Saturday, May 3, 2008

"Spellbound" by Margit Sandemo

"Spellbound: The Legend of the Ice People 1"
Format: Paperback, 277 pages
Publisher: Tagman Press

"Spellbound" is the first book in a 47 volume series, "The Legend of the Ice People", a series by Margit Sandemo that was a best-seller in Scandinavia and that now will be published in English.

The first book, "Spellbound", is set in Norway in 1581. Here, Silje Angrimsdotter, a 17 year old girl, finds herself thrown on the streets of Trondheim after the plague, that ravishes the country, kills her family. Starving and freezing she finds two children that she takes in her care, Sol a little girl who lost her mother and Dag an abandoned newborn child. And also she encounters Tengel of the Ice People who helps her find a new place to live and even takes her to his home in the mountains of the Ice People. And all this time Silje must overcome her fear for this people and the superstitions regarding them.

Margit Sandemo creates an excellent historical fiction and mainly because her care for the details. She describes the country very well, you can see Norway of those years and also you can feel the medieval atmosphere, with the fear for the "black death" that threatens every life, with the fear and the despise for the unfair authorities and Inquisition and with the usual superstitions of that era.

Another strong point of the novel is the characterization. The author does a great job with the characters, they are well build, they have depth and they seem very real. The characters background is carefully explained and they act as their condition. And when a character acts above his condition, for example Silje using a higher class language, the author is carefully explaining us why the character can do that. Margit Sandemo manages to catch also the psychology of the characters, with inner conflicts, with weaknesses and turmoil. Also the secondary characters are carefully build, like Charlotte Meiden, with her great interior struggle and Abelone, who appears for a short while in the novel, but reminded me of the Dickensian characters.

One thing didn't sound me right and that was the easy way with which the main characters talk about sexuality. First of all I don't think that in that period of time such notion existed and considering the condition of women in the 16th century I don't think that such a conversation would exist, even though the persons are in love. Secondly it seems strange because while Silje would talk about her sexuality, she would cover her knees in front of a man.

Sometimes the pace of the novel is slow, but I have to consider that the main theme of the novel is love and to admit that I haven't read many romantic books. So even if I have liked more action in the novel it is possible that the pace seem slow only to me.

I like historical fiction, I like epic books and I liked Medieval Scandinavia described by Margit Sandemo in "Spellbound". Also I have to confess that I eye picked through Internet about the next volumes and I am curious about the next novels in the series.


Peak said...

Congratulations of being the first (I've seen) that reviewed this book in English.. :)

Margit is originally a romance-writer, which should explain some of the sex and romance in these books.

Despite this, I would highly recommend these if you like fantasy. And this I say as a 37 year old male that hates romance novels.. :p

There is a lot of things to like in this series if you like fantasy, but there will also be a few things that makes you roll your eyes. Not a problem for me. It's a really long series, and a lot of good things with it.

The only really negative I can say is that I find that book 7-12 isn't as good as the rest of the series.

Mihai A. said...

Thank you very much :)
I like it even though isn't exactly what I expected. And you're right, some things make your eyes roll, but Margit Sandemo has talent. Also I don't regret reading it even it's mainly romance ;)
I look forward for the next novels.

Harry Markov said...

Oh, did you say 47 volumes? that author is quite productive and persistent in her writing. Wow! These are simply amazing numbers. Anyways this has bene an interesting review. I am not usually into historical fiction unless it's set in the 19th century.

Peak said...

Yes, it's an amazing feat to write 47 books, and it does

A list of the titles of the books:

The english translated titles are of course approximations by the one writing the article, and may be different from the official translation.

Here's the sidequel:

And the sequel to the two series above.

Not necessary to read these two series after "Legend of the Ice People", of course. It takes the story in different directions than the main sequence.

Mihai A. said...

Indeed 47 volumes seem a lot, but I read that they are set in different locations, from Europe to Asia.

And I think that this year the first 4 titles will be published in English, but could be more, I'm not certain.

Anonymous said...

Hi Dark Wolf..

Thanks for the review. I work for the English publisher that are publishing the book. The first four books have been translated and the covers have been designed.

If you want more information or join the mailing list you can do so by going to Margit's website (

Many Thanks

Margit Sandemo Official Website

ElvaDaisy said...

Hi and thanks for your review.
It's great to see that men also like these books, my husband has read them , and he won't be forced to read anything "girly" so I guess the great thing about The Legend of the Icepeple is that there is a bit for everyone in them.

Mihai A. said...

Dear Elva,
It's nice to change a little the registry from the brave and mighty men and see the delicate and beautiful part of life, the women :)

Anonymous said...

Nice review!
I have also written "reviews" of this book, and the 3 other released ones. Good to see I'm not alone :)

Mihai A. said...

Thank you. Your reviews look great too. I think I will read the rest of the books in the series next year, at the beginning :)

Caz' corner said...

I truly love the series. I am lucky enough to be Norwegian and thus be able to read the full series. It is such a shame they have not yet published all the books in English. I hope they will someday.

Anonymous said...

For those who are interested here is some additional information about the series. The original publisher published 6 books but then stopped, but now the books are being published en e-book and can now be purchased at all major e-book vendors. First two are already published and there are more to come soon.
Here is the link to the new ebook version on goodreads The Ice People 1 - Spellbound