Modern man Miles Drake transcends time and space to arrive in the medieval world of the Vikings in Horsley’s debut fantasy novel.
Horsley ventures into dangerously shopworn territory: a modern protagonist travels in time back to the era of the Vikings. But the author’s cerebral approach is neither that of a standard teen action-adventure nor a derivative paranormal romance. Multiple narrative points of view and a strong grip on alternative cultural values flavor the saga of Miles, who, until recently, has led a charmed life as a champion college athlete and successful businessman. But as he’s still reeling from the deaths of both his wife and his best friend, Miles is approached by a stranger and asked to carry out a ritual with an ancient heirloom. Abruptly he finds himself in a medieval Norse cosmos, in which he alone can approach the World Tree for healing and answers. Miles is a skeptic of the Vikings’ faith, despite the fact that his new Icelandic friends interpret him as the gods’ own instrument. He adapts with surprising ease to routine raiding and casual killing, introducing his Viking brethren to modified weapons and fighting styles. He also campaigns for chivalry toward women and the helpless, and the colonization of the great North American landmass to the west. Horsley’s storytelling frequently shifts from Miles to those around him as the timeline doubles back and flashes forward with many twists and turns. This method of narration is less burdensome to read than one might imagine, but still eccentric. The author’s most considerable achievement, besides his diverting if tangled yarn-spinning, is illuminating a much misunderstood “barbarian” mindset. Horsley depicts Viking culture with depth and nuance, adding layer to a people who pragmatically accept violence, treachery, death and the will of potentially harsh gods as a predestined way of life.
A virile immersion in traditional Viking values.