I have a bookternet friend, Sarah. She’s never steered me wrong when it comes to romances, it’s true, but when she started talking about a series called Ice Planet Barbarians by Ruby Dixon I wasn’t sure that I wanted to go there. I don’t want to yuck anyone else’s yum, but I typically prefer all the characters in my romances to be… Human. I mean, I’ve read plenty of sci-fi, and I’ve read plenty of romance. It just never occurred to me that the combination of the two would be something I might like. And thus, on a whim, I decided to try reading the first book in the series just to see what it was all about. And before I realized it, I was somewhere in the neighborhood of book 5 and very invested. I’m not entirely sure how this happened. Also, please note that while I’ve heard IPB have been all the rage on TikTok I’m too uncool to use that app and wasn’t influenced by it in the slightest. I was purely influenced by Sarah’s Bookstagram posts, because I am a Geriatric Millenial already overwhelmed by the number of apps on my phone.
Ice Planet Barbarians will NOT appeal to every reader, even beyond the whole “they’re blue aliens” part, so I want to address that first. The premise of the series is that a bunch of 22 year old women were abducted from earth to be sold in some sort of alien meat market. Were they being sold as food? As slaves? As sexual curiosities? It’s never fully explained, but absolutely nothing good was going to come of it, that much is clear. We learn that VERY early on thanks to a graphic and traumatic rape scene at the hands of some alien guards CONTENT WARNING, Y’ALL. Beyond that, there’s more than a little ill-advised but well-intentioned kidnapping. And some of the consent is a little blurry because of a weird alien mating compulsion. So, like I said. Definitely not for everyone. However. If those elements aren’t deal breakers for your reading enjoyment, the books are really fun, and they don’t take themselves too seriously. Dixon may say “utterly” a bit too much, but I will let that slide thanks to her impressive world building and creativity with the sexy times.
All the women are humans abducted from earth, so they often make comments on the weirdness of the situation. Ruby Dixon isn’t afraid to directly address potential sources of inspiration, either. The humans call the Ice Planet “Not-Hoth” because, well, it’s basically like Hoth from Star Wars. But, you know. Not. Over various books she’s also referenced the similarities between the mating compulsion and Twilight’s imprinting mythology (although the aliens never imprint on infants, because that was really creepy, JACOB), the fact that the aliens definitely have an Avatar vibe, and the fact that when offspring occur (because mating compulsion) they Brangelina the kids’ names. (Except for the one who named hers after Anna and Elsa, which absolutely cracked me up. Because Frozen. See? Wonderfully cheeky.) Without further ado, I’m going to give you the tiniest snippets of my thoughts on each human-alien couple so far. I’m talking couples because I cannot keep the names of the actual books straight to save my life. They are all “Barbarian’s _______” and I’ve read so many so fast that I’m completely lost. Also, I’ve been skipping all the novellas, though I’ve heard they’re excellent supplemental stories if you really want the full IPB experience.
Georgie and Vektal (Ice Planet Barbarians) The origin story. It’s not one of my favorites, but I think that’s because Dixon had to spend so much of their story setting up the premise of the series so they didn’t get as much character development as some of the others. Also, I’m still struggling with their, uh, “meet cute.” I’ve come to accept the resonance/mating compulsion thing but CONSENT, VEKTAL.
Liz and Raahosh (Barbarian Alien)- Liz is a firecracker. She wants to hunt and eat raw meat and just get down with her Not-Hoth self. She’s pretty bad ass. Raahosh is OK too, though he loses points for the kidnapping bit. He has reasons but they aren’t super great reasons? Still, I end up forgiving him because he makes Liz happy.
Kira and Aehako (Barbarian Lover)- Grumpy/Sunshine trope alert! Only, Aehako is sunshine and Kira is grumpy. I mean, girl has a right to be grumpy, she was the first human captured by the aliens and was forcibly implanted with a translation device, but still. She’s not so much grumpy as traumatized I guess? But it’s close enough. Aehako is thus far, my favorite blue dude. I’m a sucker for sunshine.
Harlow and Rukh (Barbarian Mine)- Kidnapping again, which isn’t my fave, but Rukh has the best excuse of the bunch because he’s essentially the Tarzan of the Ice Planet. He grew up completely feral, so he gets a pass for having no idea what’s going on.
Tiffany and Salukh (Barbarian’s Prize)- Ooof this one was a journey. Tiffany has some major trauma to contend with thanks to her treatment at the hands of the BAD aliens (content warning for sexual assault). But she ends up being popular as heck with the blue fellas because there are lots of single alien men and not many eligible women to go around. This one is friends to lovers, which is always a lovely way to do things.
Josie and Haeden (Barbarian’s Mate)- Josie also has some trauma to overcome, both from the BAD aliens and her very effed up earth childhood. (Another big content warning for sexual assault and child abuse.) She’s all in on Not-Hoth though because she finally feels like she has a family. It’s a dream come true until she resonates with her sworn enemy, Haeden, who has his own baggage. Enemies to lovers, a tried and true trope.
Lila and Rokan (Barbarian’s Touch)- Lila is discovered after the initial wave of humans in a stasis pod on a wrecked ship. Her cochlear implant has been removed though, so she has to rely on sign language. Not the easiest thing to do when the humans and aliens struggle to understand each other even with spoken language. But then there’s yet another kidnapping, and her gentle semi-psychic alien comes to her rescue. Rokan is high on my list of favorite aliens. Second only to Aehako, methinks.
Maddie and Hassen (Barbarian’s Taming)- Maddie was discovered with her sister Lila, and friggin HATES Not-Hoth. She’s surly and she super hates the jerkface who kidnapped her sister… But she decides that a hate-hookup with the tribe outcast wouldn’t be the worst idea. At least he won’t be around to gossip about it around the fire since he’s in exile. LOL, oh never change, Ruby Dixon, I love you. Anywho. Enemies to lovers again. Maddie is one of my favorite humans, very feisty.
Stacy and Pashov (Barbarian’s Heart)- This is among my least favorites, only because I’ve read too many amnesia stories. I’m over amnesia. Still, it wasn’t BAD or anything, just not my jam. Didn’t stop me from continuing to tear through the series like a ravenous Metlak.
I’m probably going to keep bingeing the series, as I’m fully addicted at this point. I’ll note that I listened to all of these via audio, which was super helpful for the pronunciation of the alien names. Katie of 10 years ago would have read these in secret and not told the whole internet about it, but that’s the perk of aging. I care less and less about what other people think as I climb through my 30s. Read what you like, folks. If blue aliens sound like a good time to you, by all means, check out Ice Planet Barbarians!
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