fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsFrostborn by Lou Anders children's fantasy book reviews middle gradeFrostborn by Lou Anders

Editor, publisher, and essayist Lou Anders’ debut novel is a sweet Middle Grade story inspired by Norse legends. Frostborn, the first in a series, has two likeable heroines. The first is Karn, the son of a prosperous farmer who’s head of their clan. Karn is his father’s heir, which secretly infuriates Karn’s uncle, a twin who is only a few seconds younger than Karn’s father. However, Karn isn’t interested in running the family farm and being clan chief. He spends his time playing a strategy board game called Thrones & Bones and he’d like to have some adventures before settling down. Karn’s uncle would be thrilled if Karn would leave home, but his father is determined to make Karn a worthy successor. When the uncle tries to take Karn out of the picture, Karn is forced to flee.

Our second hero is Thianna, the daughter of a frost giant and a human woman. Because of her mixed heritage, Thianna is small for a giantess (but still bigger than humans) and is mercilessly teased by her peers. Thianna ’s mother met the frost giants when they sheltered her when she was on the run from wyvern-riding warriors. She died after Thianna was born and now those warriors have come looking for Thianna because they think she has something they want. She makes a daring escape.

That’s how Karn and Thianna end up on the run together. They make a good team. The giantess is big and she knows how to fight. Karn isn’t very physical, but his wits have been honed by all the time spent playing Thrones & Bones. He can often talk his way out of a dangerous situation, which can be pretty funny sometimes. The kids complement each other and together they face two-headed trolls, a dragon, wyverns, a draug, and an undead warrior named Helltoppr. They travel through a winter landscape that features high cliffs, freezing river rapids, avalanches, blasted cities, and dead forests. There’s a wonderful chase scene in a crumbling coliseum. When the action slows down, Karn and Thianna entertain us with a bit of banter. Lou Anders perfectly balances the terror, humor, excitement, and emotion. Both kids mature as they discover inner strengths they didn’t know they had.

As Karn and Thianna start to figure out what’s happening to them, they realize that not only are they and their families in danger, but so is the realm they live in. Their clans are isolated from the outside world, and this is the first time they sense that their lifestyles, and probably their lives, are being threatened. Anders doesn’t give us the details, but hints at evil goings-on in the wider world. Whatever Thianna’s mother had seems to be the key. Frostborn ends at a satisfactory stopping place, but it’s obvious that the story will go on.

Middle Grade readers are sure to love Frostborn and, as an adult, I liked it, too. It’s an exciting fantasy adventure and I’m looking forward to the next THRONES & BONES novel. I listened to Listening Library’s audio version which is 8½ hours long and narrated by Fabio Tassone, a European actor. He gave a great performance. I’ll definitely choose this format for the sequel.

Publication Date: August 5, 2014 | Age Level: 8 – 12 | Grade Level: 3 – 7. Fantasy fans of Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson and John Flanagan’s Ranger’s Apprentice series will embrace this first novel in an adventure-filled, Viking-inspired series by a debut author. Meet Karn. He is destined to take over the family farm in Norrøngard. His only problem? He’d rather be playing the board game Thrones and Bones. Enter Thianna. Half human, half frost giantess. She’s too tall to blend in with other humans but too short to be taken seriously as a giant. When family intrigues force Karn and Thianna to flee into the wilderness, they have to keep their sense of humor and their wits about them. But survival can be challenging when you’re being chased by a 1,500-year-old dragon, Helltoppr the undead warrior and his undead minions, an evil uncle, wyverns, and an assortment of trolls and giants. Readers will embark on a sweeping epic fantasy as they join Karn and Thianna on a voyage of discovery. Antics and hair-raising escapades abound in this fantasy adventure as the two forge a friendship and journey to unknown territory. Their plan: to save their families from harm. Debut novelist Lou Anders has created a rich world of over twenty-five countries inhabited by Karn, Thianna, and an array of fantastical creatures, as well as the Thrones and Bones board game.


  • Kat Hooper

    KAT HOOPER, who started this site in June 2007, earned a Ph.D. in neuroscience and psychology at Indiana University (Bloomington) and now teaches and conducts brain research at the University of North Florida. When she reads fiction, she wants to encounter new ideas and lots of imagination. She wants to view the world in a different way. She wants to have her mind blown. She loves beautiful language and has no patience for dull prose, vapid romance, or cheesy dialogue. She prefers complex characterization, intriguing plots, and plenty of action. Favorite authors are Jack Vance, Robin Hobb, Kage Baker, William Gibson, Gene Wolfe, Richard Matheson, and C.S. Lewis.

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