(Cover picture courtesy of Guerrilla Wordfare.)
Born with mark [sic] of the Mighty Hunter, Markus saves his village from the brink of starvation—for whenever he releases an arrow, his aim is true. But despite his skill and strength, Markus is unable to confront his tyrannical father. Shamed by his cowardice, he distracts himself by needlessly shooting the forest creatures.
When Markus takes no heed of the village prophet’s warning that his actions will attract The Hunter’s Curse—for every animal Markus kills, his loved ones will suffer the same fate—the Sky Goddess unleashes her ice dragon. Now, Markus must flee the dragon without killing it…or his beloved brother will be the next to die.
[Full disclosure: Tara West sent me a free print copy of her novel in return for an honest review.]
When I started Curse of the Ice Dragon, I was expecting the plot to follow the traditional Hero’s Quest format. That’s not an altogether unreasonable assumption in most of the high fantasy I read. Yet my assumption was proved wrong! In some ways it did follow the Hero’s Quest format, but I absolutely love the unique spins Tara West put on old clichés to make the plot exciting and at times unpredictable.
To be perfectly honest, I hated Markus at first. He was cruel, selfish and completely unsympathetic, but that didn’t last for long. Markus goes on quite the character arc and by the end of the novel, he’s a completely new person and I’m looking forward to seeing how he changes throughout the rest of the series. He’s not the only character that stood out, though. All of the characters were three dimensional and had realistic motivations, but Ura particularly stood out for me. She’s concerned about her brother who left to go topside while at the same time must ward off Bane’s advances and keep her father company. Ura is definitely not your typical fantasy heroine and her character arc is just as interesting as Markus’, if not more.
I was rather skeptical about the world-building because it seemed like a typical fantasy world based on Norse mythology. Things couldn’t have been more far from the truth, which was yet another pleasant surprise. Readers will recognize a few typical fantasy elements, but Tara West never strays into the realm of hopelessly cliché. There are so many new things and such an exciting plot that you won’t be able to put Curse of the Ice Dragon down. Personally, I can’t wait for the next book.
I give this book 5/5 stars.