“I was born on the twenty-seventh of September, 1740, because in the month of January my parents had been sealed in a wedding chamber made of ice.”
Thus begins a story of a Russian nobleman Alexander Velitzyn, the narrator of The Age of Ice.
“Only in the morning did the guards go in, to find them half dead on the ice slab of their wedding bed. Nine months later, two boys were born. My brother Andrei came first, a perfect infant. I found my way out a day later. I was smaller and paler than Andrei, and once I cleared the womb, our poor mother expired. Everyone was certain that a colorless runt like me would not see his first summer. But they were wrong. They knew nothing of ice.”
The circumstances of Alexander’s conception are as unusual, as they are historically accurate. Growing up, he will realize he is unable to fit in. He is different. Some will call him a freak, others will fall in love with him. Others yet will be compelled to perform acts of heroism because of him. Alexander’s quest to master— or at least understand — his singular nature will span four centuries and entwine many real-life historic events and characters. He will walk into the middle of a civil war to make peace with his twin brother Andrei, survive the Arctic on an expedition to chart the Northwest Passage, and trudge through the battlefields of Napoleonic wars. He will be drawn into the Great Game of espionage and conquest played by Russia and Britain in Persia and Afghanistan.
The Age of Ice lies somewhere to the north of epic fantasy and south of literary memoir, west of War and Peace and east of the Superman. It will appease a reader who likes history, or discovery, or loves a love story, or simply likes to curl up with a book, and read and read, losing track of time, and then realize — oh my, it has been two hundred years already!