"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.