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The Ice Dragon    by George R. R. Martin & Yvonne Gilbert order for
Ice Dragon
by George R. R. Martin
Order:  USA  Can
Starscape, 2006 (2006)
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

George R. R. Martin, author of the brillliant Song of Ice and Fire adult fantasy series, offers here a much gentler (though still with scenes of war and violence) and equally magical story for young readers.

We learn that 'Adara was a winter child, born during the worst freeze that anyone could remember ... The winter had touched her, left its mark upon her and made her its own.' Adara's mother died during that freeze and the pale skinned girl has always been 'a child apart'. Her father John loves her but feels 'she has never loved back ... She is such a cold little girl.'

Unbeknownst to her family, Adara - who loves to make a winter castle for the fragile ice lizards in her secret place - makes contact with a rare ice dragon ... 'Ice formed when it breathed. Warmth fled. Fires guttered and went out, shriven by the chill.' But Adara, winter's child, is able to touch it and eventually to ride on its back.

Then Adara's uncle Hal, a king's dragonrider, brings word of war, one that the king's forces are losing. He begs his brother to leave the farm but John refuses. And war eventually arrives in the form of dragons breathing fire and turning all to ashes. Adara runs and hides. When her ice dragon comes for her, she faces a choice - between winter and spring.

It's wonderful to have a fantasy starring a small girl for a change, and Adara makes a delightful heroine, wearing her difference well. Kids will resonate with her secret place, and the fact that her family can never really truly understand all that she is. I hope to see more children's stories from George R. R. Martin.

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