The third installment of John Flanagan’s The Ranger’s Apprentice series, The Icebound Land continues the story of Evelyn and Will’s journey to Skandia. Along the way, they are forced to hunker down on an island outpost with their Skandian captors. While they are treated fairly well, they know that they face life as a slave unless someone comes to rescue them. Of course, this being a coming-of-age story, there is someone who is coming to rescue them. Halt and Horace are fighting their way through Gallica. Apparently this country is overrun with war lords and this becomes their obstacle to reaching Skandia sooner.
This is definitely a middle book. It starts exactly where the last one left off and there’s absolutely no resolution to anything. It reminds me a lot of Saga of Fire and Ice. The story feels like it’s splintering into several different related, but separate plot points. I’m starting to think the author writes the books in pairs, keeping the overall storyline in mind for the series. The story is engrossing, but there’s definitely a sense that there’s no rush to develop anything or bring anything to a close. That was a let down. I don’t like feeling like what I’m reading doesn’t have a purpose towards drawing the characters into fetcher conflict, development, or the conclusion of the story. The one bright side of this book was the fact that Evelyn takes charge while Will is in his drug stupor. She shows that women are courageous, resourceful, brave, and ingenious without acting like men. She keeps her own identity without sacrificing who she is for any of the male characters. It’s a good lesson for the obvious young male audience for this series.