Ice Queen: Book Two of Odd Tangle-Hair’s Saga

Written by Bruce Macbain
Review by Justin Lindsay

Odd Tangle-Hair, exiled Icelander and skald to Harald, renegade prince of Norway, is deeply enmeshed in the politics and personalities of Novgorod. To further entangle his situation, he is torn between Harald himself and Harald’s sworn enemy, Ingigerd, Princess of Novgorod. His situation only worsens when a Pecheneg army captures Kiev, and Odd must use every scrap of his wit and daring to reclaim it for the Rus. The aftermath of this bloody battle only finds him in worse straits. How can he reconcile himself to the woman who shares his bed and the man who holds his fealty?

Ice Queen is the second installment of the Odd Tangle-Hair Saga. The first book, Odin’s Child, was a pleasure to read, full of longships and Vikings. This second one, though, has far less Viking in it. Odd spends the first quarter of the book mostly observing the goings-on at the Novgorod court, though when the story finally heats up, it does so quickly, and we have Odd at the center of the goings-on. Macbain is such a talented writer, and his characters are so compelling, that I’m quick to forgive some of the lulls in the novel’s pacing, most of which can be chalked up to the constraints imposed by true history on historical fiction writers. Odd’s world, and that of the lands of the Rus, feels alive and vibrant, and I look forward to the next episode of Tangle-Hair’s saga.