So, I’ve finished The Girl and the Stars, book 1 of the Book of Ice series by Mark Lawrence.
And it turns out… all his series are connected. Not only did this series link with Red Sister – which was obvious from the outset because it also takes place in Abeth – but it also links with every other series, including Broken Empire and Impossible Times.
There are now a few essays where fans have outlined all the ways they connect. The Lawrenceverse, I’ve heard it called. This is quite a masterpiece, Mark Lawrence. Quite the masterpiece.
This means The Book of Ice, while a standalone series for those who have never read anything else by Mark Lawrence, is quite a different beast for those of us who have read his other works.
So, what is the book about? Onwards, we go!
Only when it’s darkest can you see the stars.
East of the Black Rock, out on the ice, lies a hole down which broken children are thrown
On the vastness of the ice there is no room for individuals. No one survives alone.
To resist the cold, to endure the months of night when even the air itself begins to freeze, requires a special breed. Variation is dangerous, difference is fatal. And Yaz is different.
Torn from her family, from the boy she thought she would spend her life with, Yaz has to carve a new path for herself in a world whose existence she never suspected. A world full of danger.
Beneath the ice, Yaz will learn that Abeth is older and stranger than she had ever imagined.
She will learn that her weaknesses are another kind of strength. And she will learn to challenge the cruel arithmetic of survival that has always governed her people.
First of all, it was wonderful to revisit Abeth. I’d always been drawn to the ice-lands discussed in the Book of the Ancestor trilogy, and it was wonderful to get a deeper look at how people lived there.
It turns out, it’s a much harsher place than I imagined. Children who are different, have no place on the ice and must attend a ceremony where they are judged. Those who pass may continue to live with their families, those that fail are pushed into a hole in the ice and left for dead.
However, it turns out, that once pushed down the hole, death does not always await. Something is happening under the ice. Children and demons live there, black ice, and stars, and a city long forgotten.
Yaz is a wonderful protagonist to follow. She is young and naive, but also loyal and brave. She begins to unravel the mystery of the stars and forgotten city – and we meet some familiar faces as she begins her journey.
I really enjoyed this book and piecing together the mysteries. As usual, Mark Lawrence’s prose is beautiful, and the story is gripping. It’s a little more ‘young adult’ in tone, I think because Yaz and a group of children are the leads of the story, but thematically it’s actually quite complex. I suspect (given the cliff-hanger) the story will age up in The Girl and the Mountain.
In fact, this series is so intriguing, that I’ve decided to go back and read/re-read every other Mark Lawrence book before continuing with The Girl and the Mountain. I want to read one of these essays and see if I agree/disagree and come up with my own theories.
I read Broken Empire last year, so have decided to start my re-read with The Red Queen’s War trilogy. The Fantology discord are starting their book club read of Prince of Fools in May. If anyone else is interested in reading this, feel free to join in.
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