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Literature / The Legend of the Ice People

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The Legend of the Ice People (Sagaen om Isfolket) is a Norwegian book series of 47 novels by Margit Sandemo that chronnicles the story of the eponymous family, the Ice People, from the late 16th century to the early 20th.

The Ice People is no ordinary family. They are the descendants of Tengel the Evil, who it is said sold his soul to The Devil and cursed his descendants in the act. At least one in every generation is afflicted with Tengel the Evil's curse, and can do magic, but must often fight an evil within themselves. The story starts in 1581 Norway, where a young woman, Silje, meets one of the afflicted.

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Most of the books are romances, with the fantastical Myth Arc taking a backseat in some books, while being a primary element of others.


This series provides examples of:

  • All of the Other Reindeer: Tengel the Good grew up with no-one showing him kindness because of the curse.
  • All-Loving Hero: Silje, who takes in two unknown kids she stumble upon while starving and freezing herself, just because she couldn't bare to leave them to their fate. Not to mention, the reason she was freezing in the first place was because she gave her only clothes away to "someone who needed them more."
  • All Witches Have Cats: Sol has a black one. In the times of the witch trials, no less.
  • Always Chaotic Evil: Deconstructed. The afflicted were assumed to be this in The Valley of the Ice People, thus leading to Tengel the Good having a terrible childhood.
  • Animal Eyes: All of the afflicted have - usually yellow, sometimes green - cat eyes.
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    • Sol is especially know for them, as she gets known as "The Cat-Eyed Witch."
  • Aristocrats Are Evil: Averted. The Ice People has both a line of Barons (Meiden) and one of Marqraves (Paladin) among them, who are usually thoroughly decent people, and among the other aristocratic characters in the series, there are both good and evil people.
  • Baby Factory: One book brings up the Lebensborn project in Norway during the Nazi occupation.
  • Beauty = Goodness: Mattias is said to look like an angel and behave like one, too.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Tengel is an extremely kind person, but is downright terrifying when angry, as both Sol and Tarald learn.
  • Burn the Witch!: How Sol was meant to be executed. Instead Tengel sends her poisoned food so she'll die peacefully.
  • Creepy Child: The afflicted tend to come off this way as children, to varying degrees.
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  • Creepy Good: Tengel the Good is said to look like a demon or an animal, but he is nothing but well-meaning.
  • Cure Your Gays: Played straight with Alexander Paladin, who is "cured" by falling in love with Cecilie.
  • Cursed with Awesome: Some of the afflicted, such as Sol, see the curse this way. Others, such as Tengel the Good, would rather be rid of it, even though it grants them magical abilities.
  • Deal with the Devil: Tengel the Evil cut one for power and fortune, if the legend is to be believed.
  • Death by Childbirth: Common for the Ice People.
    • Tengel the Good's mother died from giving birth to him, because of his enormous shoulders. This trait is another reason for his Vow of Celibacy; he doesn't want to cause another woman to die the same way.
    • Sunniva dies the same way as Tengel's mother when giving birth to Kolgrim.
    • Tarjei's wife, Cornelia, dies from childbirth, despite giving birth to an ordinary child with a highly trained physician at her side.
  • Disappeared Dad: Several cases over the course of the books, either because of death or abandonment.
  • Driven to Suicide: The fate of the witch hunter from the second book. Invoked by Sol, who used her magic to make him want to die.
    • Ironically enough, Sól much later ends up suicidal herself and gives herself up to the witch hunters to die in the way she feels would befit her best.
    • Mikael, who suffers from "melancholia" (in modern terms, depression), attempts suicide at the end of the ninth book (The Lonely One). He survives the attempt, however.
  • The Empath: The afflicted usually have this power.
    • This is the only power Dominic has, due to the split between him, Niklas and Villemo.
  • Enfant Terrible: Kolgrim.
  • Evil Feels Good: Many of the afflicted think so.
  • Evil Makes You Ugly: Implied with Hanna and Grimar, explicitly stated with Trond.
    • This is said to have happened to Tengel the Evil, but Tengel the Good casts doubt over it; he thinks his ancestor simply got old.
  • Extreme Doormat: Yrja, Tarald's wife.
  • Famed In-Story: Tengel the Good becomes a famous physician, whom even King Christian IV has heard of.
  • Give the Baby a Father: One of the two reasons Cecilie and Alexander get married in the first place. She miscarries though.
  • Healing Hands: The afflicted sometimes have this power, in a very literal sense. Tengel the Good was very noted for them.
    • This is the only power Niklas has, due to the split between him, Dominic and Villemo.
  • Hot Witch: Sol, who is beautiful and embraces her magical talents to a dangerous degree.
  • Kissing Cousins: Downplayed, as they're always at least second cousins. Because of the curse, any intermarrying is considered risky, though it seems as long as the pairing is at least third cousins, it's safe.
    • Sunniva and Tarald are second cousins. Their union leads to the birth of the evil, cursed Kolgrim, whom Sunniva dies giving birth to.
    • Two pairs in one generation with Irmelin and Niklas as well as Villemo and Dominic, who are all third cousins.
    • Barely mentionable with fifth cousins Dan and Ingrid, or sixth cousins Vinga and Heike.
  • The Legend of X
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: Inevitable with how much time passes, but downplayed because of how few children the Ice People gets.
  • Long-Lost Relative: Mikael was known to the family, but war and chaos meant he didn't know them and only as an adult was he reunited with them.
  • Maternal Death? Blame the Child: As a child, Tengel the Good was repeatedly told he killed his mother.
  • Missing Mom: A natural result of death by child birth being a recurring problem among the Ice people.
  • No Bisexuals: A weird case. Both Tarjei and Alexander mentions the existence of bisexuals, but when Alexander falls for Cecilie, it's treated as if he's been "cured" and is now heterosexual.
  • Not Blood Siblings: Dag and Liv, who grew up together, and would still refer to each other as siblings even after Dag started to live with his biological mother, end up married.
  • Obviously Evil: Partially deconstructed, but sometimes played straight.
    • Tengel the Good is always assumed to be evil because of his looks and lineage, but isn't, as the name suggest.
    • Even those afflicted with the evil nature of the curse along with the ugliness usually have some good in them. Old Hanna, who is often used as a prime example of the curse, cared a lot about Sol and Liv.
    • Played straight with Kolgrim.
  • Psychic Link: The family as a whole has a very downplayed version of this.
    • First brought up when Cecilie is, through her thoughts, able to impart on Tarjei that she needs his help.
  • Rape and Switch: This is revealed to be Alexander Paladin's past.
  • Strong Family Resemblance: Common in the family. Tancred and Mikael, who are second cousins, look very similar.
  • Tangled Family Tree: And how.
    • A big cause of this is the Ice People's tendency to have kids with their (second, third, etc) cousins. See Kissing Cousins above.
  • Vow of Celibacy: Tengel the Good made one to himself so the curse would die with him. Didn't work out, though.
    • Villemo, inspired by him, does the same, though in her case it's implied to be pure childishness. She doesn't keep it, either.
  • Wicked Witch: Old Hanna, who was very afflicted with both the magical abilities and the evil nature of the curse.
  • The Witch Hunter: The family (mostly Sol) contends with a decidely non-badass one in the appropriately titled second book, Witch-hunt.
  • Wrong Guy First: Silje falls for Hemming before she realises her love for Tengel, though she finds out about Hemming's bad sides before anything can come of it.
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