REVIEW: The Ice Cap & The Rift by Marshall Chamberlain

The Ice Cap & The Rift Book Cover The Ice Cap & The Rift
Marshall Chamberlain


John Henry Morgan, ex-Marine, Director of the United Nation’s Institute for the Study of Unusual Phenomena, returns from the devastating attack on ISUP’s Mountain project in Belize only to be cast into the aftermath of the Comboquake and the dangers of the rift. Morgan and key ISUP staff mount an expedition to the rift and discover a cavern occupied one hundred and eighty thousand years ago, containing a perfectly preserved high-tech habitat and a traveling machine operated by unknown scientific principles.

The benign scientific expedition to study the cave and its contents encounters deceit and violence as nations and terrorist groups ferret out the existence and significance of the discoveries, and mount sophisticated operations to acquire technological treasures for their own purposes. ISUP finds itself at the convergence of clandestine assault from several fronts. Violence escalates. Lives become expendable -- a scenario that has plagued the human race through the chronicles of time.

Frantic action: Prague, London, New York, Washington, D.C., Libya, France, Spain, China, Iceland. Across oceans and air lanes, factions grapple for power. Survival for the ISUP scientists and preservation of new technologies for the benefit of humanity lie in choices of whom to trust.

I received an advanced reader copy of The Ice Cap & The Rift by Marshall Chamberlain in exchange for my honest opinion.

Usually, when you give me a book with an ancient mystery hidden under the ice, it will  enthral me for hours. Think Matthew Reilly’s Ice Station, Greig Beck’s Beneath the Dark Ice, or Dan Brown’s Deception Point. However, this book fell sadly flat.

Perhaps it was because it was the second book in the series; Chamberlain gave some explanation of what happened in the first book, but didn’t really give any depth to what they’d found during that adventure. Or, it could be because the team made an amazing discovery of a city buried in an ice cap, but that seemed secondary to the entire story. Maybe it was because three of the main characters had names starting with ‘M’, which made it confusing to keep everyone straight at times!

I think the success of the other books I mentioned was that, amidst the action (which, in essence, was very similar – basically different world powers fighting it out for control of the discovery), there was also significant exploration of the discovery itself! Where it came from, how it got there, and why it was there in the first place! In Ice Cap, however, the main characters really didn’t discuss the origins of the discovery at all, which was both odd, and annoying.

I felt that the majority of the book was set on a plane, with the main character flying between Prague, London, New York, Washington and Iceland – repeatedly – to talk to various officials or check in at his office. Much of the content that was drawn out over these flights could have been better developed in Iceland, which was supposedly the centre of the action.

That said, I’m yet to mention the most bizarre part of the story. For two short chapters, we’re transported to some kind of distant, alien civilisation. The ‘aliens’ are apparently a super advanced race of beings, who subtly interfere with happenings on Earth, to ensure that the human race doesn’t kill itself. It is implied that the discovery of the ancient city in the ice was made earlier than expected, and could throw everything out of balance. In itself, this is an interesting idea. However, it was BARELY a part of the story! Just a few pages of discussion between these aliens, and again, no real exploration of the depths of their involvement or plan. I’m not against the occasional addition of an alien race to a story (Again, Matthew Reilly does this brilliantly, in his debut novel Contest), but in this instance I felt that the execution was a little off.

I don’t know if I’ll continue reading this series (though I am mildly curious about how the alien thing will play out!), but if you choose to, I’d definitely suggest reading the series from the beginning, in case that helps. You can find it on Amazon here. I’ve got to say, I was disappointed in this book! I was looking forward to discovering a new series to delve into, but was instead left feeling rather flat. I’d love to know if anyone else has read this book and had a different reaction!

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