Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Review: Black Ice

Black Ice (Midgard, #2)Author: Susan Krinard
Series: Midgard, #2
Published: August 12th 2014
Publisher: Tor
Lenght: 384 pages
Source: Publisher for review

New York Times bestselling author Susan Krinard continues the thrilling urban fantasy series that began with Mist in Black Ice.
Centuries ago, all was lost in the Last Battle when the Norse gods and goddesses went to war. The elves, the giants, and the gods and goddesses themselves were all destroyed, leaving the Valkyrie known as Mist one of the only survivors.
Or so she thought.
The trickster god Loki has reappeared in San Francisco, and he has big plans for modern-day Earth. With few allies and fewer resources—but the eyes of the gods and goddesses of an old world upon her—it’s up to Mist to stop him before history repeats itself.

It’s pretty safe to say that the meaty, old-school urban fantasy Susan Krinard writes isn’t for everyone. This series is the epitome of its genre, heavily based in Norse mythology, with plenty of action but not a whole lot of romance to speak of. The upside, of course, is the abundance of information on Norse mythology, which is both entertaining and very educational. But at the same time, things like character development and humor suffer for it, and there is very little lightness to make this a more pleasurable reading experience for those who are not dedicated fans of the genre itself.

Trying to see Black Ice through the eyes of someone who doesn’t adore the genre itself was sometimes very hard. There is certainly more accessible urban fantasy to be found, and Krinard’s work is far more appropriate for urban fantasy purists. There are, believe it or not, people who prefer their UF free of humor, romance, and other things that serve to dilute and soften the narrative. I myself am not one of them, but I can appreciate what I like to call high urban fantasy on occasion.

Generally, Krinard’s sense of humor leaves a lot to be desired. I was disappointed by it in the first book, and this time it’s even more pronounced: this is an author who seems to be wholly unfamiliar with the concept of comic relief. In a narrative so heavily burdened with mythology, ancient weapons, gods and goddesses, a humorous remark here and there would have made a world of difference. As it is, there are parts that seem a bit dry and hard to get through.

Truth be told, this book also needed more in the way of character development. Mist’s powers continue to grow rapidly, reflecting the fact that she’s not just a regular Valkyrie, but daughter of the goddess Freya herself. While her powers grow almost beyond control, Mist remains the same. She is the quiet, stoic heroine, almost to the point of being bland. She has very few defining qualities and no faults to speak of, which makes it very hard for us to see her as an actual person and sympathize with her.

It needs to be said that the worldbuilding here is quite spectacular. Admittedly, it relies heavily on Norse mythology, but I was impressed both by Krinard’s research and by her use of mythological figures. Loki, of course, causes mayhem on every turn (try reading this without picturing Tom Hiddleston as Loki, I dare you), and Freya, a silent threat so very distant but so present at the same time, was even more impressive.

My emotional investment starts and ends with Loki’s son Danny, an autistic boy too powerful not to be considered a threat to gods. Krinard was very smart to include him in this installment, not only because he makes us feel protective, but because he makes Loki a far more interesting villain.

Overall, I will be reading the next book, despite the flaws mentioned. There are things that could have been better, but there’s also plenty to admire. This series may not be for everyone, but I’m already deeply invested in it.

A copy of this book was kindly provided by the publisher for review purposes. No considerations, monetary or otherwise, have influenced the opinions expressed in this review.


  1. High urban fantasy... dare I say you've invented a genre?!?!?! I've not heard that term before but I can totally tell it fits this book to a "T"!!!! This would be a book my hubs would LOVE if he could only get over his fear of woman writers (he's got a thing for author voices, which I get). I need a bit more humor/distraction in my UF.

    This is a fantastic review, though, because you perfectly summed up the book! BTW... why do you have this labeled "mini-review"?? Hahahah - no way, girl!!! :)

  2. While I think that world building sounds pretty much awesome, especially because it has Norse mythology, I would need more character development. Being able to emotionally connect with my characters is so important to me.
    Lovely review, Maja.

  3. Aw, sad to hear that the sense of humor left some to be desired

  4. I read the first book in this series Maja and was a touch overwhelmed by the sheer amount of Norse mythology imparted as well as all the unfamiliar terminology. I LOVE all types of mythology, but I also need strong characters and, yes, a little humor or romance, to offset the weight of so much information. I don't think this is the series for me for all that I enjoyed Mist overall, unless of course the next book just blows you away, then I might need to pick it back up!

  5. Great review Maja, I don't quite think this will be the one for me. I am not a purist by any stretch of the imagination. I like humor and romance and all the others things. I don't want it to be too fantasy. ;)

  6. C'mon! "people who prefer their UF free of humor, romance, and other things that serve to dilute and soften the narrative" really? I cannot believe that as for me that's what makes UF so appealing to me. I think I'll be skipping this one. Great review, Maja :)

  7. While I am a huge fan of books with mythology, I don't think this series is for me though I'm glad to hear that the world building was done really well.

  8. Ah yes you're right about the character's develpment because I would have loved that. And trye be told I also loved Danny, he is an amazing kid and I was curious to see what he would do. I can't wait to see what she will give us next.

  9. I found book 1 boring, so not for me

  10. I'm quite tempted by this series because of the whole Norse mythology thing, since I've been quite interested as of late and a book heavy on well researched myths sounds fantastic.
    Dry and non-humorous writing doesn't sound like my preferred kind though...

    And to tell the truth, Maja... I cannot read the word Loki and NOT picture Tom Hiddleston!!


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