The Ice Dragon
by George R.R. Martin
Review by Colleen Cahill
Starscape Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 0765316315
Date: 03 October, 2006 List Price $12.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Adara is a winter child, born during the worst freeze anyone can remember. That cold stole the life of Adara’s mother and touched the child in unusual ways. Unlike her sunny sister Teri or her inquisitive brother Geoff, Adara is a solemn child, never crying, but never laughing either. Her smiles are a rare thing and are mostly seen in winter, her favorite time of the year. Adara is never too cold to play outdoors for hours and she can even pick up the tiny ice lizards which would melt the in the hands of the other children. If winter is her delight, summer is a low point for Adara, and she does not like anything associated with it, including her Uncle Hal, who is a dragonrider for the King. Even though he brings wondrous gifts and tells tales of dragons, he is still another reminder that winter was far away. This dislike might be Adara’s strongest emotion, for as her father explains to Hal, he loves his little winter child, but she does not love her family or anyone. She is a cold little girl.
There is one being Adara does love and that is the ice dragon. Its appearance strikes fear in the village as a sighting means a hard winter, but to Adara it is the most beautiful creature of all. By her fifth winter, Adara has made friends with the ice dragon and begins to ride it. It is glorious to fly through the sky and Adara enjoys several flights each winter before Spring sends the dragon north. In the summer of her seventh year, Hal brings word that the war is going badly and enemy forces are headed toward the village. Adara’s father has resisted all pleas to move away, even though this could mean the destruction of all he loves. Adara has already made up her mind: if her family heads south, she will go live with the ice dragon. The question is, will she follow through with this decision if her family is in the hands of the enemy?
Many will be reminded of Han Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen when reading The Ice Dragon. Certainly both these stories share a wintery theme, but they also have a complex plot in common. Martin does not pull his punches in this book: Adara is not a loveable child nor is her magic one that she uses for anyone but herself. In contrast is the ice dragon, who shows the true meaning of sacrifice. The book includes lovely illustrations by Yvonne Gilbert who captures the enchantment of dragons and snow. My only caution is against giving this to very young children: it is not a cosy story of amiable dragons in a happy land.
As he has done with his A Song of Ice and Fire series, Martin goes beyond the expected to bring us an extraordinary children’s tale. A must-buy for all Martin fans, this is a good book for anyone like me who loves winter and dragons.