I received an e-book of Ash Silverlock’s self published novel, White Planet, to review last month. This is the first volume of The Ice World Chronicles, a fantasy set in a science-fictional universe (as far as I can tell.)
Rygarth was once a colony world in an interstellar empire, but has been forgotten for some time. There are stories that it used to be a lush, green world, but now it is covered with ice and extremely hostile. Humans survive in camps or giant Iceholds, and there are a few other sentient species on the planet too. Now there are reports that the Cygors (or Beastmen), who slaughtered humanity in the past, have returned, and the scattered clans of Rygarth have to unite against their common enemy.
We follow several viewpoints – Gideon, a young Hunter of Icehold Tunguska who is setting out on his first hunt, Ellani, the daughter of a mysterious Shaper, Artamon, a visitor from another world with his own purpose, Wadi, the Artificer of Icehold Tunguska, and other camp chiefs and soldiers. They are all well-written and pretty distinct characters, but they are all a bit overwhelming together, especially since everyone seems to be worried about a different threat to the world, and I couldn’t tell which ones were the same. The Cygors, the Beastmen, the Aberrents, the Nemesis, the Shapers, the godless Iceholders, the Gnarl, mutants, the dark mistress. This is a lot to digest in just 50 pages.
“A lot to digest” actually summarises the main problem I have with this book – it is so short, but it seems to try and explore every science fiction and fantasy concept out there, and gives everything and everyone multiple names along the way (Cygors/Beastmen, Frost Mark/Everfrost, to name a couple.) There’s the interstellar empire, dragons, mutants, telepathic powers manifested in multiple ways, a mysterious master, a mysterious book of spells, five sentient species on this world alone, feuds between all of them, a young man coming of age, a secret that only the leadership knows about. All these avenues are explored through different means, which means there are just more and more mysteries created in every page. It’s hard to care about what happens when everything is a mystery and there doesn’t seem to be anything to tie it all together.
However, the world is pretty intriguing and the characters are interesting so I’m still going to read the next book and give the author the benefit of the doubt. I assume that there is a good overarching story that makes sense with all these plot threads. . I hope that the next book is either longer or has less viewpoints/concepts, and has some answers.
- “Oryx and Crake” by Margaret Atwood
- “Yseult” by Ruth Nestvold