The Icemark is not a country for the faint of heart. Hemmed in by mountains filled with strange creatures to the north, and the bloodthirsty Polypontian Empire to the south—led by the famed general Scipio Bellorum—the tiny Icemark has always struggled to defend itself. Yet it has always managed to fend off invaders—until now.
Thirrin Freer Strong-in-the-Arm Lindenshield is a warrior princess, the only child of the Icemark’s king. Known for her skill and daring, it has long been acknowledged that someday, she will lead her country well. But when her father is killed in a border conflict with Scipio Bellorum’s armies, fourteen-year-old Thirrin is left to lead her country into war against one of the most infamous generals in the world.
So she gathers her strength. With the help of her advisors—her elderly tutor and a witch’s son with more power than anyone seems to realize—Thirrin sets out to rally the strength of her country and forge new alliances. She joins with the fierce Hypolitan, seeks the aid of The-Land-of-the-Ghosts and the Wolf-Folk to the north, and journeys even further still, to partner with legendary Snow Leopards. But even with that added strength, will Thirrin be able to lead the Icemark into victory?
I’ve wanted to read The Cry of the Icemark for a while, and it did not disappoint. Thirrin is a strong and undauntable protagonist who reminded me of Kel, in that they are both fierce and brilliant female main characters. That said, although this is a fantasy novel with elements of a medieval/historical world, it doesn’t fall into the same mold as many others; it is multilayered and full of unusually portrayed magic, focusing on war while still having a story beyond it. The Cry of the Icemark may be about Thirrin’s struggle to protect her country, but it is so much more than that. This story is about alliances and friendships, the world and characters in some ways contributing more to the feel of the story than the war itself. Even if you feel tired of what may feel like repetitive fantasy novels, I suggest you give this one a try. And if you do like fantasy—particularly books like Seraphina, The Goblin Wood, or the Protector of the Small Quartet—this is definitely a top pick. To fantasy lovers ages eleven and up, I highly recommend The Cry of the Icemark.