Review: Spellbound (The Legend of the Ice People, Book 1) by Margit Sandemo

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Spellbound by Margit Sandemo (cover)

Spellbound (The Legend of the Ice People, Book 1)

by Margit Sandemo

Tagman Worldwide, 2008
Paperback, 255 pages
ISBN: 1903571758 (Amazon UK) 9781903571750 (BookRabbit)

This very readable novel is the first in a series by best-selling Scandinavian author Margit Sandemo, whose books are being made available for the first time in English. Sandemo is the author of a hundred and seventy novels, a feat that becomes more believable when you note that, at two-hundred-and-fifty-five nicely-spaced pages, "Spellbound" is actually a bit short for a Fantasy novel. A forty-seven-book series is still an impressive achievement whatever way you look at it.

"Spellbound" introduces Silje, an orphaned teenager who has come to the big city of Trondheim seeking refuge after her family is wiped out by disease. Destitute and starving, Silje takes another orphan and a foundling under her wing, before falling in with what she believes to be a group of rebels against the absentee king.

Induced to save one of the 'rebels' from torture and execution, Silje wins the protection of their fascinating and mysterious leader. Returned to the threatening mountains--home to the Ice People of the title-- that she thought she had escaped, she begins a new life with the two children. But peace and tranquility cannot last for long, and soon Silje is driven once again to seek help from the rebels--but are they rebels? And what is their leader's secret, a secret that troubles him so much that he has sworn never to lie with a woman.

This book was a fast and enjoyable read. Silje is a whole person--a woman sensual yet chaste, vulnerable yet competent. She finds depths of strength within herself when rising to the challenges she's forced to face, while at the same time yearning to express her creative side. There are some lovely touches when her lack of domesticity is observed or commented on. She's been promised a different future in which she can express herself, but, meanwhile, the baby has nappy rash.

The sixteenth-century setting convinces at least partly because the author doesn't try too hard--she has nothing to prove. The stark ice and snow, the long wagon journey on which the baby can't be fed because his milk is frozen, and so his "screams would echo in giant caverns".

Where the book perhaps falls down is in setting out what the characters are feeling too clearly, rather than enabling the reader to make deductions based on observation. Telling us what Silje is feeling means her feelings are only shallowly felt; this deprives the book of much of the passion it's striving for. If those feelings could be evoked in the reader with something of the author's own intensity, this book would be unputdownable.

Closing off its story arc nicely, this volume of "The Legend of the Ice People" leaves plenty of threads dangling to induce the reader to try more.

- reddit, digg, facebook, stumbleupon, etc... please! ;)
posted by Debbie

8 comments; 3 subscribers

Wednesday, January 28, 2009 / 11:44:24
To WIN the review copy of "Spellbound" (and it's very handsome and red!) let us know in comments who you'd like to cast a spell on--and what spell would it be?

Contest is open to anyone resident in the UK/EU and closes on February 11th 2009 (midnight pacific time). Let the bespelling begin!
Wednesday, January 28, 2009 / 12:24:56
USofA here, but I'll still participate because I love these things haha:

I would definitely cast a spell on America's economy to be brought back to normal. Being just a college student with no job and such, I've actually not really felt the affects of it. The tuition went up $100 this semester, but that isn't 'horrible', I guess.

No, I felt a real affect when it was announced recently that MAD Magazine, my second favorite mag ;), is now being published quarterly. ... Oh never has such sadness ever been brought upon me!!!
Wednesday, January 28, 2009 / 12:34:38
Just imagine the joy you'll feel, though, when GUD announces the same. ;) ((we're trying to get a more stable foothold first, so it's somewhat of a rolling target))
Wednesday, January 28, 2009 / 12:37:09
Wednesday, January 28, 2009 / 12:40:45
well, MAD went _down_ to quarterly, we'll be going _up_ to quarterly. So it will be much the opposite reaction, I presume.
Wednesday, January 28, 2009 / 12:42:25
Take it to the forum, guys!
Thursday, February 12, 2009 / 03:52:37
I find it sad that nobody signed up to win this book. It's a pretty good book you're missing out on :).
Saturday, February 14, 2009 / 07:50:13
"Spellbound" is now out in the wild thanks to">BookCrossing.

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