Reviewed by Rowena C. Ruiz
Sidorova’s book the Age of Ice is an epic story spanning two centuries. It explores the life of on Prince Alexander Velitsyn who was born with a special power – the ability to make ice. Unfortunately, this ability has a drawback: the more he feels emotions, the more ice he makes. This becomes a barrier to having normal relationships with others. He learns to become controlled and reserved in the expression of his emotions, so as not to injure others. His twin Andrei, however, has no such problems and goes on to marry and have a son. Despairing of ever having a normal life, Alexander embarks on a quest to find out what he truly is and how he can control or get rid of his ability.
The book chronicles Alexander’s attempts come to terms with his extraordinary ability. While some of us would regard such power as a blessing, Alexander looks upon it as a curse because it prevents him from living a normal life. In truth, his struggle and journey is more with himself. The only time that Alexander seems to have accepted that his ability can be a blessing is during his married years with Anna, who has accepted him for what he is. However, after Anna’s death, Alexander is burdened by guilt and embarks on a journey in search of self once more.
Alexander’s struggle is a reflection of the struggle that we have within ourselves. Like Alexander, we struggle with facets in our personality and make-up that frighten us. Just like Alexander, we long for love and acceptance. Just like Alexander, there lurks the fear that if those around us knew the full extent of who and what we can be, rejection and loneliness. Thus we sometimes go to extremes to conceal the “dark side” of who we are. We wear masks and seek to mold ourselves into something that others perceive us to be. We deny the less desirable parts of ourselves and live a life of pretense.
In time Alexander learns to accept that his talent is an integral part of who he is and achieves a measure of peace. He finds that the thing he feared the most is not necessarily a curse but can be used and harnessed to the benefit of mankind. So too with us, when we learn to accept who we are both the bad and good parts, then our outlook changes. Instead of looking inward and watching out for ourselves, our worldview expands to include those around us. Like Alexander, we too find that those facets of our personality that we fear the most are not so fearful after all and can be harnessed for the common good.
This is the first work of Sidorova that I’ve read and I found myself empathizing with Alexander. His fear of rejection held him back from sharing his condition with others, but that did not stop him from looking for those who would unconditionally accept him. Thus the book is also a call for us to be sensitive to others’ needs and situations. While we may not always understand or approve the actions of others, we must learn to look beyond actions to the real person beneath and accept for who they truly are. It may be that our acceptance of them will be the motivation that they need to step out from the shadows and reveal who they really are.
We give this book a rating of 4 charms.
The Age of Ice is published by Simon and Schuster and is available through various book vendors. For this review, we were granted a review copy via netgalley.