Elementals Stories of Fire and Ice by A. S. Byatt | A Short Story Collection

The review of Elements by A. S. Byatt is so long overdue that I don’t even remember the book that much.

But I know the gist of it.

Before this book, I read Possession. After nearly 100 pages, I threw the book due to its tedious prose.

The same prose followed in the Elementals. However, the fairytale format of the story is interesting.

My favorite story is Cold. 

And that is the one I am going to talk about here. 


What happens in the story is there is a princess who is made of Ice. She marries the prince of the desert.

This is the oversimplification of the premise, but this is the core.

So, then the princess migrates to the desert where the prince makes Glass.

Living a few days, and she realizes that the desert treats her terribly. She starts dying.

King makes a new palace for her in the mountains so that the Ice queen can live. There she spends her life, while King goes up and down occasionally.


The first point is to discuss here is migration.

Yes, you cannot stop humans from migrating. It is in nature.

But you are sure that you can’t survive where you are migrating to, and the elders have warned you that you are not made for that region. Do you still go if your love is there?

The real question is: Is it okay to leave your safe world behind for the sake of love. Even if the love is real and genuine, and the one that you will never find again.

If the love asks you to leave your life behind and go with the person to the new place, which might be terminally dangerous to you, would you go?

How do you answer such questions?

Then this is not only about health and dying.

The Ice princess stop dancing, signing, and lose her shine. Desert is not for her, and she knows it. But she does not admit it and chooses to die instead of leaving her love.

Again, it’s love vs life?

But why do you even put yourself in such a condition?

Again, we see in history and everyday life that people do it.

People are ready to die, ready to change and lose their shine for the sake of their love.

A father going out to earn, is not it because he loves his family? A soldier is going to war where he could die because he loves his country.

So yeah, in a way, the decision made by the princess seems reasonable.

But there is the second part of the story.

Second Migration

We know the princess loves the prince, but the prince loves the princess too.

When he realizes what the princess is going through, he starts building a palace at the top of the mountains, cold and ice.

The princess and prince spend their life there and have kids.

Which opens more questions.

A. S. Byatt, in the first part, makes the princess migrate to the desert, but she ensures that she goes back to ice or dies.

So she must remain to her true nature, or she will be dead.

Losing yourself is losing your life. Which, in this case, is also true for the desert prince.

He cannot live long in the mountains and has to go to the desert at regular intervals.

Challenging your true self or adapting to the new environment is difficult. But we do it for the people we live. And that right there is optimism.

This is surprising for me as the other stories are in direct conflict. Crocodile Tears is downright depressing and leans towards escapism.

Elementals Quotes

Apparent Happiness

The final point is appearances.

The princess will marry only that person who will send her the best gift. 

She liked the Glass palace most because glass and snow are similar to the princess.

So it was the physical appearance that was attractive to the princess. An impression that resonated with her own image.

But even if two things look similar, it does not mean they will fit.

However, there are so many conflicts in the stories, and I am not smart enough to understand them.

Maybe that’s why I failed to read Possession.


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Do I recommend Elementals Stories of Fire and Ice?

To be honest, I do not recommend this book.

Yeah, I read it, and kind of enjoyed it. But still, I would not like anyone else reading it.

The book is not fun or helpful or anything significant. It’s just a book, with no meaning like everything else.

Book Summary


Review and Question that are raised in the Elementals Stories of Fire and Ice by A. S. Byatt. There are no answers, only questions.

URL: https://www.bookaapi.com/book-review/elementals-by-a-s-byatt-review/

Author: A S Byatt

Editor's Rating:

Faizan Fahim

Hello, welcome to this blog. Just writing reviews of the book I like. Also, favorite quotes, poetry, memes, sometimes other topics too, but always related to literature. So join me on Twitter to talk to me.

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