Thursday, 26 August 2010

Book Review: Daughter of Fire and Ice by Marie Louise Jensen

"I’d always been fascinated by the tales of the new country. I was given to visions, to glimpses of the future. All my life I’d seen pictures of a strange place, a country I didn’t recognize. The tales I’d heard of Iceland matched the pictures in my mind. I was meant to go there one day. I knew it with absolute certainty. It was my destiny. Inescapable and unchangeable.”


'Following an attack on her family, fifteen-year-old Thora is enslaved by a brutish Viking chieftain, Bjorn Svanson. A healer and a midwife, Thora is valuable. She also has visions of the future ...and in one she foresees Svanson's death. When her prediction becomes reality, Thora recognizes that another of Svanson's slaves is a man she has seen before-a man from recurrent visions who is destined to be part of her future. Assuming Svanson's identity, the slave and Thora use the dead man's ships to escape. Their destination is Iceland, the then uncharted 'land of fire and ice'. To succeed they must first win over Svanson's crew, and their journey is fraught with hardship and danger. But their troubles are only just beginning. Soon, newcomers are among them and someone is stealing from Thora's medicines to cause terrible harm. Under suspicion herself, can Thora unmask the real culprit and clear her name? And can Thora and the man now known as Bjorn ever really hope that their pasts won't catch up with them?'
Succeeding in stealing the Svanson's ship and duping his drunken men, their journey is only just beginning but Thora beings to care deeply for the man who she only knows as Bjorn and realises that she is in love with him and she can sense that he feels the same. However, fate twists so that it is impossible she and Bjorn can be together. As she and the other travellers on the ship set about making their home in the harsh new land of Iceland, can she put the past behind her and enjoy her new life while she and Bjorn live in the same household but are separated forever?


What I loved most about this book was the main character Thora, seeing the journey and hardships through her eyes kept the book so fast paced and exciting and emotional at points. She is a gifted healer and midwife that is greatly valued by the community set up and I found it very interesting to learn about the plants she has to gather to use as medicine. Although her love for Bjorn that she must keep hidden for her sake and his is a constant burden and torment to her, she always remains strong. One of Thora's features are her constant visions from her Gods, which hit her suddenly and seem to always come true, sometimes proving useful but also bring pain knowing that a terrible event is going to happen.

Through her actions she proves herself to be a very brave and spirited girl always looking to help others and from the first chapter I liked her immediately. This was very important as the book leaps straight into the action of the story, with Thora's life being turned upside down in the first chapter and for the reader to sympathise with and care about what happens to her, they must like her.

The setting of Iceland, a new and unexplored world for the people of Denmark in those times and the Viking characters made the book all the more enjoyable to me. Even though I have never read a historical book about Vikings, I know that people sometimes associate them with longboats and battles so it was nice to read an interesting take on a small community struggling to survive in the land of 'fire and ice.'  A successful catch of fish and how many animals survived on the sea voyage was the difference between life and death in the book. Through Thora and the woman slave's chores in the household, I also learnt a bit about everyday life.

The plot was always introducing something new to keep you hooked and had many unexpected major twists at the beginning of the book that would influence Thora's life in Iceland for a long time to come. The way Marie Louise Jensen developed the distinct voice of Thora made such a difference and I shared her emotions all the way through the book, wanting life to have a happy end for her.
The ending implied things rather than reassured me that events were definitely going to happen which at first left me feeling a little disappointed until I discovered that a sequel is being released in January 2011 called Sigrun's Secret.

I have read all of Marie Louise Jenson's previous novels but I think this, her newest, is her best so far. The sense that I was there witnessing the story in Thora's world was created through descriptions that jumped out the page and into real life.

Verdict: Daughter of Fire and Ice is a compelling and vivid account of an attempt to start a community in the unexplored world of Iceland narrated by a sensitive yet feisty and persevering heroine matched with a handsome and wise hero. With a fast moving and emotional plot featuring survival, fear, joy and romance that cannot be, I would recommend Daughter of Fire and Ice to anyone fascinated by the past, romance fans or are just looking for a book with memorable and lifelike characters.


  1. Oooh, love this title and the cover!! I hadn't heard of this one before. Thanks for sharing!!

  2. You're welcome Carrie! I love the cover too, it's so striking and really fits in with the book. I'd love to hear what you think about the book if you do read it :)


  3. Really good review. gave me a good idea of whether Id like to read this book!

  4. Great review, I love this author's books as well!

  5. Thanks! I looove all of Jensen's books too :)

  6. This book sounds really good and like something I would enjoy. I would have overlooked it based on the cover, so I'm really glad I read your excellent review. Thanks!


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