy. I think rogue bears are behind it, but I don't know anything more. It can't be anything good. The Roguers don't follow the proud traditions of bears and are vicious and deadly. I hope I never see one again, but my senses tell me it's likely.

I wasn't sure what to expect, as most of the characters were "normal", polar animals; except for the fact they could communicate with each other. First and Second (they got actual names later) spent the first half of the book learning to hunt while trying to avoid becoming meals for larger predators. The twins also had spiritual powers, as First could sense the thoughts of others and Second had a special connection to the ice. A later character was able to see the dreams of others. The emerging conflict involved the rogue bears and a giant clock. The clock began as a positive concept but became the source of cult worship and slavery. Unbeknownst to the cubs, their mother sacrificed herself to save them from becoming slaves to the Roguers. This happened in the opening chapters, so it's not a spoiler! The very end of the book became more intriguing once a leopard brought some clarity to the cubs' quest. The cubs aren't royalty, but their efforts will ultimately free all bears, theoretically Overall, the book got better the farther I got into the plot, so I think I'll probably check out the sequel, The Den of Forever Frost.
7 reviews
June 8, 2019
I feel like the worldbuilding in this book had some SERIOUS issues--mainly that the characters were way too anthropomorphized. I was willing to suspend my disbelief for Guardians of Ga'Hoole with owls being able to read, write, fight with swords, forge armor, etc, because birds do have the ability to grip tools and such. But I cannot suspend my disbelief for a snow leopard drinking hot chocolate with some bear cubs. What is this? Zootopia? And the oatmeal??? Snow leopards are obligate carnivores! They! don't! eat! oatmeal!

And then there were a lot of gestures the bear cubs made that didn't seem plausible. Waving? Shoulder squeezes??? Like, sure Wolves of the Beyond got weird, but at least they only made gestures wolves could relatively realistically make (as far as I remember anyway).

ALSO, where the hell are the machines coming from? When did bears learn to make machines? Again! These are POLAR BEARS! They don't have opposable thumbs! If you want to anthropomorphize this much, either make your characters outright furries or stick with birds! At least birds can believably do these sorts of things.

Anyway that's all my salt for now. Overall it was fun to get back to the world of Guardians, but I feel like this book could have been a lot better if the details were more thought out. If the clock had been built by owls or some other bird that would have helped a LOT with believability. And just nix the hot chocolate. That's all I'm asking.
Profile Image for Joann Rodriguez.
98 reviews2 followers
May 9, 2018
I love bears so when I saw this new book I just knew I wanted to read it. I tried reading it to my son who is in 2nd grade but he wasn't into it because of the sad parts and there are some scary parts. So I decided to read it myself. These 2 cubs are so brave and go on this grand journey and during this time they grow so much and learn so much about themselves. I can't wait for book 2 to come out. However there are some things that are a bit creepy such as the whole clock thing and the delusion of it. I'm sure the reading level really depends on the child and what they can handle.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for GuineaPigFalconer.
294 reviews5 followers
July 7, 2020
I haven't read a kids animal book in a long time, but I had a lot of fun reading this! I loved the author's Guardians of GaHoole series (and now I feel like I'll have to read it again someday, cause I know I forgot so much) and the Wolves of the Beyond series. This story takes place in the same world but with polar bears.
The hints of history and worldbuilding were all very neat, and quite honestly I'm looking forward to reading more stories in the owl world that I now remember loving.
Profile Image for Jeni Enjaian.
2,146 reviews30 followers
May 1, 2022
The only reason I picked this book up is because it is a short, easy to read polar fantasy so I could earn extra points for my realm in realmathon.
While I did not dislike this book, I did not really like it either. I think the narrator pushed this book to the positive side of an average 3 stars for me; she did an amazing job. I think the world could be compelling. I have heard of the world of Gahoole before (where Lasky has set several other series) but I have not read any of those books. I have read only Lasky's historical fiction books previously. Perhaps I would have enjoyed the book a little bit more if I had known more about the world itself. Perhaps not.
Aside from my disconnect from the story, a couple other things brought down the rating.
One, the book ends with the plot unresolved. I have read plenty of fantasy stories where the characters have one overarching goal that they do not achieve until the last book. However, the authors of those book give small, checkpoint type resolutions in each book. Lasky did not do that in this book. It read almost as if she wrote one huge book and then just chose a point to chop it into individual segments.
Two, for a children's/middle grade book, several things are quite graphically presented or alluded to like potential cannibalism of one polar bear who is given the care of the titular cubs. I found things like this in stark contrast to the actual writing which read very children's/early middle grade. The two did not mesh.
Some may enjoy this. I found it fine but have no interest in continuing on in the series.
Profile Image for Cindy Mitchell *Kiss the Book*.
6,001 reviews185 followers
September 3, 2018
The Quest of the Cubs (Bears of the Ice #1) by Kathryn Lasky, 225 pages. Scholastic Press, $17

Language: PG; Violence: G; Mature Content: G.



In a Post-apocalyptic world, expressed by the bears as the Great Melting, the Bears’ culture has disintegrated. The cubs are searching for their mother because unknown to them she has traded herself to save them from being sacrificed. She leaves her beloved cubs with a cousin who turns on them the minute their mom leaves. So, the quest begins.

The world is presented very creatively, evidently Lansky has written other books set in the world, the series Guardians of Ga’hoole. The characters are well developed and there is plenty of action for those who crave it. It left me wanting to read more about these feisty cubs and their intelligent mom. The notes mention 3rd to 7th grade but I would also recommend it for older students with low reading levels.

Reviewer: Lisa Moeller; Language Arts Teacher/Librarian
Profile Image for Coribookprincess.
515 reviews23 followers
June 10, 2020
Das Cover ist wundervoll und zieht einen sofort in den Bann.
Ich liebe solche Cover abgöttisch und muss die immer im Regal stehen haben.

Der Schreibstil ist fesselnd und sehr bildlich.
Ich konnte mir beim lesen alles sehr gut vorstellen, die Umgebung und die verschiedenen Eisbären.
Die Autorin lädt den Leser ein in ein spannendes, mysteriöses Abenteuer um zwei kleine Eisbären.
Wir erleben die Eisbärjungen heranwachsen, überleben und auch träumend die Sterne beobachten.

Die Geschichte ist wirklich absolut fesselnd und auch an manchen Stellen grausam.
Die Jungen kämpfen ums überleben und begegnen nicht nur gut gesinnten Eisbären oder Tieren.
Ganz auf sich gestellt entdecken die Beiden ihre Kräfte mit denen sie langsam vertraut werden.

Das Buch war viel zu kurz, ich hab es regelrecht im Rausch gelesen.
Zum Glück hab ich Band 2 schon hier, sodass ich sofort weiterlesen kann.

Eine fesselnde Geschichte in der Welt der Eisbären über den Kampf ums Überleben, Mythen, Familie, Freundschaft und mit einem Hauch Magie.
5 reviews
July 21, 2020
This book is about two polar bear cubs finding their way to survive in the northern kingdom to find their father after being left by their mother. They barely knows know how to hunt and there are so many other deadly creature that they might come across with. I think the whole message and theme of the story is quite unique , it said the bears of this place had invented a giant clock to predict the next great melting, which it’s purpose is to help save the lives of the bears themselves, yet another group of bears turn it into an evil purpose, they worship the clock and capture others to be slaves, and the worst of all is they sacrifice thousands of bear cubs by throwing them under a huge wheel of sharp metal teeth. This reminds me of some religions of cultures in human world , which people stubbornly believes in some kind of spirit or power , and sacrificing lives of their own. Until someone take action to stop such cruel actions and this is what the two bear cubs are going to do and became heroes of their kind.
Profile Image for Ellen.
878 reviews
April 22, 2019
Whew! Readers of Lasky will know that one of the hurdles reading her books is keeping up with all the strange names and vocabulary that liberally pepper her fantasy. Bears of the Ice is certainly no exception. Fans of Ga'Hoole will recognize this offshoot of the extremely popular series and will no doubt feel right at home here. I, who am only loosely acquainted with that universe, felt a little worn down by the sheer enormity of it all.

The essence of this new series is an arctic universe governed by polar bears. Two cubs are cruelly separated from their mother by thugs who steal cubs to be part of an ice clock that is the center of a cult-like mysticism designed to forecast the next great melting which would jeopardize the bears' society. The twin cubs are very different, each having a special ability to navigate their environment. Fighting to survive, they end up in the very place their mother sacrificed to keep them from, but they may be Nunquivik's only hope.
Profile Image for Abigail Sweetser.
184 reviews13 followers
March 12, 2018
My daughter chose this book at the school book fair completely because it is about polar bears. Let me tell you, even she couldn't stand this book. It was terrible, confusing, trying to have a plot that was way too complicated for the age that would pick up this book. It was also terrifying, talking about murder and blood a lot (and not natural, we have to eat to survive murder. This was like, we kill baby polar bears to use their blood to lubricate the gears of a clock fucked up murder.) The ending was terrible as well, leaving my seven year old in tears because of a characters death with absolutely zero resolution or slight attempt at a semi-decent ending.
we seriously had a discussion after this book was over whether we should donate it to the library or just set it on fire to avoid having anyone else have to go through the misery of reading it.
Profile Image for Larry.
983 reviews
October 25, 2019
I often 'read along’ (and encourage) my young reader friends With this book, the first in the series “Bears of the Ice”, I would be careful in recommending it to the youngest of 'good readers'. Younger children might find in a little scary. In fact, initially, I thought it a little unsettling. It begins with ‘evil’ bears – Rougers – coming to take cubs from their mother. The mother sacrifices her freedom and, of course, the cubs escape and the adventure to find and save their mother and father begins. Set in a ‘world’ of bears e.g. they read, write, etc., it’s a lite fantasy book in which the main are polar bears who interact with other arctic animals. It’s not just a wildlife story and pulls at the heartstrings of the reader. (As the first in the series, expect a cliffhanger ending.)
Profile Image for Amber.
360 reviews
February 24, 2021
I was so excited to read more books set in the world of Ga'Hoole! And I wasn't disappointed!
The polar bears side of the story has always intrigued me. I like them. Their way of life is different than the owls, but they have similar honor.
It's interesting to see the creations and things from the "others" (us humans) in this tale. Clocks, maps, etc...


I was disgusted by Taaka! What a horrible mom... I'm glad Third made it out.
I wonder if he will name himself or if the other two cubs will, and what his name will be. I like the names they chose for themselves.
I liked Skagen, he was a neat character.
Tick Tocks... poor cubs... I hope they can stop it. I can't wait to see how they stop those bad bears.
Maybe the owls will help. Maybe even Jameson will return to help out.
5 reviews1 follower
June 22, 2021
Svenna had two cubs named, First and Second. Svenna had never taught the cubs to hunt. She arranged for the cubs to stay with her cousin Taaka. She offered a special stone to her because there was no other way Taaka would take the deal. On the way there, Svenna had to leave somewhere when she got there and left First and Second with Taaka. Taaka was support to teach the cubs how to hunt, and she knew that would be hard. After the cubs were taught to hunt, they were lost in the forest. They went on a journey to find Taaka and Svenna. Soon, they found Taaka, and Svenna was there waiting for them worried.
16 reviews1 follower
June 5, 2018
I was shocked with the graphics of blood and murder in this book. It also jumped all over the place and it was hard to stay with the plot. I understand it is the first book of a series but I will not be looking forward to reading the second book. To me, this book was really dark and violent. A mother not feeding her young to a clock gear murdering young cubs. And the Roguers wow, they were deranged bears. The young cubs did manage to stay together and bring in a Third cub. They worked well together to stay alive. Not my favorite book
Profile Image for Tara Ethridge.
811 reviews25 followers
September 23, 2022
Lots of adventure in this novel that is connected to the Ga'Hoole series. Two cubs are supposed to be captured by the rogue polar bears but their mother sacrifices herself instead and gets sent to the terrible place up north. The cubs set out to find their mother and father and meet all sorts of interesting animals along the way, some dangerous and some friendly. Definitely intriguing with the connection to time and clocks and the "Great Melting." No need to have read Ga'Hoole to understand this book.
428 reviews14 followers
May 13, 2018
I didn’t get anything from this book, but maybe that’s because, even though this is the first of a new series, there have been many previous books set in this world, none of which I’ve read? For example, I loved Hartman’s Tess of the Road, but someone I recommended it to, who hadn’t read the prior series set in the same world, thought the world-building felt off. So I am giving a small benefit of the doubt that something similar may be playing into my reaction here.
35 reviews
May 31, 2018
A group of Roguer Bears have taken control of the Polar Bears Northern Kingdom. They have been taking bear cubs away from their mothers. When they come for Svenna’s twins, First born Stellan and Second born Jytte, she makes a deal to go with the Roguers to be of service to the Mistress of the Hands herself so her cubs will be spared. The cubs then set out on their own across the ice to find their father and to save their mother. A cute tale of family, friendship, and survival.
Profile Image for Dawn.
5 reviews
August 31, 2018
My seven year old daughter and I loved this book, we can’t wait for the second one (already pre-ordered it)! We did not find this book disturbing and my daughter was able to understand and follow along. If there was anything bad at all to say about this book it is that some of the names were very hard for her to pronounce, but this is such a minor thing. My daughter and I would most definitely recommend this book!
31 reviews2 followers
October 23, 2018
This book was very enjoyable. There are two cubs who have had their mother taken to someplace they don't know. They go on many adventures to go North to try and find their father. They meet many other bears along the way including one evil one who tries to send them to death. They eventually reach the evil place where their mom is working and they barely escape the guards. They are then sent to go find their father so they can take down this evil place and stop cubs from being killed.
Profile Image for Thistle.
630 reviews5 followers
May 21, 2023
This is the second book I've tried from this author (same one who wrote the Ga'Hoole series), and this one really, really, really did not work for me. Though the main characters were polar bears, this book did the biggest "talking animal story" sin there is: The bears were just human. They could read/write, they used days of the week (something bad was happening on Tuesday), they cried, they had knees... What is even the point of making a talking animal story if they're just going to be human?
1 review
February 3, 2018
I am an 8 year old boy and this was one of the best books of my life! I only got to read it because of my
book fair at school. I got so addicted that I started it Wednesday ended it Saturday which is today. Rate this book high remember it is good! There is only a few big pictures every once in a while! And it
describes things well! So read this book to see polar bear cubs go on an epic quest!
2 reviews1 follower
September 12, 2018
Good new series.

Good new series! I like that this is a brother/sister family stick together story. I believe I would recommend this to higher 5th grade and 6th grade students. I chose this rating because the story is good and it flows well. The writing is good. Easy to follow but not simple. The ending had me wanting more of their story.
Profile Image for Adriana (SaltyBadgerBooks).
432 reviews18 followers
April 3, 2019
This was a super cute! I had no idea that it was set in the world of the Guardians of Ga'Hoole, now I feel like I need to read that entire series! But either way i really like this one and cannot wait to read the 2nd one!

I loved the sibling dynamics between the two, and how they have these powers! It was so much fun to read about it! I also love Polar Bears so that was just the cherry on top!
86 reviews
July 20, 2021
It is slightly too short, ends too suddenly, and Skagen dies only a chapter or two after he is introduced, after they've had so little time to live with him. These cubs' one caring parental figure being murdered so quickly after he is introduced reminds me of Uncle Monty getting killed in the second book of A Series of Unfortunate Events.
Profile Image for Ellen Hamilton.
Author 1 book14 followers
May 21, 2018
This book is very interesting, and quite sad too. I would love to read the next book in the series. I feel like I must find out what happens to Stellan, Jytte, and Third and if they find Svenna and their Da, and if they manage to stop the terrible cult of the Timekeepers.
Profile Image for Katya Zablocki.
105 reviews1 follower
July 1, 2018
Awesome juvenile fiction! I think that there's a very compelling mythology to this series, and I'm very excited for the next book. This one set up a great story and introduced interesting characters and their dynamics. Would definitely recommend to people who enjoy books about bears! :-)
Profile Image for McArthur Library.
498 reviews8 followers
June 10, 2019
Animal fantasy - adventure is my favorite genre and this is definitely one of the best ever! If you're a fan of Erin Hunter's "Warriors" series this is a "must read"!! The world is changing, an evil force is trying to take over - how can two bear cubs make a difference? Read and fall in love.
Profile Image for Christine Lamoreaux.
122 reviews1 follower
December 26, 2021
Glorious! So glad I decided to ignore Patterson's newest Cross book (Fear No Evil) and continue with this series. Highly recommend, regardless of age. And, btw, I'm glad to be back on Goodreads. Hope everyone is doing well.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 74 reviews

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