The Ice Queen: Book Two of Odd Tangle-Hair's Saga By Bruce MacbainPublication Date: November 30, 2015
Publisher: Blank Slate Press
eBook & Paperback; 285 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: Author/Publisher via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours for an honest review
The second volume of Odd Tangle-Hair’s Saga takes up Odd’s adventures as a skald (court poet) in the land of the Rus. Here he is drawn into a dangerous love affair with the passionate and cunning Princess Ingigerd of Novgorod, and is forced to break with his sworn lord, Harald the Ruthless. Along the way, Odd devises a stratagem to defeat the wild Pechenegs, nomadic warriors of the Russian steppe, and goes off on a doomed mission to explore the distant reaches of the Black Sea. The novel concludes with Odd sailing into the harbor of Constantinople, bent on a secret mission, which will almost certainly cost him his life.
Eager, curious, quick-witted—and sometimes wrong-headed—Odd Tangle-Hair recounts his story with candor, insight, and always an ironic sense of humor.
The Ice Queen is the second book in the Odd Tangle-Hair Saga -- and it is indeed a saga. Of course it is a Nordic tale and Odd - despite his young age - has many wild and dangerous adventures across vast expanses of the world. Now, Odd does make some questionable decisions which make some or many of his adventures less than enjoyable or pleasant, but his life wouldn't exactly be called boring.
Odd continues to be an engaging protagonist with a sense of humor - most of the time. Even though his youth certainly plays into some of his poor decisions, he is wily and tough -- he manages to get out of many close calls and come up with some pretty ingenious plans for survival. His main weakness seems to be for Princess Ingigerd - she is truly an ice queen - cold and calculating and able to seduce and scheme to get what she wants.
Harald is exactly what we all expect - a good warrior, but a pretty awful person and not a friend in any sense of the word. Prince Yaroslav is an interesting character - he appears fairly weak and easily influenced at his palace, but seems to come into his own when he is away at war. There are several other memorable characters that wind through the narrative and have an influence on Odd - for good or ill.
As the saying goes: If it weren't for bad luck, Odd would have no luck at all. That pretty much sums up much of his adventures --- even though others make decisions as poor as his, Odd just doesn't get much of a break. He is betrayed over and over again -- and winds up in some abysmal situations.
I am looking forward to reading the third installment in Odd's saga -- I can't wait to find out what happens to him in Constantinople. The Ice Queen is definitely a novel that I will recommend - it brings the period to life in a way that some of the histories just can't. I think that the whole of Odd Tangle-Hair's Saga would be great assigned reading to go along with the biographies of Snorri Sturluson - and yes, the biographies are assigned reading for my teens in their homeschool curriculum.
About the AuthorFrom boyhood, Bruce Macbain spent his days in reading history and historical fiction. The Greeks and Romans have held a special fascination for him, and this led to earning a master’s degree in Classical Studies and a doctorate in Ancient History. Along the way, he also taught English as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Borneo. Later, he taught courses in Greek and Roman civilization at Boston University, and published a few dense monographs, read by very few. In recent years he has turned to writing fiction, a much more congenial pursuit, beginning with two historical mysteries set in ancient Rome (Roman Games and The Bull Slayer). Now, he has turned his attention to his other favorite folk, the Vikings. Odin's Child , the first novel of Odd Tangle-Hair’s Saga, was published in May, 2015 and is now followed the sequel, The Ice Queen. A concluding volume will follow next year.
Bruce spends his spare time in the kitchen, cooking spicy food.
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