It is a dark time. For decades Hakon the Black, the most feared Norse Lord of the ninth century, has conducted bloody and gruesome raids throughout Europe, and laid his claim upon the seas. But it is also a time of hope.
In the frozen wastelands of the north, Vidar searches for the Vestibule of Light. Alone, freezing and exhausted, he pushes on through the endless winter in the belief that once his quest is complete, he may return to the life he has left behind, and to Niclaus, the son he was forced to abandon. For Niclaus has a greater destiny – one foretold by Cado, the enigmatic Small Walker – and Vidar is but one player in the boy’s life. Cado has enlisted the help of protectors from all corners of the Earth to shield Niclaus: men whose worlds are connected by only the loosest of threads.
But as Niclaus becomes older, and the various worlds begin to converge, will Vidar and Cado have to make sacrifices beyond imagining to protect those they love.
I struggled with this book in the very beginning. I didn’t know it was going have a shifting timeline (one of my book turn-offs on this week’s TTT!) and it took me a lot to focus on it and figure out what it was actually going to be about. But how glad am I that I stuck it out? VERY, that’s how glad.
The Polaris Whisper spans from around 800 to 840 AD, so it’s not a huge shift between time per chapter, but it still took me a while to get used to it. It is also a book with many characters and story strands, but once they all started coming together I had to keep reading to find out how it was going to pan out.
There’s the two monks of Ceanannus Mór in 802 AD who start off as BFFs but a strain is put on their relationship when Tomás meets mysterious ‘Small Walker’ Cado and begins working with him on a secret project. And then around 830 there’s Vidar who gave up his son Niclaus to fulfill a quest to find the Cave of Light not knowing whether he will return. And in 840 AD Niclaus and his friends prepare for ‘The Trial’, an almighty 3 day race over perilous snow and frozen lakes in which the winner will be named as Ugter – the new village leader.
It doesn’t really sound all that exciting does it? But it is! With gory Ice Bear and Wolf attacks, the mounting unease between the small walkers and tall walkers, a cute little romance, viking raids and the imposing Norse Lord Hakon – once I got into The Polaris Whisper I was hooked.
The setting didn’t hurt either. Descriptions of the Fjords and the frozen wastelands were both harsh and beautiful and I found the writing throughout pretty much perfect.
I was particularly interested to know more about Vidar and his quest and couldn’t wait to get back to him every time it wasn’t his chapter. The Vestibule he was looking for was drenched in mystery and magic and I was urging him on to find it each time.
I also loved Cado, the Small Walker. He was definitely the glue in this story, eventually tying all of the characters together. He was also the main source of intrigue and excitement as we learn more about him and the secret magical powers he yields.
In the end, this book was a lot different to what I was expecting. I expected more of the Norse mythology in there for sure, but the direction it actually went in was welcome too.
And, I can’t talk about it because this is a spoiler-free zone but THE ENDING. There is a proper twist/revelation at the end which is amazing. I’m not sure how I didn’t see it coming, but I didn’t…I literally had my mouth open for quite some time, actually it still is a little bit. Not attractive. Please tell me there’s more???
I think this will be a favourite Winter Read of mine for some time. Wolves, Racing Sleighs, Reindeer…what’s not to like!?
Disclosure: I received a copy from the author/publisher for an HONEST review via NetGalley. Many thanks!
Details: Paperback, 457 pages, published September 25th 2013 by Blackstaff Press Ltd
Unicorn Rating: 4/5
Is it a keeper? YES! I will be buying a physical copy ASAP!
If you like this try: Game of Thrones!?