REVIEW: Prince of Ice by Stobie Piel
Dear Ms Piel,
I was excited to see the sequel to Strange Brews and looked forward to watching the defeat of the Dark Mage. You’d set this story up so well, leaving us with evil only temporarily defeated and what should be a strong hero and heroine waiting to take it on. It’s too bad that Prince of Ice turns out to be only an adequate Quest Against Evil storyline. Plus the Arch Mage needs to read this checklist before attempting to take over the world again.
In a land of enchantment, mages with magical energy called ki work their spells. In their ancient history, a dark wizard once tried to take over the world only to be defeated. But he wasn’t killed and rose up again in Strange Brews. Two mages, Eliana and Damir, along with a young Norsk boy helped send him back into a spell of suspension. Now 10 years later he’s ready to try again. He’s sent out dark energy which has felled all the Woodland mages except young Cahira. Before they lost conscienciousness, Damir and Eliana told Cahira to travel to the land of their enemies, the Norsk, and seek the boy who helped them 10 years ago, Aren son of Arkyn. Cahira is only 17 and enlists the aid some Woodland mundanes, people with no magical ki, to help her. So, our little rag tag band sets off to the Norskland where they persuade Aren along with some of his people to join them in their quest.
It’s at this point that I began to see that this would mainly be a typical fantasy quest book.
- -Dark enemy who wants to take over and enslave everyone? Yes.
- -An almost hopeless situation with only a few stalwarts thought to be unequal to the task left to stop him? Got that.
- -The stalwarts bicker amongst themselves as they journey together and defend themselves against evil? Oh, yes, lots and lots of bickering. Tons of bickering. Bickering that goes on for pages about everything.
- -Hero and heroine who bicker even more than their followers yet who find themselves falling in love? This is a romance/fantasy book, of course they fall in love.
- -Wise old sage who travels with the band and who always has a wise old sage comment to make about almost everything? Could we have a Quest story without this type of character?
- -Final showdown with evil? Now here’s where you diverged from what I was expecting and gave me something different. Thank you for this ending. Even though it sets up what is obviously book three in the series.
I admit to being disappointed that so much of this book read like so many others of its type I’ve read (and watched on the Platinum Edition, extended release director’s cut DVDs). It’s an OK story but just not as fresh or imaginative as Strange Brews. The characterization falls a little flat as well with each member of the band playing a stock character. Cahira annoys me too. Yes, she’s young and untried, I can understand that. But she only matures a tiny little bit by the end of the book and her vaunted strong ki never appears to affect the outcome of the battle. And then there’s the villain’s henchman. Why did you make this character so obviously on the dark side? There’s almost no suspense about the betrayal since you’ve done everything except hit us over the head with a frying pan and scream, “that’s the villain!” Why did you even bother to be coy at all about this?
Like I said, the ending helps this book but not that much. C