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Thirrin Freer Strong-in-the-Arm Lindenshield carried her names with ease. She was thirteen years old, tall for her age, and could ride her horse as well as the best of her father's soldiers. She was also heir to the throne of the Icemark. Her tutor might add that she was attentive when she wanted to be, clever when she bothered to try, and had her father's temper. Few compared her to her mother, who had died when Thirrin was born. But those who remembered the proud young woman of the fierce Hypolitan people said that Thirrin was her double.
The soldier riding guard over her didn't care about any of this. They'd been hunting in the forest since dawn and he was cold and tired, but Thirrin showed no signs of wanting to go home. They were following a set of tracks she insisted were werewolf prints, and the soldier was afraid she might be right. He'd already eased the spears in his scabbard and had been riding with his shield on his arm for the past hour.
Werewolves had been banished from the Icemark after the Ghost Wars, in which Thirrin's father, King Redrought, had defeated the army of the Vampire King and Queen at the Battle of the Wolfrocks. Probably the werewolf she was tracking was just a loner in search of easy hunting in the cattle pastures, but you could never be too careful. With any luck she could capture it, she thought, and take it back to the city as a prize. And perhaps before it was executed it could be made to give useful information about The-Land-of-the-Ghosts.
"Listen!" Thirrin said urgently, waking from a pleasant daydream about winning her father's respect and gratitude. "Just ahead -- I can hear snarling!"
The soldier took her word for it and leveled his spear. "Pull in behind me," he said, forgetting all formality in the moment of danger.
But before they could move, the thick undergrowth that lined the path burst open and a huge animal leaped out. It was vaguely man-shaped but extremely hairy, and its face was a strange mixture of wolf and human. For a moment it stared at them, its eyes full of hate, then it charged. It easily dodged the soldier's clumsy thrust and headed straight for Thirrin, but her horse was battle-trained and it leaped forward to meet the attack, lashing out with its steel-shod hooves.
Taken by surprise, the werewolf took the full force of the kick, but it only staggered back for a second before growling with fury and attacking again. By this time, Thirrin had drawn her long cavalry saber and, in one fluid movement, she wheeled her horse around, leaned from the saddle, and hacked deeply into the werewolf's arm. The soldier had recovered by now and he charged, knocking the werewolf off its feet. Before it could get up, both horses drew in shoulder to shoulder, snorting fiercely and lashing out with their hooves. The creature scrambled to its feet and retreated into the thick undergrowth where the horses couldn't follow. For a moment it licked at its wounds with a long red tongue, then it emerged from the thorny bush and without warning threw itself at Thirrin's horse, knocking her from the saddle. Her charger blundered away, screaming in terror, and she lay on the path dazed and badly winded. She seemed to be watching a silent and tiny picture of the world from a point high above the action. She was dizzily aware that there was danger of some sort, but what it was exactly she couldn't quite remember. She watched as a soldier attacked a huge wolfman, but the creature broke his spear and the soldier's horse reared and galloped away as he clung on desperately. Now the wolfman was turning back and walking slowly toward her.
Reality crashed back. The world filled her head to the brim again and with a start she remembered where she was. The werewolf was approaching with slow, deliberate steps as though it was enjoying the moment just before the kill, like a cat with a helpless mouse within easy reach.
Her sword lay close by and, grabbing it, she leaped to her feet. The creature stopped and drew back its lips over enormous teeth, almost as though it were grinning. Thirrin didn't hesitate; shouting the war cry of the House of Lindenshield, she attacked.
Before it could react, her blade bit deeply into its shoulder and it fell back, surprised by her ferocity. But then her boots slipped on wet leaves, and she crashed to the ground. Immediately the creature pounced and, wrenching her sword away, it sat astride her, its massive weight crushing the breath out of her lungs. Thirrin's fighting spirit still roared within her, though, and as the creature lowered its jaws toward her throat, she punched it hard on the nose. The werewolf shook its head and sneezed, taken completely aback.
"Make it quick, wolfman, and make sure all the wounds are in front. I don't want anyone saying I died running away," she yelled, managing to keep the terror out of her voice.
The creature lowered its head toward her face again, but this time its eyes were filled with an almost human expression of puzzlement. It stayed like that for nearly a minute, seeming to scrutinize her. Then, without warning, it threw back its head and howled, its voice climbing to a high chilling note before falling slowly away to silence. It looked at her again, its eyes so human that Thirrin felt she could almost talk to it. Suddenly it leaped away, leaving her to gasp for breath, its enormous weight gone.
Slowly she struggled to a sitting position and watched as the werewolf picked up her sword and drove it point-first into the thick forest litter. Then it did something that amazed her: The huge creature bowed, folding one of its arms across its torso while the other swept out before it in a delicate gesture, like the most fashionable of courtiers.
Despite everything, Thirrin almost giggled. The werewolf threw back its head again and a rough coughing and growling noise burst from its mouth, as though it were laughing. Then it ran off through the trees, leaving nothing behind but shaking branches.
Thirrin climbed to her feet and collected her sword. She was trembling with shock, but fascinated. Why didn't the werewolf kill her? Could such creatures think and make decisions? And if so, did this one actually decide to let her live?
She was astounded. Everything she'd ever been told and all of her beliefs and ideas about the Wolf-folk were shaken by this. She'd always thought they were mindless killers, as unthinking as any other primitive and evil creature from beyond the Icemark's northern borders, and yet the wolfman had shown...what? Compassion, perhaps?
A crashing and thrashing in the trees interrupted her thoughts, and she leveled her sword, ready for a renewed attack. But it was only her soldier escort. He'd regained control of his bolting horse and had come charging back, ready to die in her defense. Better that than die as a punishment for not carrying out his duty properly.
Thirrin had to endure almost ten minutes of him checking her over for injuries and a long and detailed explanation of how he'd had no chance of controlling his horse when it bolted. But at last she was allowed to mount his horse, and they started the slow journey home. She thought through everything that had happened. Could she really just reject all she'd ever accepted as true about werewolves? As she continued her journey home, her quick mind continued to puzzle through the amazing possibility that the Wolf-folk were thinking, even feeling, creatures.
After a few minutes of Thirrin riding pillion, her own horse reappeared out of the trees, whinnying with relief to see them.
"Some help you were," Thirrin said grumpily. "I should have let the wolfman have you."
They took the most direct route homeward, and eventually the dense tangle of trees opened up into small clearings and woodcutters' camps as they reached the eaves of the forest. Then the trees gave way completely and the land stretched out before them. They reined to a halt and stared out over the wide plain that surrounded Frostmarris, the capital of the Icemark. The land was a patchwork of hedgerows and fields, orchards and gardens, all green and fertile in the country's short summer, while directly ahead the city rose out of the surrounding farmland like a huge stone ship in a sea of golden wheat.
Each of its massive gates faced the direction of each of the four winds, and over the south gate hung the huge Solstice Bell, its polished bronze gleaming in the bright sunshine, seeming to beckon Thirrin and her escort home. At the center of the settlement, she could see her father's fortress dominating the streets from its position high on the hill. The royal banner of a fighting white bear on a blue background was clearly visible as a cool breeze stretched it flat and snapping in the air, as though it were leading a charge of King Redrought's cavalry.
Thirrin spurred her horse on, already recovering from the shock of the battle and anxious to tell her father about the wolfman. They thundered across the plain, raising a cloud of dust on the summer-dry roads, and soon she and her soldier escort were riding through the gates of the city and up the main street. It was market day, and country people from the surrounding villages and farms lined the way with their stalls, selling everything from vegetables and cheeses to eggs and newly slaughtered meat. It was hot, and swarms of flies had been drawn to the blood and offal, making Thirrin's horse skittish so that it snorted and sidled as they moved slowly through the crowds.
"Make way for the Princess!" her escort shouted, spurring ahead and using his horse to force people aside. Unused to seeing royalty, some of the country folk who rarely came to the city stared as Thirrin rode by. Some even pressed forward to touch the hem of her tunic or her riding boots, as if she were a holy relic of some sort. This embarrassed her deeply, and she immediately unslung her shield and rode along with it on her arm, hiding behind the mask of her status.
"It's the Princess! It's the Princess!" The whisper ran ahead of her through the crowd of country people. Thirrin found herself wishing she'd worn her helmet and not just the simple iron cap she usually wore for hunting. At least in her war gear she had a noseguard that hid part of her face. She could only hope the crowd of bumpkins thought her blushes were simply the high color of a warrior.
At last she reached the outer gates of the upper city, and the guards on duty barred the way, as required. "Who seeks entry to the King's presence?" the soldiers demanded formally. Thirrin stared at them in silent pride and waited for her escort to answer for her.
"His daughter and heir, Princess Thirrin Freer Strong-in-the-Arm Lindenshield."
The guards snapped to attention, and Thirrin rode through into the castle. As soon as she'd crossed the wide courtyard, she dismounted and left the reins of her horse trailing on the ground, knowing that a groom would run to collect the animal. Then she strode into the Great Hall of her father's fortress.
Just inside the yawning archway of the doors, she paused for a moment to let her eyes grow accustomed to the dim light. Slowly the battered shields of long-dead housecarls -- the army's professional soldiers -- and the banners of old wars emerged from the gloom, and she once again strode forward.
Before her, the flagstone floor seemed to stretch away forever into the shadows, but here and there small islands of light pooled onto the age-scarred stones as sunshine lanced down from smoke vents high in the roof. At the far end of the hall she could make out the raised dais, where a throne of black oak stood. Its arms had been carved to represent the forelegs of a bear, and its feet into those of a dragon. And above it hung the battle standard of the Icemark: a standing polar bear, lips drawn back in a vicious snarl and claws outstretched. This very standard had been carried by Thirrin's father when the army of the Vampire King and Queen had finally been defeated at the Battle of the Wolfrocks.
Nobody was sitting on the throne, and when Thirrin reached the dais, she quickly walked behind it and ducked her head to enter a low doorway. Beyond it lay a small, cozy room where King Redrought Strong-in-the-Arm Lindenshield, Bear of the North, mighty warrior and wise monarch, was soaking his feet in a wide basin of water. He was leaning back in a chair stuffed with plump cushions and his eyes were closed. But Thirrin knew he was awake because he wasn't snoring and a small, wizened man had just finished his move in a game of chess.
"You're cheating again, Grimswald!" the King's voice snapped.
"Oh, was I? I'm sure I didn't mean to. I must have made a mistake. I'll put the bishop back, shall I?" the little old man answered in a reedy voice.
Redrought opened a bloodshot eye and glared at Grimswald. "Yes, I'll put the bishop back," the little old man concluded. At this point the King noticed his daughter. "Ah, Thirrin! Come in, come in! Just top up the basin, will you? My corns are really bad today." He nodded to a kettle steaming gently on a woodstove, and Thirrin dutifully crossed the room, picked it up, and poured the hot water into the basin.
"Put some cold in first!" Redrought bellowed, snatching his feet from the water and sloshing much of it across the floor.
"Sorry," Thirrin said meekly, and mixed hot and cold water in a large pitcher before pouring it into the foot basin. "Ah, that's better!" Redrought boomed again. In fact, the King only ever seemed to bellow, boom, or shout, no matter what his mood. But nobody seemed to mind too much; at least he never had to repeat himself.
As he settled back into his cushions, Thirrin noticed that his huge red beard-which spread across his chest like a fire in a mountain forest-had started to swing and swirl, and she watched in fascination as a small tabby head appeared and blinked at her.
"Ah, Primplepuss, there you are!" the King cried, seizing the kitten in his huge war-callused hands. "I knew I'd seen you earlier. I must remember to comb out my beard before I go to bed. I don't want to squash you, do I?"
Primplepuss gave a tiny mew in reply, and Redrought watched her fondly as she proceeded to wash a paw.
"Father, I have some important news," Thirrin said when she thought she could drag his attention away from the kitten.
"Well, it must be important, Grimswald," King Redrought said to the old man. "She only ever calls me 'Father' when she's done something wrong or a disaster's at hand."
"I've done nothing wrong, Father."
"Then what's happened?"
"I fought a werewolf in the forest this morning."
"A werewolf, eh? You're not hurt, are you?" he asked, grabbing her arms and looking her over closely. She shook her head and, after a few more minutes of careful scrutiny, he nodded his head and went on. "Well, we can't have the Wolf-folk making themselves at home, now can we? Exactly where did you see it? And did you kill it?"
"Just beyond Peninsula Point, near the Black Peak, and no, I didn't kill it. It was only wounded in its left shoulder and upper arm, and it was pretty kicked around by the horses."
"Nothing to a werewolf. I'll have to send out a patrol."
"Yes!" Thirrin agreed, looking up, her eyes alight. "But first I want to ask you something, Dad." She paused as she gathered her thoughts. "Can...can werewolves feel and think? I mean like people do. And can they...understand that we have...oh, I don't know, thoughts and feelings and lives to live?"
Redrought fell silent as he thought this through. He'd spent most of his life fighting the Wolf-folk and other creatures from beyond his northern borders. He'd had neither the time nor the inclination to wonder if they thought about anything. But he was a good king, and shrewd enough to know that something important lay behind his daughter's questions. "Why do you ask? What's happened?"
Thirrin took a deep breath. "The werewolf could have killed me today, but it didn't. It disarmed me and could have ripped out my throat. But when I punched it in the nose and told it to make it quick, it stopped and let me go. It even stuck my sword in the ground and left it for me to collect. And I don't understand why. If Wolf-folk can't feel and think, why did it let me live?"
Redrought didn't know, and at that moment he didn't care. He just felt an enormous sense of relief sweep over him. Suddenly he gathered his daughter in a bearlike hug that made her gasp for breath almost as much as the wolfman had when it sat on her. "You will not take such risks again! Do you hear me?" he roared, his anger fueled by the terrible realization that his daughter could so easily have been killed.
"But, Dad, I didn't take any risks. Werewolves don't usually come into the forest. How could I have known it was going to be there?"
Redrought knew this was true, but it didn't make him feel any better. He released her from the hug and sat down again heavily. "I'll send out a full patrol immediately."
"And I want to lead it."
"Oh no, young Madam. My daughter and heir will stay safely here in the castle. Let some other hotheads earn their spurs," Redrought said decisively.
"But they'll need me to guide them to the right spot. Nobody else knows the way."
"Apart from your soldier escort," the King said, a hint of triumph in his tone.
"Apart from my soldier escort," Thirrin was forced to agree reluctantly.
"Good! Grimswald, call in the captain of the guard. You can give him details, Thirrin, and then run along to your tutor. Geography today, if I'm not mistaken."
Grimswald piped at the door for the guard, who arrived in a clatter of armor.
"Captain Edwald. The Princess reports a werewolf close to the city. Take details and send out a patrol!" the King boomed, stroking Primplepuss gently. The kitten screwed her eyes shut against the huge blast of Redrought's voice, then as Thirrin and the captain withdrew to confer, she rubbed her tabby face against the King's enormous finger as it tickled her cheek.
Posted November 7, 2007
The Cry of the Icemark is a fantasy book by Stuart Hill. The Cry of the Icemark is a great book that keeps you interested until the very last page. It is full of adventure. The book takes place in a kingdom called Icemark during an unknown time period. Thirrin, the princess of Icemark, is forced to become queen when she is 14, after her father dies in battle. Thirrin has to save her kingdom from the Empire by winning the war. She makes many allies, which include the wolf-folk, snow leopards and vampires. She also makes friends with a healer named Oskan. Throughout the book she is helped by Maggie, her tutor, who helps her defeat the cleverest general in the world. Stuart Hill uses difficult vocabulary and adds many details that help create an image in your mind while you are reading the book. He tells the story in third person. If you like fantasy and adventure this book is right for you. While reading the book you will feel exactly what the main character is feeling. The Cry of the Icemark is a book that will make you never want to put it down.
4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 28, 2011
This book is by far one of the best books i have ever read and i read a lot! The charactors are well developed in a way that lets you really connect with them. At times i nearly cried. The plot was original, exciting, and really well written. This is a must read!
2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
There are very few words that could do this book the justice that it deserves. It is so amazing in the detail, acuracy, and characters that it keeps you from putting the book down. The plot is amazing and is descibed so that you can picture it in your head. It uses some real life facts, which just helps to make the book more believable and enjoyable. The plot is perfect, and uses a lot of action and suspense. There is some drama and humor thrown into the mix, which just help to make the book more perfect. It is easy to read, maybe a little hard in parts, but s great overall. It is agrat first book to an amazing series. I suggest you read this book.
1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 14, 2014
In elementary school they had this book fair and this book was there so I convinced my mom to buy me it. I was rather young and that was quite a long time ago but I do know that I really enjoyed the book. I'm going to buy it again and re-read it since I lost it from so long ago. I really recommend this book.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 3, 2014
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Posted April 4, 2013
Posted March 27, 2013
Please don't listen to everyone saying that the books to predictable or its not posible to do this. Some people don't understand what it means to just read a book! I will admit the star was slow, but once you got into it, you felt totaly envoled. I loved the main chacracter, she's really inspiering. Totaly for young people or girls. You will totaly love the main characters attitude and all of her funny outragestly awesome sidkicks that made me laugh the whole way though. I loved this book and whouldn't let anyone tell me it wasn't good. Bcause that wouldn't be true. This book is amazing.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 20, 2013
Posted November 29, 2012
This is the kind of book that takes on an interesting journey with fascinating characters. Thirrin and Oskan are brilliantlly written and thought out. It's got adventure, drama, humor, and even the war scenes aren't too graphic or anything. The rest of the series is just as good as this one.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 6, 2012
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Posted June 4, 2012
I have been pestering B&N to put this book into ebook format for quite some time now, and apparently so have a few others. This book is absolutely amazing and I am estatic that they actually listened. The rest of the series is just as good as the first and I definitely recommend reading the other 2 as well.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 11, 2012
Posted November 2, 2011
Don't let the corny artwork on the cover fool you, this book is outta sight!!! This series is my favorite series in the entire world. I've reread the books more times that I can count. Wonderful storyline and setting. Stuart Hill uses fantasy creatures and situations that no one else does. He creates these creatures with incredible details and gives them personalities, cultures, and morals. The Vampires are not just blood sucking parasites but they are creatures of elegantly dark and cold ruthlessness. The Snow Leopards are highly intelligent, ferocious warriors with beautiful personalities and a wry sense of humor. Thirrin is a warrior queen who will rally you her to her cause the moment she screams out her war cry of "Blood, Blast, and Fire" and you'll immediately lose your heart over Oskan, her young yet powerful warlock advisor. There are so many twists and turns in the plot and so many glorious details that the moment you out this book down you'll be racing to the store to buy the sequel!!!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 27, 2011
When I read the overveiw for this book I thought it was going to be more of a magic type book. It turned out to be more like a war book with some magic in it. It was still a good book, not too gory or anything, but I was expecting different.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 12, 2011
I have yet to read a book that draws me in from chapter one as this one did - I am still trying to find a book as enjoyable. Although the main character does not act how I would the entire time, she is very easy to empathize with. The allusions to kingdoms past of our world is incredible, and the details used to create the story is enough to create a visual and still leaving wiggle-room for the individual reader. The author does a fantastic job with this book, and I can honestly say I was NOT bored through any of the four hundred or so pages. This original novel is without a doubt worth every penny!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 21, 2011
The story is original, and you can see where the author was trying to go with it, but it is poorly written. Personally, I find it very distracting to read a book that isn't constructed well. The flow is choppy, and I spent the whole time checking to see how many pages I had left to go. Reading it was a chore.
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Posted December 23, 2009
If you like Lord of the Rings and/or Chronicles of Narnia then The Cry of the Icemark should be next on your list! Hill has created a story that is reminiscent of the aforementioned, however keeps an original storyline. The detailed descriptions paints a picture like you're watching a movie instead of reading about it. The characters are endearing and you come to feel like you know them each personally. A superb read! It's a long read but it never feels like things are dragging. The pace is nicely set. I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys action, friendships, war, and strong heroines. I rated this 5 stars but its probably more of a 4.5 stars!
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Posted November 22, 2009
this is one of those books that when you finnaly read it you think why did it take me so long? anyway this book is full of intreage and danger and dangerouse, daring escapades. this book even has a teansy amount of romance. however if your not good at withstanding long descriptions you should not read this book. but you should because the descriptions help the story. this book is full of magic creatures and fatastic fictional doings. this is about a tiny kingdom that is fearce in its defence but still nobody expects them to survive the coming war. so their ruler realizes they nead allys so she gos and tries to make some. will she succede? will they suvive? and will they still have their freedom after the war? find out in this exceptional story.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.