A huge (in every way) disappointment, this bloated sequel to Cry of the Icemark (2005) bogs down a tale terrific at its core in a mire of uninspired subplots, unnecessary explanations and predictable set pieces. Twenty years later, crazed general Scipio Bellorum is again massing troops to invade the chilly Icemark. Suspecting that not even her nonhuman allies will be enough to turn the tide this time, Queen Thirrin sends Charlemagne, youngest of her five children, overseas to safety
but “Sharley” has other ideas, and even though hobbled by both polio and adolescent lack of confidence, he embarks on a quest to find new allies. Watching him grow, mature and meet new (if not particularly original) peoples provides the same fascination that his mother's similar journey supplied in the previous episode. Compelled to give nearly every character a point of view, though,
Hill keeps putting Sharley's part on hold while cycling tediously through an unwieldy Icemark cast.
Eventually the foes all come together, Sharley charges in with dark-skinned armies from “Arifica”
mounted on horses and zebras, the cardboard villains are washed away in fountains of blood and
Sharley's truly bad-apple witch sister Medea is dispatched to another dimensiondoubtless to await the next sequel. Some good parts, but not enough to meet expectations. (Fantasy. 11-13)