Ossus Library Index
Fantasy Index


A novel by Patty Jansen
(2011, Capricornica Publications)

Icefire Trilogy, book 1

Generations after the old king was deposed, a man comes to regain the throne by force, using the power of the Icefire below the city. But the Knights of the Eagle will not sit idly by and let him regain control, and those he wants to use to use do not want to be used.


+ -- First reading (ebook)
April 10th to 13th, 2018


An interesting introduction to this series, but interestingly, without any real likeable characters. Tandor is out for revenge and has no problem using people to his own extreme ends, so I didn’t think he should win. But the Knights were even worse, holding onto and abusing their power, so I didn’t want them to win, either. The final solution was a better fit, and now the world is turned upside down, which makes me wonder where this is going with the second book. I like that the author’s descriptions were detailed, but rarely stopped the story.

Spoiler review:

I did enjoy this book, but it falls into the class of settings that I liked, rather than characters, and that’s more of a problem because good characters make for a good story. There are characters that we love to hate, but there were none of these in this book, either. I got tired of Carro’s whining and self-doubt really quickly, so much that I wasn’t looking forward to his chapters.

Fortunately, there is enough in this book to keep it moving forward. The world is one I’ve seen before, where the reigning king was deposed for subjugating his people, in this case with icefire, and the ruling class is one that feels it is entitled to rule the people, without any say, and they are no better than the old king was. Enter Tandor, who is descended from the old king, and who wants revenge, as well as his birthright to rule.

Tandor’s reasons for eliminating the Eagle Knights is revenge, and along with his arrogant attitude, made him someone I didn’t want to succeed. Using icefire, he can turn people into servitors, strong creatures that cannot be killed, entirely under his control (or so he thinks), and can only be seen by those who can see icefire. People are justifiably scared of him because of this. Apparently the old king did this kind of thing, until the Pirosians took over. We don’t know at this point in the story if the king had justifiable reasons for doing this, or perhaps he was just losing his grip, so turned more and more people into an army of servitors until he was overwhelmed.

So there is a rich backstory to this series, and that’s a nice thing to navigate. It’s a variation on what we’ve seen before, but has its own twists, and I really liked hearing about the history. I hope we get more in future books.

Tandor comes to Bordertown at the start of the book to learn that the Imperfect kids he was harboring there have been taken by the Eagle Knights. He sets off for the City of Glass to rescue them, as his entire plan to take over this part of the world hinges on being able to turn them into servitors. He takes Myra, a pregnant Imperfect girl, with him, because he wants to use her, too. His plans go awry (as the best stories do to them) when he discovers that an Imperfect boy he was hiding in the Outer City has actually joined the Knights. While this angers Tandor, it’s also puzzling, because Imperfects are not allowed to live, and the law is enforced by the Knights.

It turns out that Isandor has been unconsciously hiding his missing leg by using icefire, so nobody has noticed. Isandor rejects Tandor, and manages to win the love of the queen, another Imperfect, unknown to almost everybody.

Carro starts the book as Isandor’s best friend, an awkward boy who is teased and bullied by the other Apprentice Knights. Near the start of the book, he is even raped by them. By the end of the book, he’s the one doing the raping. For his true father, unbeknownst to anybody, is the Supreme Rider Cornatan, who also wants to cement his power by getting queen Jevaithi pregnant.

Cornatan and Carro are true Pirosians, and with the proper weapons, can suck icefire from its sources. Carro does this to injure Ruko, Tandor’s servitor, and he weakens Tandor as well. Elevated in rank, Carro marches in the city in charge of a group of Knights. All the while, he whines that he is not worthy, that Cornatan has been mistaken in giving him this power. Carro could actually be a nice guy. He doesn’t want to hurt anybody, and he’s very shy, which makes him undesirable to the girls. The fertile ones want to be used as breeders, and they want the best stock, so to speak. Carro grows increasingly jealous of Isandor, always desired by the women (though he’s never been with a girl because it would expose his missing leg).

There is a strange scene that requires more explanation at this point, as Cornatan uses icefire to teach Carro how to use the staff. But it seems that he can’t see icefire because he’s true Pirosian. It really looks like he can’t see Isandor’s missing leg, or the servitor walrus. So was he actually using icefire? Or something else? Or is he hiding a way for Pirosians to use icefire somehow?

When Isandor wins the Knight’s competition, the queen sees that he is just like her, and gives him the honor of the ritual slaughter, queen’s champion. However, when he takes the walrus’ heart (I like the way they’re called legless lions), he turns it into a servitor. Some people can see it, meaning they have Thillien blood, but most cannot, which means they are Pirosian. Havoocis wreaked for the rest of the story. The queen tries to command, but she’s only fifteen years old, sheltered all her life, andis wreaked for the rest of the story. The queen tries to command, but she’s only fifteen years old, sheltered all her life, and Cornatan is fed up with her. She knows that he’ll rape her that night, so she gets away from him as Isandor finds her. They are captured by Ruko, but turn each other into servitors so they can pass through walls and remain invisible.

Taking Isandor’s Eagle, they escape the city, and remain there until the end of the book, while Carro has gone in search of them. I liked the romance and passion between Isandor and Jevaithi, whose sole reason for that love was they they were the only other Imperfects they knew of. But somehow, the author still made it feel real, even down to the first time they make love, which was disappointing, only to try again with more success. Probably how most teens perceive it. What I didn’t understand here was the discussion about remaining servitors. They have each others’ hearts from the process, and are shimmering blue or invisible, and they have a discussion about remaining servitors for the rest of their lives. Then they exchange hearts, putting hers inside him and his inside her. They don’t follow through on remaining servitors, as they return to normal, being Imperfects once again. Does possessing the others’ hearts make them less vulnerable? Because they’ve returned to normal, they don’t seem to be servitors. I’m not sure what that conversation actually means.

Tandor enters the city of glass when Myra’s baby is in trouble as she’s giving birth, going to the more experienced midwives there. He goes straight to the chambers under the city, where he finds his missing Imperfect kids, who have been implanted with mini icefire sinks, similar to the staff that Carro carries. When the Heart under the city, the source of icefire, reaches its maximum, the kids wander off to the Heart chamber, where they proceed to suck up all of the icefire, leaving the Heart an empty shell, leaving Tandor helpless. Not only that, but the city of glass is shattered, collapsing into heaps of broken glass. Ruko saves Tandor, but everything seems to be in ruins, as the kids, now grown into towering giants, surround the former city with a forcefield of some kind.

Tandor, Myra, and Loriane, the midwife and Tandor’s love, just barely escape.

So we’re left on a cliffhanger, and the story continues…


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