Novel: The Ice Dragon by George R.R. Martin and Luis Royo (Illustrator) | Goodreads
Release Date: October 21, 2014 (first published in 1980)
Publisher: Tor Teen
The Ice Dragon is an enchanting tale of courage and sacrifice for young readers and adults by the wildly popular author of the #1 New York Times bestselling Song of Ice and Fire series, George R.R. Martin. Lavish illustrations by acclaimed artist Luis Royo enrich this captivating and heartwarming story of a young girl and her dragon.
In the world of A Song of Ice and Fire the ice dragon was a creature of legend and fear, for no man had ever tamed one. When it flew overhead, it left in its wake desolate cold and frozen land. But Adara was not afraid. For Adara was a winter child, born during the worst freeze that anyone, even the Old Ones, could remember.
Adara could not remember the first time she had seen the ice dragon. It seemed that it had always been in her life, glimpsed from afar as she played in the frigid snow long after the other children had fled the cold. In her fourth year she touched it, and in her fifth year she rode upon its broad, chilled back for the first time. Then, in her seventh year, on a calm summer day, fiery dragons from the North swooped down upon the peaceful farm that was Adara’s home. And only a winter child—and the ice dragon who loved her—could save her world from utter destruction.
This new edition of The Ice Dragon is sure to become a collector’s item for fans of HBO’s megahit Game of Thrones.
The Ice Dragon is a “children’s” fantasy story filled with dragons, war, and sadness. The main character, Adara, is a winter child, and she has always stood apart from other children because she is quiet and unaffectionate. Her favorite season is winter and she is unaffected by cold, which allows her to play alone for long hours in the snow and to meet the ice dragon. Adara tolerates her family and likes the ice lizards that live in her snow forts, but she loves her the ice dragon.
I enjoyed most of The Ice Dragon. The illustrations are beautiful, and done in an old-looking style that complements the story. I liked Adara, liked her love of creatures and the coldness that distinguished her. However, I had a few problems with the story’s ending. It was lackluster, abrupt, and largely unexplained. Despite the story’s title, the ice dragon was quickly and easily cast aside, and felt very much like a minor character in the last part of the book.
WARNING: THE FOLLOWING PARAGRAPH SPOILS PART OF THE ENDING.
Firstly, Adara somehow loses her otherness by shedding her first tears, which removes the winter from her and turns her into a normal child. I found that weak and disappointing—I didn’t see Adara’s differentness as undesirable, wrong, or needing to be fixed. Secondly, I disagree with the way the ice dragon is treated and represented at the end of the story. The ice dragon gives its life to help Adara save her family members—even though just moments before, she wanted to abandon them to live with the ice dragon safely in the north. Adara indirectly caused her uncle Hal’s death by running away. But the ice dragon, after flying south to rescue her from a cave, acquiesces to her demand and turns back toward her family’s burning and war-torn farm. The ice dragon is burned and melts—in other words, it dies—but Adara suddenly doesn’t care, because now she has her family back. Right, the family I mentioned earlier that she only tolerated and then abandoned. The Ice Dragon’s ending was rather insulting, as the magnificent creature who was so important to Adara throughout the story, sacrifices its life for her and she doesn’t even acknowledge its death. I know it’s a children’s book, but I find the depiction of animals like the ice dragon as present to serve human desires, then discarded like they meant nothing, deplorable.
OKAY: THE SPOILER IS OVER.
Sorry for the rant. I did really enjoy The Ice Dragon until its ending, which I felt was disloyal to the nature of the story, and to Adara and her ice dragon. I have yet to read George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series, but I have watched its television adaption, Game of Thrones. There were some very subtle similarities between the setting of The Ice Dragon and Westeros, mainly the rural location and mention of seasons (North/South/Winter/Summer), but I really think it’s a stretch to say that The Ice Dragon takes place in Westeros. Summer and winter seem to happen once a year, though the “winter is coming” for a long time threat is alluded to. And while the publisher claims The Ice Dragon takes place in the same world as the A Song of Ice and Fire series, Martin has never confirmed this. However, I did like that the theme of ice versus fire was played out in the story through the dragons, perhaps inspiring Martin later on when he began writing A Song of Ice and Fire. Overall, I am glad I read The Ice Dragon; I only wish the ending were different so that I could give it the five stars I thought most of it deserved.
Thanks for reading.