The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

The three novels of the Winter of the World trilogy follow a classic trilogy format, tracing the actions of a hero and his associates in their attempt to defeat a world-threatening enemy. The enemy, in this case, is the Ice, the world-girdling glaciers of the most recent ice age. In the world of the Winter, the Ice itself is the tool of inimical deific powers, most notably the goddess Taounehtar. Humans have fled before its slow advance, abandoning the ancient kingdom of Kerys in Europe and founding Morvan in what is now the eastern United States, only to have to flee again to found Kerbryhaine on the West Coast.

The Anvil of Ice introduces Alf, a mistreated, parentless shepherd boy whose village is destroyed by the Ekwesh, a nation of barbaric warriors who raid the coast from their empire in northern Asia. Saved from the massacre by Mylio, a Mastersmith who used his powers to aid the Ekwesh, Alf becomes Mylio’s apprentice. For apprentice pieces, he fashions three items that later prove important: an armring, a helm, and a sword. The armring he gives to Kara, the servant of a powerful woman named Louhi, who is an ally of Mylio. The helm, which grants the wearer shape-shifting and traveling abilities, Mylio gives to Louhi, while keeping for himself the sword, which attacks the minds of those against whom it is brandished.

Alf discovers that Mylio is in league with the Ice and flees, along with Roc, another apprentice. He is determined to undo the damage he has done in forging the items. After parting ways with Roc and adopting the adult name of Elof, he encounters Kermorvan, a Kerbryhainian privateer who has been attacking the Ekwesh. Together they seek out the Duergar, a reclusive underground race reputed to be unparalleled in smithcraft. Elof apprentices to the Duergar, eventually befriending Ils, a Duergar woman. Elof, Kermorvan, and Ils leave the Duergar tunnels to find that Kerbryhaine has been besieged by Mylio, who is using the mindsword to devastate the city’s defenders. Elof battles and defeats Mylio, saving the city and...

(The entire section is 843 words.)