Icefall by Gillian Phiip
Just finished reading Icefall by Gillian Philip which is the fourth and final instalment of the Rebel Angel series. It’s a sad day, the series has wrapped up and frankly I had tears in my eyes reading the finale. And that isn’t a spoiler of any kind. I was just so impressed with the imagery, the pure delight in words and the way GP brings the scene to life but also, more than that, the final outcome which brings everything together in such a satisfactory way.
A few years ago, I picked up Firebrand and fell in love with two brothers, totally different and yet each devoted to the other. A little bit wild and living beyond a veil, unseen by mortals, the sithe. I can’t really put my finger on it but this book just drew me in and I loved it. I won’t deny that Seth MacGregor is a shameless piece of mind candy but this series is so much more than his gorgeousness. GP takes a story about a sithe clan, she weaves her own magic and draws you into their world and then she throws you back into the real world! She brings to life the most amazing, desolate, harsh and brooding landscape and then lights it by the people who live there. Their loyalty and fierce devotion to each other are really quite beautiful to read about.
I’m not going to give away the plot for Icefall at all. It’s brutal in parts. It certainly doesn’t hold back and, as you will already know if you’re read the previous books, GP pulls no punches when it comes to favourite characters falling foul of their enemies. We start with Seth and his remaining clan living in the mortal world. They of course are drawn back to the world beyond the veil in order to meet various challenges and from there all out bloody war breaks loose. I’m not going to pretend here – you can’t read this as a self contained book! Okay, you need to go to the beginning and start from there. The relationships are complex and involved and GP is not one of those authors who gives long historical flashbacks – she expects you to hit the ground running and know what the hell she’s talking about and so if you haven’t read the others you’re going to have a busted nose. I respect this. I like the fact that I need to have read the other books and I really respect that I don’t get given a back story every time I pick up the latest edition.
I won’t deny that, at first, it took me a little while to get into this particular instalment and I began to have a sneaking suspicion that I was going to be disappointed. Thankfully I was absolutely wrong with that train of thought. Yes, it took me a little while to get into the story at first but on reflection, and with the knowledge of how the story develops I think the contrast between the first and second part of the story adds a whole new poignancy to the ending. And what undoubtedly kept me reading was GPs ‘word craft’. I love the way she sinks you into a place. You are totally immersed. Imagine yourself in a blank white room, nothing is there, your mind has little wires and strobes attached to a computer. You tap a few things into the keyboard and immediately a whole world springs to life on the walls around you. This is what GP achieves. She sinks you into the world. Even if it’s unattractive, harsh and unkind you are going there! And it’s not just the imagery, you can literally imagine yourself on a windswept beach with the wind whipping your hair and the sea crashing against the rocks, the spray breaking upon your face. The crashing sounds of the surf, the saltiness in the air. That’s just a tiny fraction. She pulls you into the lives of these fierce warriors who cling so desperately to each other in a world they’re trying to protect and hang on to even as they face the inevitable fact that their existence is moving in ever decreasing circles.
Anyway, I let myself get carried away there for a moment! This series has been one of my favourites. I won’t deny that there are bleak times. There are times when your eyes will fill and sting as you try to deny the tears. You will undoubtedly see loved ones lose their own battles but you will form attachments to this strange clan that will make leaving them so much more difficult to do.
On top of that – I love the resolution. I always worry with the last in a series that I will feel disappointed or cheated Or that things will miraculously come together in a very sugary fashion. It really isn’t something that I needed to worry about however and I’m only surprised at my own foolishness for even entertaining that idea with this particular author! The ending is just insightful and there’s an underlying message really – things move on, constantly – get used to it and roll with the times.
I would certainly recommend this series. It’s about the fae – but probably not as you’ve ever read about them before. They’re battle scarred and sometimes foolish. They live in a world where I would definitely struggle to survive! but boy do these people love each other with a fierceness that is almost bewitching to behold.
Well done to the author for such an entertaining series. If you want to read a little bit of a supernatural fantasy that is scattered with realism and frankly a little bit grimdark then give this one a go.
I received a copy of this courtesy of the author/publisher. The above is my own opinion.