Book of the Ice 01: The Girl and the Stars

Book of the Ice 01: The Girl and the Stars

Rating: 5 out of 5.

In the ice, east of the Black Rock, there is a hole into which broken children are thrown.

On Abeth the vastness of the ice holds no room for individuals. Survival together is barely possible. 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 not the same.

Yaz is torn from the only life she’s ever known, away from her family, from the boy she thought she would spend her days with, and has to carve out a new path for herself in a world whose existence she never suspected. A world full of difference and mystery and danger.

Yaz learns that Abeth is older and stranger than she had ever imagined. She learns that her weaknesses are another kind of strength. And she learns to challenge the cruel arithmetic of survival that has always governed her people.

Only when it’s darkest you can see the stars.

Goodreads, Synopsis

Review

his was exactly the kind of book I needed to bring me out of my reading slump. It’s great.

I’ve read a few Mark Lawerence books recently. First, Red Sister, which is the first book in the Book of the Ancestor series and was looking forward to book 2. But then, Mark was kind enough to send me a short story which follows on from the Red Queen’s War trilogy—a trilogy I had yet to read. I’ve read the first two books in the past 6 weeks or so. I’ve really enjoyed them also. When I saw The Girl and the Stars appear on NetGalley, I requested it as Mark in now one of my favourite authors, and luckily my request was accepted. Receiving an ARC does not impact my reviews.

The Girl and the Stars is set in the same world as the Book of Ancestor series, though you do not need to have read it t read this book, and this book contains no spoilers for the Book of the Ancestor series. They are totally different stories. The world of Abeth is a frozen planet, very very thickly covered in ice, except for the ‘corridor’ which is also known as the ‘green belt’. This belt is where the Book of the Ancestor series takes place. The Girl and the Stars takes place on the ice.

“Many babies have killed, but it is very rare that the victim is not their mother.

We follow sixteen-year-old Yaz throughout the entire story, however, this does not take away how great some of the other characters are. This book is wonderfully written, and the story masterfully told. Yaz is a member of the Ictha tribe, the physically strongest of the ice tribes—the only tribe able to survive in the coldest regions on the ice. She is fiercely loyal to her friends and family. A protector. Somebody willing to make sacrifices. She’s relatable as a young person going through changes in her life, emotionally. She tries to do what’s right. She also happens to be incredibly powerful. She’s a quantal, which if you’ve read the Book of the Ancestor series you’ll understand.

Similarly, there are others who are Marjal, Hunska or Gerant. Again, you’ll already know these if you’ve read Book of the Ancestor. Don’t worry if f you haven’t, as I have already said, they are not linked, other than the world and you’ll learn about each in this book.

Every four years the ice tribes come together at the place where there is a large hole in the ice created by heat from below. Children are assessed by the Regulator, if he deems them broken, he throws them down the hole. Among the tribes, it is believed that the broken children cannot survive on the ice. Therefore, for the good of the tribes they are thrown down the hole, presumably to their death. Children need to be at least eight (from memory) before they can be tested and must pass two tests, four years apart, before they are accepted as adults and permanent members of their tribe.

“In the ice, east of the Black Rock, there is a hole into which broken children are thrown.”

However, the children don’t die, there is a whole world at the bottom of the hole. Filled with factions, evils, machines, and a rich history. Plus, plenty of twists and turns in the plot all the way to the end… cliffhanger anyone?

One thing I really love about this book is how Lawerence introduces lore so naturally. It isn’t weighty. It isn’t unnatural. It’s isn’t forced. It’s done beautifully and it was wonderful to learn more about the world of Abeth and the Missing. There are some ‘drops’ about the gods but these are then referred to in the story too. One-character who is key to learning the lore is Erris, who is thousands of years old, but I’ll leave it at that as I don’t want to give any spoilers. Another is the ‘evil’ Theus who helps drive some of the lore. While on the topic of ‘evil’, there are a few villains of varying degrees in this book, and all are well-written. They are not just evil and that is that. There is reason and meaning. And, in the case of Theus, he’s one of those who you begin to wonder about, is he really evil? Is it his fault?

The dialogue throughout is meaningful, I didn’t feel there were words wasted. And the story is great. It’s the trials of life in almost inhospitable conditions. The challenges of a society so pressured by their environment. The haunting remnants of the past. It’s a story filled with injustices and obstacles to be overcome. I was fully engrossed in a way I haven’t been since reading Mistborn 1-3 and the Kingkiller Chronicle. I’d still put those books slightly ahead of this, but this trilogy could be truly magical. It was so easy to visualise the world and I kept thinking how great this would look on TV.

I have yet to read all of Mark’s book, but I will do in the coming months, but from what I have read so far, this is his best work yet. I cannot wait for the second book.

“Now though, with darkness and despair literally reaching out to engulf her, she knew how cruel and fragile a thing hope is, and how sharp the edges of new forged dreams can be once shattered.”