The Empress Anna Ioannovna has issued her latest eccentric order: construct a palace out of ice blocks. Inside its walls her slaves build a wedding chamber, a canopy bed on a dais, heavy drapes cascading to the floor - all made of ice. Sealed inside are a disgraced nobleman and a deformed female jester. On the empress's command - for her entertainment - these two are to be married, the relationship consummated inside this frozen prison. In the morning, guards enter to find them half-dead. Nine months later, two boys are born
Surrounded by servants and animals, Prince Alexander Velitzyn and his twin brother, Andrei, have an idyllic childhood on the family's large country estate. But as they approach manhood, stark differences coalesce. Andrei is daring and ambitious; Alexander is tentative and adrift. One frigid winter night on the road between St. Petersburg and Moscow, as he flees his army post, Alexander comes to a horrifying revelation: his body is immune to cold.
J. M. Sidorova's boldly original and genrebending novel takes readers from the grisly fields of the Napoleonic Wars to the blazing heat of Afghanistan, from the outer reaches of Siberia to the cacophonous streets of nineteenth-century Paris. The adventures of its protagonist, Prince Alexander Velitzyn - on a lifelong quest for the truth behind his strange physiology - will span three continents and two centuries and bring him into contact with an incredible range of real historical figures, from Mary Shelley, the author of Frankenstein, to the licentious Russian empress Elizaveta and Arctic explorer Joseph Billings.
The Age of Ice is one of the most enchanting and inventive debut novels of the year.
"Sidorova's lyrical prose complements her protagonist's fantastical tale of isolation on his mythic journey." - Publishers Weekly
"Sidorova's imaginative and densely detailed first novel mingles historical and speculative fiction... Characters, real and fictional, and [Alexander's] continual yearning for connections enrich the tale with depth and meaning." - Booklist
"Fans of historical fiction with a supernatural component may like this novel, but the climate-immune protagonist and his endless, often nonsensical ramblings will leave more literal-minded readers feeling cold." - Kirkus
"Jeweled with the kind of narrative intricacies and heights of fancy that transform a good story into a sensory glut, in this mesmerizing debut, Sidorova reduces you to a primal state of readership, casting you into darkness so vast that you have no choice but to press on and discover what about it feels so familiar. The Age of Ice rekindles every far-flung childhood memory you have of what it means to experience a great book." - Téa Obreht, New York Times-bestselling author of The Tiger's Wife
"In this marvelous first novel, J.M. Sidorova combines the various properties of ice - its grotesque mutations, its flaws and cracks, its rotting swells, its bitter and consoling beauty - and builds them layer by layer into a metaphor for the emotional and political forces that encase us and the world ... Sidorova has created a tale at once familiar and foreign, thawed out of history and yet still fresh." - Paul Park, author of A Princess of Roumania and Ghosts Doing the Orange Dance
"The Age of Ice is a big book - big in ambition and big in achievement. From magical opening to lyrical close, Sidorova moves with ease and authority across the globe and through the centuries. The writing is crystalline and the adventure never ends. Everything you could want in a novel." - Karen Joy Fowler, author of The Jane Austen Book Club and We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves
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J.M. Sidorova was born in Moscow when it was the capital of the USSR, to the family of an official of the Ministry of Foreign Trade. She attended Moscow State University and the graduate school of the Russian Academy of Sciences. She moved to Seattle, Washington, in 1990 and works as a research professor at the University of Washington, where she studies cellular biology of aging and carcinogenesis.
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