Title: The Icebound Land
Author: John Flanagan
Series: The Ranger’s Apprentice #3
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Australian authors, Easy reading, Medieval fantasy
Publisher: Random House Australia
5th sentence, 74th page: His heavy saxe knife and throwing knife were easy to hand under his cloak, and he carried his longbow strung, resting across the pommel of his saddle, in Ranger fashion.
Will and Evanlyn are bound for Skandia as the captives of the fearsome Skandian wolfship captain, Erak. Halt has sworn to rescue Will, and he will do anything to keep his promise – even defy his King. Expelled from the Rangers, Halt is joined by Horace as he travels through Gallica towards Skandia. On their way, they are constantly challenged by freelance knights – otherwise known as thieving thugs. Horace knows a thing or two about combat, though, and he soon begins to attract the attention of knights and warlords for miles around with his uncanny skill. But will they be in time to rescue Will from a life of slavery?
This series really begins to read as one continuous story in the third instalment – the journey that Will and Evanlyn take in this novel begins immediately after the end of The Burning Bridge. Likewise, the end of this tale blends seamlessly into The Oakleaf Bearers. Sometimes this is an incredibly odd and sometimes unenjoyable tactic in an authors writing, however, Flanagan is able to pull it off seamlessly. I spent the time reading this not only turning the pages eagerly to find out what happens next in the chapter, but also to get to the next chapter to read the secondary storyline.
The Icebound Land explores a few very serious issues in a nice, easily accessible way through Will and Evanlyn’s capture. Firstly, there is the idea of slavery and their removal from everything that they know and love. Although Erak and his crew show a lot of care and kindness towards the two young people, they ultimately act as the villains for most of the tale. No act of kindness can erase the cruelty in creating slaves of two previously free individuals. Then, and for me, more emotively, the idea of drugs and drug addiction is explored. Will’s shambling, keening figure throughout the long journey to safety is such a stark contrast to the lively and fun boy that he begins as. It is heart breaking and quite difficult to read. And if it is that difficult to imagine a fictional character undergoing such a harsh change and ordeal, then the idea of someone you know and love going through this is far more potent and soul-crushing.
Lastly, The Icebound Land shows the depths of Halt’s loyalty and care towards his young charge. Although the first two books in the series show that there is a relationship, it is in this tale that the connection between both Will and Halt is truly illustrated. That’s not to discount Horace’s steadfast loyalty and maturity as the four characters’ race to find one another before the trail goes cold.
|<- The Burning Bridge Review||The Inkwell and the Dagger Review ->|