Ice Land: A Novel

Ice Land: A Novel

by Betsy Tobin

I’m Kim Alexander and this is Fiction Nation, smart reviews for modern readers on Sirius XM Book Radio. The book is Ice Land by Betsy Tobin.

What do you know about Iceland? Probably a little more than you did at this time last month. Thanks to an unpronounceable volcano throwing ash into the air and air travel in Europe into chaos, Iceland is suddenly on the map. Here’s food for thought — there are 35 active volcanoes in Iceland, and scientists are keeping a close eye on the string of much larger and more powerful volcanoes, called the ‘Angry Sisters’.

Here are some more things I recently learned about Iceland: it had the world’s very first democracy, it lies just outside the Arctic Circle, and it has no railroads or indigenous reptiles. And even though its beauty is legendary, you can’t get there right now because the airports are still closed. So how to get there? Another way to transport yourself is through Betsy Tobin’s magical, romantic Ice Land — the title is written as two words. Set at the turn of the last millennium, life is as difficult, dirty, dangerous and generally short as you might expect, but it’s also beautiful in the way of dangerous things, and full of fiercely independent men and women who believe religion is something that ought to be left alone by those in power. This was at roughly the time that Christianity was replacing Paganism in Europe, and in this book at least, Paganism was not going down without a fight. So in amidst the tale of starcrossed lovers, political maneuvering and general warrior badassery, comes a different but equally powerful story, told by Freya, the Norse goddess of love. Her story is deeply romantic, full of magic and loss, and yes, there is a guest starring appearance by Hekla, the most famous volcano of those Angry Sisters. The two stories — human and immortal — are as intertwined as the lives of the people and the volatile Icelandic land itself. If the airports ever open, this is a trip I’m very eager to take.


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