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Black Ice
by Susan Krinard
Tom Doherty, $14.99, 384pp
Publication Date: August 12, 2014
"Black Ice" is the second novel in a three-part series by Susan Krinard.

The first book, "Mist", introduces a Valkyrie named Mist who thinks that she is the last of her kind. The twist of this Norse mythology story is that it's set in modern day San Francisco. While Mist starts to locate some of her kin and look for the Treasures of the Aesir, which Odin had sent them to Midgard (Earth) to protect and keep safe, Loki, the trickster, has plans of his own to take over Midgard.

"Black Ice" takes up where "Mist" left off, with the same interesting characters like Dainn, the elf, who is cursed with a dark beast deep inside, which he is not always successful in controlling. He keeps many secrets and omissions from Mist in some sort of misguided way of protecting her. Many of them involve facts about Freya, her mother, who seems to be playing a power struggle game with Loki.

Many more characters join the group in this book: several new Valkyries; an army of Jotunar or frost giants; a talking Raven who may or may not be channeling Odin; and Sleipnir, Odin's eight-legged mount, who is also considered to be one of the Treasures of Aesir. And just who is the little boy, Danny? What's his importance to Loki in the grand scheme of things?

There is much intrigue and betrayal between friends and foes alike in this story. There is a full-scale battle involving Jotunar, Valkyries and humans to try to protect Midgard and to close the portals which Loki managed to open to bring reinforcements from Asgard.

Will Mist be able to come to grips with the betrayal of some of her people? Is Dainn one of her betrayers? What of Freya? She acts like a caring god to those around her, but what is it about her that makes Mist feel she is up to something?

This is an interesting book. It's well-written and creates a modern-day world in which Norse characters walk around disguised as normal people, while battles are magically hidden so as to seem like earthquakes and natural disasters to the human eye. I enjoyed the characters and setting in "Black Ice" but I think I would have enjoyed them more if I had gotten the chance to read book one, which I sadly did not get to do. I hope to get a chance to go back and read it before the third book in the series comes out. I feel that the best way to experience the story properly is to read these books in the order that they were written. ~~ Dee Astell

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