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Publisher's Summary

Solveig, a princess, is trapped in a hidden fortress with her siblings. As they wait for the winter and the unending ice to break, acts of treachery soon make it clear that a traitor lurks in their midst. Can Solveig, her siblings, and her best friend Mark survive the long winter months and expose the traitor before he (or she) succeeds in destroying the king, his empire, and his children?
©2011 Matthew J. Kirby (P)2011 Scholastic Audio
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
2 out of 5 stars
By Jim "The Impatient" on 08-01-15


There is no mistake that Kirby can turn a phrase. This story had a great first two chapters, but then went down hill. I agree with another reviewer in that I like stories in the ice and snow, that is what drew me to this book. I like stories within stories. A story has to be half way believable, I don't care what age it is written for. It may be even more important to be well written for our younger readers. We want them to enjoy reading and to want to discover the great writers when they get older. If you bore them as children, you may lose them for life.

Bed Closet
As this story went on, we are suppose to believe that a bunch of mean mountain warriors are going to take seriously some little girls, girlish wishes. I got really tired of hearing about the goat they killed for meat, which the little girl, had as a pet. It was okay for a while, but the subject kept coming up and coming up. I also believe a lot more could have been written about the cold weather. See Jack London.

Narrator was good

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12 of 12 people found this review helpful

3 out of 5 stars
By Karissa Eckert on 11-13-14

Decent historical fantasy but slow at times.

I got this book to read because I loved Kirby’s Clockwork Three novel. This book was okay, it’s a bit slow. I did enjoy the mystery and all of the Norse mythology woven throughout though.

I listened to this on audiobook and the narrator did an excellent job. The narrator did a great job capturing emotions and giving all of the characters distinct voices.

Solveig and her siblings have been sent to winter in a hidden fortress while they wait for their father to finish up a war. Solveig’s father has sent them there to keep them safe and he sends a group of Berserker warriors to help safeguard the fortress. However as winter closes in the fjord ices over and no one can go into or out of the area. The group is strapped for food and desperate for news outside the fortress. Then bad things start happening, things that could threaten their survival and are most likely caused by treachery within the group.

This story is a very slow moving mystery. Most of the story revolves around the characters trying to keep themselves busy and survive a long winter in this abandoned fortress. There are long stretches of boredom broken up by acts of treachery that threaten the survival of those in the fortress.

Solveig is the youngest daughter and not pretty, she has been told she is worthless for a long time. However, Solveig shows promise in her excellent story telling and her father’s skald, Ulrich, starts to train her. It was wonderful to watch Solveig realize her own worth and gain confidence in herself as the story progresses.

Since Solveig is an excellent storyteller much of this book is stories within a larger story. Solveig tells stories about growing up and about other people who are wintering with her in the fortress. We get to learn more about the surrounding characters through these tales. All of the book is told from Solveig’s point of view, so it is only through her stories of others that we really start to see into the other characters’ minds.

Both Ulrich and Solveig tell stories about Norse mythology and about the customs of the time. These were fascinating and fun to listen to. They were especially well done since this was in audiobook format and I was listening to the stories just like the other characters.

The mystery that unravels is a bit predictable and very slow in its unveiling. I actually thought Solveig’s training as a Skald was more interesting than the surrounding mystery.

The writing is very well done. The descriptions are beautiful and lyrical. The settings throughout really come alive for the reader and I never had any trouble picturing the harsh and cold surroundings.

The story wraps up well and there is a very nice afterward explaining how Kirby did his research into Norse mythology. There is also an epic poem included that was seen as training for skald’s back in that time period.

Overall a well done historical fantasy. This book is mostly about stories, with Solveig’s coming of age story, and a bit of a mystery involving treason woven in between them. It moves very slowly and very deliberately. This is definitely not a fast-paced or action-packed read. However, I did really enjoy the stories throughout and the Norse mythology. I also really enjoyed watching Solveig grow in confidence and gain some self-worth. Recommended to those who don’t mind a deliberate read and are interesting in Viking/Norse mythology.

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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