Ice Road by Joan Lennon

(Suggested reading level: Grades 4-6)

Last time we visited medieval England and the Wickit Monastery in Fen Gold (below) it was summer, but now winter has come to the Fens with a vengeance, the harshest winter anyone can remember. While everyone in the monastery is sick and confined to bed except young Pip, Perfect the dragon gargoyle, and Brother John, not normally the most relied on monk.

“And you know,” and Brother John leaned close and lowered his voice, as if about to tell [Pip] a deep dark secret, “you don’t need to worry so much, because it’s really astonishing how much a silly person can achieve if he has to.” Then he nodded sagely a few times and even tried to wink. (pg. 78)

And Pip has to leave Brother John alone at the monastery tending to all the sick. The winter has transformed the vast waterways of the Fens to a solid Ice Road, a situation King Arnald’s uncle is planning to take advantage of, attacking through England’s “back door” in an attempt to take over the throne. Pip needs to warn King Arnald, who he became friends with in the Ely Plot. Thankfully Arnald’s army is stationed not too far away, keeping an eye on the northern dukes. And Pip has a new set of skates.

This is another good installment in the series. It’s interesting to see how much the seasons affect the area, from illness to available food to transportation. As always, there’s some danger, plenty of adventure, true friendships. Perfect is adorable and does what she has to to help Pip. I will say that you really do need to read this series in order, because characters from the first book show up in this one and the reader is expected to understand the relationships, like why an orphan peasant can approach the King.

The Q& A in the back of this one covers such subjects as archery and worship services. I think my favorite, though, involves one of the minor character’s name.

Herbertus?! Why would anyone ever call their child Herbertus?

It’s astonishing what people will call you when you’re too small to defend yourself. History is littered with examples. I can only think that parenthood causes momentary weakening of the brain, for which Brother Gilbert might very well have prescribed some pounded peony seeds or a little dried fumitory. (pg. 133)

Even Amber (10) had to giggle.

First published 2007
Wickit Chronicles #3
134 pages

Challenges: 100+

Our copy was given to Amber as a gift and the above is my honest opinion. I am an Amazon associate.