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.




Wolfsbane by Gillian Philip

Just finished reading Wolfsbane, the third instalment of Gillian Philip’s rebel angels series.  In case you haven’t read the other bookss pay a visit to Firebrand and Bloodstone and be aware that this review may contain spoilers.

Firebrand brought to us a new sithe world.  Much harsher than we’d seen before. A world separated from ours by a veil.  A world of strained loyalties and clans and uncompromising warriors.  The sithe world is threatened however by the ambitions of the Queen.

In this latest edition life seems to actually be going well for Seth’s clan.  Everything appears calm, apart from his son Rory who is starting to rebel himself against the level of restrictions placed upon him and the careful scrutiny he is constantly under.  But this is just the calm before the storm.

The Queen is still plotting, she hasn’t forgotten Seth or the Bloodstone but she’s playing the long game.  Meticulous planning and the careful planting of seeds of discontent in the fertile soil of a few bitter minds are about to cause havoc to the lives of Seth and his clan.  Things are about to get messy.

I don’t want to over elaborate on the plot so lets focus on other things.

The characters – have moved on again.  Rory is now a teenager with a mind of his own who doesn’t realise in what danger he is in and how his life is constantly under threat.  He desperately wants to impress Seth but more than that he wants a friend, a distraction, and he’s about to find one in Hannah.  Hannah is a new edition to the series.  I like her.  She’s not all fearless and kick ass – she’s somewhat more realistic.  She doesn’t like heights, she’s afraid of the dark, but she’s part sithe and she’s about to come over and spend some time with Seth’s clan.

Finn has returned – much to the displeasure of some of the Sithe – not everybody is willing to forgive and forget after all.  And then we have Seth who after hundreds of years seems to finally have grown up – or at least he’s found a whole new sense of responsibility in terms of his son and what comes with that is a whole new world of fear, one that he isn’t used to.

I thought this was a great instalment to the series.  We get to spend time in both worlds as the Sithe play hide and seek with each other.  We have the new edition of a really great, bloodthirsty and lacking in any sort of sympathy baddie and on top of that we have Seth.  I can’t deny that Seth is a guilty indulgent pleasure.  Written personally for me!   Like Hannah, I’m no lover of heights but I think I would also scale down a cliff also if he was watching out for me (or more to the point catch me when I fall).

This was a great third book – no third book syndrome.  Plenty of action, although – tiny criticism – it does take a little time to kick in – but come on, give Seth’s clan a break after all.  They can’t always be killing baddies and suffering all out war (otherwise there’d be very few of them left).

And, yes, this book is also not without casualties.  The drama escalates to a thrilling hunt topped off with a bloody battle.  And, the end…. another long wait while we see what Seth can do now.  It’s no longer just about the clan – Seth has to protect his son after all.

Firebrand by Gillian Philip

Posted On 1 January 2011

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This is my last book for 2010 – even though I’m writing it on the 1st day of January 2011 – I finished reading the book yesterday but didn’t have chance to put anything down.

Quite simply this book took my breath away.  I started it yesterday and I finished it yesterday – and in between time I did nothing but read – that’s how captivating this was.

This is a story about Seth and his brother Conal who are Sithe warriors.  The Sithe people are faeries who live behind a veil.  They are predominantly warriors who have a range of abilities such as healer or witch.  They are ultimately ruled by a Queen – Kate – who they all swear fealty to.  Seth and Conal are half brothers – Seth being the illegitimate son of a Sithe nobleman.  Seth spent his early years living with his mother at court but he was unwelcome there and equally as unwelcome at his father’s fortress where he is sent to live.

Seth is an excellent character – he’s cocky and cheeky, angry, brave and completely devoted to his brother Conal – the relationship between the two brothers is really well written.  When Conal is banished to live among the full mortals Seth chooses to go with him and there they try to survive amongst people who are deeply superstitious and brutal and where to be deemed ‘different’ can be fatal – particularly at a time when witch hunts are common place.

There is such a lot packed into this book and it is so well written that the characters and the world just come alive.  There is adventure, romance, intrigue, greed, jealousy – oh, everything – not to mention two gorgeous characters in Seth and Conal.

If you don’t read any other book this year make sure you read this one.

Strongly recommend this book and can’t imagine anybody not enjoying the story and the way it’s written.

Rating A+++