The literary life of EDWARD JAMES, author,reviewer, occasional poet and former pension adviser to the government of Kyrgyzstan
So far, this year, I’ve read some good books – but this, so far, is my favorite. I know a book is good when I start slowing down so I don’t reach the ending.
The Frozen Dream, by Edward James
The Frozen Dream, a story of adventure, romance, tragedy and survival based on England’s first contact with Russia in the period of Tudor history between Henry VIII and Elizabeth. The Frozen Dream was winner of the Silverwood Kobo Open Day prize in 2015.
Blurb: As the boy-king, Edward VI, lays dying in Greenwich Palace, three ships set sail from London to find a new route to China across the North Pole. At their helm is Richard Chancellor, a reluctant pilot-general who is more scholar than sailor. He must leave his entire life behind him: his work, his family and his beautiful, wealthy lover, Kate Thomas.
When the ships are forced to land in uncharted Arctic lands, a plucky cabin-boy named Arthur Petty is taken in by a native Sami tribe after his shipmates abandon him. Richard, meanwhile, finds himself at the court of the formidable Tsar Ivan the Terrible who coerces him into waging a war…on Arthur and his new people. When Arthur discovers Ivan – and Richard’s – plans for the Sami, he will stop at nothing to save them. Will he, with the help of the headstrong Kate, be able to bring peace to Lapland and return Richard to England?
‘The Frozen Dream’ is a novel about a forgotten chapter of English history, tucked between the oft-remembered dramas of Henry VIII and Elizabeth. It’s an extraordinary tale of courage, endurance, murder, war, betrayal, tragedy and love.
The story follows the fate of three ships and two main protagonists – Richard Chancellor is the leader of the expedition. He’s been coerced into taking the trip – his wife is expecting their first child, and he doesn’t want to leave. He doesn’t really want to leave at all – he is skeptical of finding a new route to China (what they called ‘Cathay’ at that time).
The other main character is Arthur, a cabin boy, who is travelling on another ship which becomes lost in the north. After a mutiny, the captain is killed, the ship becomes locked in ice, and most of the sailors take their chance across the rough ice to retrace their voyage and hopefully return home. Alone, Arthur decides to head out inland. He nearly dies, but is saved by a tribe of the Sami people, who heal him and welcome him into their clan.
Richard, in the meantime, has found a Russian trading post and is taken to meet Ivan the Terrible, Tsar of Russia. Since his boat has canons, Ivan has decided Richard will help him win his war against Sweden, to recapture the lands in the north.
Richard does not want to become involved in a war that has nothing to do with England, but Ivan is holding his men and ship hostage – and he fears that if he does not agree, Ivan will simply kill them all and take his ship and its precious cargo. Besides, Ivan dangles a promise of trade – and a possible route to China via the Volga. Against his better judgment, Richard agrees, and sets in motion a chain of events that would affect everyone involved.
Richard and Arthur meet for the first time on opposite sides of a war neither wants – and it is a clash of personalities and civilizations as the Russians, with the English guns and canons, smash their way into the Sami’s territory on their way to battle Sweden. But the Sami are not defeated, and soon the Russians find they are not as superior as they believed.
The Frozen Dream stayed with me long after I finished it. Mr. Jame’s prose is descriptive and lyrical. I was entranced by the story, especially the part about Arthur, the humble cabin boy who became a Sami shaman. Reading it was a pleasure, and I’m looking forward to reading more by Mr. James.
Kindle edition: https://www.amazon.com/Frozen-Dream-Edward-James-ebook/dp/B016J0NXL2
Author website: https://busywords.wordpress.com/
Contact the author: firstname.lastname@example.org