Giants of the Frost
(Gollancz, £6.99, 435 pages, paperback, first published 2005,
this edition published 13 October 2005.)
Victoria Scott, a scientist on the rebound from a broken relationship,
takes a job at a remote weather station in the Norwegian Sea. The hours
are long, the landscape outside bleak and the weather foul, and soon
Victoria is accepted as one of the crew, part of the complex networks
of friendships and relationships at the station. But something stirs
outside and Victoria soon begins to see visions...
Giants of the Forest is the second of the three-book Europa
Suite, three fantasies that draw on European legends and mythology.
The first book was The Autumn
Castle, reviewed by me here, and the third will be the Russian-set
Rosa and the Veil of Gold, published in 2005 in Australia and
due out from Gollancz in the UK in March 2007.
As with her earlier novels, Giants of the Frost has two plotlines
with different narrative methods. In between Victoria's first-person
account we have a third-person narrative set mostly in Asgard, the home
of the Norse Gods. Vidar, son of Odin, loved a woman who was murdered
by his father, and has waited a thousand years for her to be reincarnated.
Could Victoria be that woman?
A novel where about half of the characters are preternatural beings
(gods, in fact) is a tricky one to write for anyone, particularly in
characterisation: too much humanisation of them is an open invitation
to bathos. It's a delicate balance and one that Wilkins doesn't quite
manage: the lengthy Asgard sections tend to mark time between Victoria's
account here on Midgard, which I found more compelling. If the novel
is a little disappointing compared to The Autumn Castle and its
predecessor Angel of Ruin (retitled Fallen Angel for the
UK), there are compensations. Wilkins is good with a sense of place
and the station crew are deftly characterised. The novel is generally
well paced, with some tense moments that reflect Wilkins's beginnings
in the horror genre. Also, she doesn't back away from a surprisingly
downbeat ending. At least in this version, which is identical to the
Australian edition, she doesn't: the US edition has a rewritten ending.
Elsewhere in infinity plus: