An epic fictional Norse saga set in the ninth century, featuring royalty, repressed love, battles, and the raw appeal of untrammeled nature.
Rich with Viking lore and fact, this compelling family saga involves royalty, territorial battles, and the fraught tensions of the love that dare not speak its name. The tale begins by outlining the relationship between the newly minted king and queen of Herius, who are sailing to an unknown territory. The eye-poppingly named scout Cnut is sent to check out the new land, leaving the king and queen to some rather clunky exposition. Indeed, the entire book tries hard to evoke the great weight of history, which makes for plodding reading: “ ‘Oh Abriel, it is such a curse!’ exclaimed Edwin with a wave of effeminate emotion. ‘To punish me, Padraic whips me mercilessly whenever I show the slightest interest in another man. Yet, I cannot help it. It is who I am! Who would have thought a father could be so cruel to his son?’ ” Not all is well in the kingdom, and tensions simmer among all characters. Oddr, the most poignant and developed character, serves as the book’s emotional backbone. First described as an Angel of Death, Oddr experiences a full and satisfying character arc throughout the story. Ultimately, the book pleasingly wraps up loose ends with an elegant symmetrical narrative. Indeed, structurally and factually, the book is engrossing; however, the prose, especially dialogue, could use an injection of humanity. One warrior describes his cherished weapon: “It was taken from me by Bjorn Kormaksson. There was a time when I could not defeat him. As such, he took my prized sword from me.”
Steeped in period detail and political backbiting in a richly imagined world, but needs a more engaging narrative.