Norsevember Wrap- up

Hello!

I can’t believe that we’re already at the end of November! It comes with bittersweet feelings, because on one hand I can now thoroughly embrace the festive spirit – Christmas music is going on at work tomorrow!! – on the other, today is St Andrews Day and were it not the year of Covid I would be attending a Street Ceilidh, torch-lit procession and fireworks. I will however, be indulging in haggis, neeps and tatties and blast some Ceilidh music while I do so.

Tomorrow, I will be sharing my November wrap-up post and looking at what’s on for December. Today however is all about Norsevember, and will actually be my main post for the month as life (and my blasted knees) have got in the way and derailed most of my November plans.

Firstly a massive shoutout to Alex at Spells and Spaceships for organising this event, and for all his amazing posts over the month which have been a much needed bright spot. Also, thank you again for this lovely bookmark that I won from one of the giveaways.

Secondly, I managed to read all but one of the books from my Norsevember TBR, but hadn’t managed to review them yet, so below you will find those reviews (hence the fact that this is a veeeery long post). They turned out to be a mixed bag, with some that I absolutely adored and others I absolutely hated, and some snuck in that weren’t even on the TBR to start with (as is always the way, right?)

Posts:

Reviews:

The Broken Sword – Poul Anderson (on the original TBR)

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Book Summary:

Thor broke the sword Tyrfing to save the roots of Yggdrasil, the tree that binds earth, heaven and hell. Now the elves need the weapon for their war against the trolls. Only Scafloc, a human kidnapped and raised by elves, can hope to persuade Bolverk the ice-giant to make Tyrfing whole again. But Scafloc must also confront his shadow self, Valgard, the changeling in his place among men.

The Review:

It has been a long time since I’ve had such a visceral dislike for a book, and normally it would have ended with a DNF and no rating. However, I persevered with this one for three reasons (1) it was short, coming in on 208 pages so at least I didn’t suffer for long. (2) It was on my original TBR for Norsevember so I wanted to finish it, and (3) it is a ‘fantasy masterwork’ and I am always curious to explore those.

Part of me can see why it is considered a ‘masterwork’ and from the summary and the blending of mythologies and legends, and written in the style of a Norse epic it is something that I should have loved. Unfortunately, that was not the case, and I found myself constantly waiting for that moment when it would click into place and I would be able to see and feel what makes so many people hold it up as a masterpiece, and was disappointed to the end when I didn’t say it. The writing just didn’t grip me, and perhaps I am too heavily invested in the lovely, messy, morally ambiguous characters of modern, darker fantasy but I felt nothing for the characters or their story.

This was very much a case of ‘this is not the book for me’ and on a personal level I have to rate it at a 1-star because I disliked it so intensely (and was disappointed because I had wanted so much to like it). That said, while I couldn’t bring myself to bump it up, even though I can see the appeal (kind of…), I would say that this is a book that would appeal to many people, I’m just not one of them unfortunately.

The Rating: * (1/5 Stars)

Purchase Links:

Amazon UK |Bookshop.org | Toppings & Company | Waterstones

*** *** ***

Queens of the Wyrd – Timandra Whitecastle

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Book Summary:

Raise your shield. Defend your sisters. Prepare for battle

Half-giant Lovis and her Shieldmaiden warband were once among the fiercest warriors in Midgard. But those days are long past and now Lovis just wants to provide a safe home for herself and her daughter – that is, until her former shield-sister Solveig shows up on her doorstep with shattering news.

Solveig’s warrior daughter is trapped on the Plains of Vigrid in a siege gone ugly. Desperate to rescue her, Sol is trying to get the old warband back together again. But their glory days are a distant memory. The Shieldmaidens are Shieldmothers now, entangled in domestic obligations and ancient rivalries.

But family is everything, and Lovis was never more at home than at her shield-sisters’ side. Their road won’t be easy: old debts must be paid, wrongs must be righted, and the Nornir are always pulling on loose threads, leaving the Shieldmaidens facing the end of all Nine Realms. Ragnarok is coming, and if the Shieldmaidens can’t stop it, Lovis will lose everyone she loves…

Fate is inexorable. Wyrd bith ful araed.

The Review:

Queens of the Wyrd was one that had popped up on my radar from various sources again and again, and this was a great opportunity to finally pick it up and I’m glad that I did, because I really enjoyed this one.

This is a wonderful quest fantasy that follows a retired band of shieldmaidens as they form up once more to rescue one of their member’s daughter. Right away, I was hooked on the premise, because we so rarely see mothers so directly involved in the action of fantasy, let alone in the form of a fierce band of warrior women intent on saving the day, and the delivery sealed the deal for me. This was fun, with a wonderful blend of history and mythology, and a really unique take on both, and the worldbuilding was the perfect balance of fantastic and subtle, never overwhelming the plot but leaving me longing to know more.

The characters were the cherry on top with this one, because every one of them had a unique voice, their own history and motivations, and it made for an interesting tapestry of personalities within the group. As much as this book is about the quest and adventure and action, it is also about their relationships, the bonds of friendship, motherhood, love and loyalty and it gave Queens of the Wyrd the kind of depth that leaves a lingering impression, and this will certainly be one that I return to in the future.

The Rating: **** (4/5 Stars)

Purchase Links:

Amazon UK | Amazon US

*** *** ***

All The Windwracked Stars – Elizabeth Bear

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Book Summary:

It all began with Ragnarok, with the Children of the Light and the Tarnished ones battling to the death in the ice and the dark. At the end of the long battle, one Valkyrie survived, wounded, and one valraven – the steeds of the valkyrie.

Because they lived, Valdyrgard was not wholly destroyed. Because the valraven was transformed in the last miracle offered to a Child of the Light, Valdyrgard was changed to a world where magic and technology worked hand in hand.

2500 years later, Muire is in the last city on the dying planet, where the Technomancer rules what’s left of humanity. She’s caught sight of someone she has not seen since the Last Battle:  Mingan the Wolf is hunting in her city.

The Review:

This is one that I stumbled across while searching for books that would bridge the gap between Norsevember and Sci-Fi month, and it was the title that first caught my attention, followed by the cover and the summary. Science-fantasy was my first introduction to reading fantasy/sci-fi through the Dragonriders of Pern series, and this one certainly appealed to that old love.

Firstly, I have to say that absolutely adored Bear’s writing – this was my first time reading her, but it won’t be my last – because her prose completely swept me away from the get go. All The Windwracked Stars is a fantastic blending of Norse Legend and all the myth and magic that you might expect from that, expertly blended with starkly-science fiction technology and settings, without either aspect losing out to the other, and instead creating a complicated, compelling narrative that tugs on more than a few heartstrings along the way.

I will say that this is a book you have to work for, as you are very much thrown in at the deep end and it can take a little while to find you feet, and keep track of the flow of time, but it is well worth the effort. This has to be my favourite discovery from the month, as it was one that wasn’t on any TBR or even on my radar, and I would have missed out greatly if I hadn’t stumbled across it, and I will now be checking out the rest of the series as well as the other books by Elizabeth Bear.

The Rating: ***** (5/5 Stars)

Purchase Links:

Amazon UK | Amazon US| Waterstones

*** *** ***

Ragnorok – A.S. Byatt

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Book Summary:

Recently evacuated to the British countryside and with World War Two raging around her, one young girl is struggling to make sense of her life. Then she is given a book of ancient Norse legends and her inner and outer worlds are transformed. Intensely autobiographical and linguistically stunning, this book is a landmark work of fiction from one of Britain’s truly great writers.

Intensely timely it is a book about how stories can give us the courage to face our own demise. The Ragnarok myth, otherwise known as the Twilight of the Gods, plays out the endgame of Norse mythology.

It is the myth in which the gods Odin, Freya and Thor die, the sun and moon are swallowed by the wolf Fenrir, the serpent Jörmungandr eats his own tail as he crushes the world and the seas boil with poison.

It is only after such monstrous death and destruction that the world can begin anew.
Byatt taken this remarkable finale and used it as the underpinning of this highly personal and politically charged retelling.

The Review:

Byatt is an author I have been aware of but never picked up, but then I foud this book at work and it was perfect for this challenge so I grabbed it. I have to say that I very much enjoyed her prose, although there were a few places where I found it a little too repetitive, and I will say that the writing was probably my favourite part of the book and I do feel that if it had been any longer I wouldn’t have enjoyed this book as much as it would have become too much.

This retelling does fall a little flat, perhaps because I have been blessed with some amazing retellings lately in other books. Still, this was a very relatable retelling, and it was easy enough to see myself as the child taking refuge in a story of another world and time (albeit not during war time) and I think that is why this book had such an impact. I wouldn’t call this a mind-blowing read, but it was one that caught my attention and all in all was a solid read (and short!)

The Rating: *** (3/5 Stars)

Purchase Links:

Amazon UK | Bookshop.org | Topping & Company | Waterstones

*** *** ***

The Wolf in the Whale – Jordanna Max Brodsky

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Book Summary:

A sweeping tale of clashing cultures, warring gods, and forbidden love: In 1000 AD, a young Inuit shaman and a Viking warrior become unwilling allies as war breaks out between their peoples and their gods-one that will determine the fate of them all.

“There is a very old story, rarely told, of a wolf that runs into the ocean and becomes a whale.”

Born with the soul of a hunter and the spirit of the Wolf, Omat is destined to follow in her grandfather’s footsteps-invoking the spirits of the land, sea, and sky to protect her people.

But the gods have stopped listening and Omat’s family is starving. Alone at the edge of the world, hope is all they have left.

Desperate to save them, Omat journeys across the icy wastes, fighting for survival with every step. When she meets a Viking warrior and his strange new gods, they set in motion a conflict that could shatter her world…or save it.

The Review:

This was probably the one I was most excited to read from my original TBR for the month, and it not only lived up to my expectations, but completely blasted them out of the water.

I absolutely adored everything about this book. It has the most wonderful atmosphere all the way through, dark yet beautiful, and packing one hell of an emotional punch in more than one way. The writing was a delight to read, and Brodsky really brought the world and characters to life through her prose, and the exploration of culture and mythology was done so beautifully that you could immerse yourself right there in the world alongside the characters. It was fascinating to see the Viking Gods and mythology brought together with Inuit beliefs, and I would have to say that the parts of the book that explored those beliefs and wove them together were my favourite.

The Wolf and the Whale explores so many things, but at its core is a coming of age story, or maybe that should be a coming of belief story, because this is very much an exploration of belief and the power it holds. From the different cultures, to the main characters, who through their own individual origins and paths, facing their own challenges – finding their identity, facing their past actions – have to come to believe in themselves as much if not more than anything else, in order to forge their future. Omat and Brandr are fantastic characters to explore this through, and they have both bring such unique voices and nuance to the narrative, and I don’t think I could pick a favourite between them even if you paid me to.

An absolutely stunning book, with such depth and atmosphere that it is a story that refuses to be forgotten anytime soon.

The Rating: ***** (5/5 Stars)

Purchase Links:

Amazon UK | Bookshop.org | Topping & Company | Waterstones

*** *** ***

A Gathering of Ravens (Grimir #1) – Scott Oden

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Book Summary:

To the Danes, he is skraelingr; to the English, he is orcneas; to the Irish, he is fomoraig. He is Corpse-maker and Life-quencher, the Bringer of Night, the Son of the Wolf and Brother of the Serpent. He is Grimnir, and he is the last of his kind–the last in a long line of monsters who have plagued humanity since the Elder Days.

Drawn from his lair by a thirst for vengeance against the Dane who slew his brother, Grimnir emerges into a world that’s changed. A new faith has arisen. The Old Ways are dying, and their followers retreating into the shadows; even still, Grimnir’s vengeance cannot be denied.

Taking a young Christian hostage to be his guide, Grimnir embarks on a journey that takes him from the hinterlands of Denmark, where the wisdom of the ancient dwarves has given way to madness, to the war-torn heart of southern England, where the spirits of the land make violence on one another. And thence to the green shores of Ireland and the Viking stronghold of Dubhlinn, where his enemy awaits.

But, unless Grimnir can set aside his hatreds, his dream of retribution will come to nothing. For Dubhlinn is set to be the site of a reckoning–the Old Ways versus the New–and Grimnir, the last of his kind left to plague mankind, must choose: stand with the Christian King of Ireland and see his vengeance done or stand against him and see it slip away?

Scott Oden’s A Gathering of Ravens is an epic novel of vengeance, faith, and the power of myth.

The Review:

This… This is what I had hoped for in The Broken Sword, but a thousand times better than what I had imagined (and a million times more than I got), and also a book that caught me completely by surprise. It was one that I had seen mentioned here and there, but I hadn’t looked at anything more than the synopsis when adding it to my TBR – and while that was more than enough to catch my attention, it did not prepare me for how incredible this book actually was.

Firstly I have to say that I adored the blending of Norse and Celtic mythology, in a world and narrative that was epic in every sense of the world. The sheer amount of worldbuilding and detail in this book are breathtaking, and speak to both Oden’s research as well as his ability to take that and create a rich, realistic world without losing the magic of epic fantasy beneath that historical detail, a delicate task that is done to perfection here. The world is as alive as the creatures and characters that inhabit it, and feels like it could be an alternate history – were it not for the fantastical elements, which only add to the world.

The prose is striking, a unique blend of classic fantasy and modern, relatable language, with that blend of depth, detail and action-packed pacing that you want from epic fantasy. A deeply atmospheric book, A Gathering of Ravens is a book that you experience far more than you read it, and I will be diving into the second bok – Twilight of the Gods asap because I need more of this world, this writing, this everything.

The Rating: ***** (5/5 Stars)

Purchase Links:

Amazon UK | Bookshop.org | Topping & Company | Waterstones

*** *** ***

Blood Eye (Raven #1) – Giles Kristian

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Book Summary:

For two years Osric has lived a simple life, apprentice to the mute old carpenter who took him in when others would have him cast out. But when Norsemen from across the sea burn his village they also destroy his new life, and Osric finds himself a prisoner of these warriors. Their chief, Sigurd the Lucky, believes the Norns have woven this strange boy’s fate together with his own, and Osric begins to sense glorious purpose among this Fellowship of warriors.

Immersed in the Norsemen’s world and driven by their lust for adventure, Osric proves a natural warrior and forges a blood bond with Sigurd, who renames him Raven. But the Norsemen’s world is a savage one, where loyalty is often repaid in blood and where a young man must become a killer to survive. When the Fellowship faces annihilation from ealdorman Ealdred of Wessex, Raven chooses a bloody and dangerous path, accepting the mission of raiding deep into hostile lands to steal a holy book from Coenwolf, King of Mercia. There he will find much more than the Holy Gospels of St Jerome. He will find Cynethryth, an English girl with a soul to match his own. And he will find betrayal at the hands of cruel men, some of whom he regarded as friends…

The Review:

Giles Kristian is an author I had been meaning to check out for a while (there is not enough time for all the authors and books I want to read), so this was the perfect excuse to start and again I have to thank Alex at for my copy of this one.

This one was much more up my street than some of the ones I had read for Norsevember, its brutal and gritting, it had a living, breathing cast of characters that were wonderfully unique, flawed and morally-ambiguous which were paired with well-fleshed world and narrative and a writing style that really brought all the different aspects together into a book that had me hooked from start to finish.

Kristian’s strength really lies in the description, which was so vivid that it felt as though you could feel everything that he was writing on the page, and it breathe life into every inch of the book. There is the kind of detail that comes from careful research, but this is paired with a great instinct for character development and storytelling. The battles and action scenes are another strong point for Blood Eye, because there was so much variety in scale and detail, that every scene felt fresh and unique. This is a series that I will definitely be continuing with, and I also intend to check out some of the author’s other books in the near future.

The Rating: **** (4/5 Stars)

Purchase Links:

Amazon UK | Bookshop.org | Topping & Company | Waterstones

*** *** ***

The Whale Road (Oathsworn #1) – Robert Low

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Book Summary:

A band of brothers, committed only to each other, rides the waves, fighting for the highest bidder, treading the whale road in search of legendary relics.

Life is savage aboard a Viking raiding ship. When Orm Rurikson is plucked from the snows of Norway to brave the seas on the Fjord Elk, he becomes an unlikely member of the notorious crew. Although young, Orm must quickly become a warrior if he is to survive.

His fellow crew are the Oathsworn—named after the spoken bond that ties them in brotherhood. They fight hard, they drink hard, and they always defend their own.

But times are changing. Loyalty to the old Norse Gods is fading, and the followers of the mysterious “White Christ” are gaining power across Europe. Hired as relic hunters, the Oathsworn are sent in search of a sword believed to have killed the White Christ. Their quest will lead them onto the deep and treacherous waters of the whale road, toward the cursed treasure of Attila the Hun and to a challenge that presents the ultimate threat.

Robert Low has written a stunning epic, a remarkable debut novel. Not only a compelling narrative, The Whale Road also brings a new Viking landscape stretching from Scotland through the Baltic and on to Istanbul.

The Review:

I’m not sure whether this one just suffered as a consequence of being read alongside several other books that I absolutely adored, but there was just something about The Whale Road that didn’t manage to capture me as some of the other books had.

I think the main problem was the the characters didn’t have the depth or ‘liveliness’ that I want from my characters, their voices fell a little flat, as though they were there to fulfill a role rather than to be living, breathing people with nuances and threads of their own and while I can’t say that I disliked them – more than you were supposed to anyway – nor was I invested in their stories or the outcome.

That said, I will say that the book did have a promising premise and backbone, and while it didn’t have quite the impact it perhaps could have with richer characters, it did have some fantastic fight scenes and settings and if the characters had matched the world building I feel it would have worked a lot better.

The Rating: ** (2/5 Stars)

Purchase Links:

Amazon UK | Bookshop.org | Waterstones

*** *** ***

The Blood-Tainted Winter (The Song of the Ash Tree #1) – T. L. Greylock

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Book Summary:

Raef Skallagrim wants to take the sea road. His ship is fast and sleek, his crew skilled and eager, and they will seek out new lands and win fame in the eyes of the gods. But Raef’s father refuses to allow the journey and when a stranger brings word that the king is dead and a gathering has been called to choose a successor, Raef must set aside his dream for his duty to his ancestral lands and his father.

When factions split at the gathering to choose a successor, Raef finds himself mired in bloodshed and treachery. Forced to make an uneasy alliance with a man he does not trust, Raef must navigate the tides of a war among three kings while seeking revenge for cold-blooded murder.

But winter has come early to Midgard, and even the gods will feel the cold.

The Review:

Firstly, this is probably one of my favourite covers from the books I read for Norsevember (there’s just something about corvids on a book cover that immediately catches my attention, and this one certainly did). Secondly, this was an author I had been wanting to check out for a while having heard very good things about her.

That said, I wasn’t as taken with this book as I had expected and hoped to be, and I think that is largely down to two things – one was the pacing, which just felt a little too rushed in places, and the fact that outside Raef the main pov character we did not get nearly enough time to spend with the secondary cast and while that does play into the idea of betrayal and revenge and the uncertainty in various relationships, it meant that we had a rather narrow view and I think it would have enriched the plot if we’d been able to spend more time with the other characters. That said, this is the first in a series, so it is possible that aspect will be expanded on in future books, and I really hope it is.

However, Greylock has created a wonderful world that has breadth and depth, and all the ingredients that you want in Norse depth and I absolutely loved her writing style, which really brought it to life.

The Rating: ***/* (3.5/5 Stars)

Purchase Links:

Amazon UK | Bookshop.org | Waterstones

*** *** ***

Odinn’s Child (Viking #1) – Tim Severin

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Book Summary:

In 1001, the young child, Thorgils Leiffson, son of Leif the Lucky and Thorgunna, arrives on the shores of Greenland to be brought up by a young woman—Gudrid. Thorgils is a rootless character of quicksilver intelligence and adaptability. He has inherited his mother’s ability of second sight, and his mentors teach him the ancient ways and warn him of the invasion of the “White Christ” into the land of the “Old Gods.” Guided by a restless quest for adventure and the wanderlust of his favored god, Odinn, Thorgils’ fortunes will take him into worlds of unimaginable danger and discovery.

The Review:

Unfortunately, this one did not get the balance between research/details and narrative/action correct, and to some extent it felt as though it was leaning far too hard into the other and forgetting that it was supposed to be fiction. As a result it was rather dry, slow-paced and just didn’t hold my attention. Added onto a lack of character development and interaction – especially dialogue – and it was hard to grasp hold of any of them, let alone be invested in them or the narrative and it felt very much like a ‘telling’ – which can work when used well, but which fell flat in this case.

This one had potential but didn’t quite live up to it, and I won’t be reading anymore from this series.

The Rating: *** (2/5 Stars)

Purchase Links:

Amazon UK | Topping & Company | Waterstones

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God’s Hammer (Hakon’s Safa #1) – Eric Schumacher

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Book Summary:

History and legend combine in the gripping tale of Hakon Haraldsson, a Christian boy who once fought for the High Seat of a Viking realm.

It is 935 A.D. and the North is in turmoil. King Harald Fairhair has died, leaving the High Seat of the realm to his murderous son, Erik Bloodaxe. To solidify his claim, Erik ruthlessly disposes of all claimants to his throne, save one: his youngest brother Hakon.

Erik’s surviving enemies send a ship to Wessex, where the Christian court of King Athelstan is raising Hakon. Unable to avoid his fate, he returns to the Viking North to face his brother and claim his birthright, only to discover that victory will demand sacrifices beyond his wildest nightmares.

The Review:

This one borders on falling into the same trap as the one above in that it leans a little too heavily into the research and detail – which can be a good thing, when well-balanced with the narrative. In this case, it fell just on the right side, perhaps because some liberties were taken with the history and there was an attempt to develop at least the main character. However, overall this one fell flat, never quite reaching its potential across the board, and in some ways it felt as though the author was trying to do a little too much all at once through the character, and therefore not achieving it which is unfortunate because this did have promise and the writing had more of a punch to it, that also helped keep the narrative moving.

The Rating: ** (2/5 Stars)

Purchase Links:

Amazon UK | Bookshop.org | Topping & Company

*** *** ***

The Half-Drowned King (The Half-Drowned King #1) – Linnea Hartsuyker

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Book Summary:

Centuries ago, in a blood-soaked land ruled by legendary gods and warring men, a prophecy foretold of a high king who would come to reign over all of the north. . . .

Ragnvald Eysteinsson, the son and grandson of kings, grew up believing that he would one day take his dead father’s place as chief of his family’s lands. But, sailing home from a raiding trip to Ireland, the young warrior is betrayed and left for dead by men in the pay of his greedy stepfather, Olaf. Rescued by a fisherman, Ragnvald is determined to have revenge for his stepfather’s betrayal, claim his birthright and the woman he loves, and rescue his beloved sister Svanhild. Opportunity may lie with Harald of Vestfold, the strong young Norse warrior rumored to be the prophesied king. Ragnvald pledges his sword to King Harald, a choice that will hold enormous consequence in the years to come.

While Ragnvald’s duty is to fight—and even die—for his honor, Svanhild must make an advantageous marriage, though her adventurous spirit yearns to see the world. Her stepfather, Olaf, has arranged a husband for her—a hard old man she neither loves nor desires. When the chance to escape Olaf’s cruelty comes at the hands of her brother’s arch rival, the shrewd young woman is forced to make a heartbreaking choice: family or freedom.

Set in a mystical and violent world defined by honor, loyalty, deceit, passion, and courage, The Half-Drowned King is an electrifying adventure that breathtakingly illuminates the Viking world and the birth of Scandinavia.

The Review:

I discovered this series by searching through ‘viking books’ in the library catalogue, and deciding to take a chance on it as the synopsis sounded interesting and I liked the cover.

This one got off to a strong start, delivering the story you were expecting and hoping for after reading the blurb, a well-written, detailed, Viking novel that was well balanced between fiction and research. Unfortunately, it didn’t manage to maintain that all the way through, and I can’t quite say why. It’s as though it lost something partway through, or maybe, its that the charm cast by the setting and the writing gave way to reveal that the plot and characters didn’t have the same depth.

This is really a book of two ratings, because the historical detail and world building (although I would have liked more) is at least one star above the plot and characters, but unfortunately, the failing of the last two really does bring it down and by the time I was two-thirds through it felt as though I was fighting to finish it, because I just wasn’t invested in it or in either of the main characters, let alone the secondary cast.

The Rating: **/* (2.5/5 Stars)

Purchase Link:

Amazon UK | Bookshop.org | Topping & Company | Waterstones

*** *** ***

The Sea Queen (The Half-Drowned King #2) – Linnea Hartsuyker

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Book Summary:

Six years after The Half-Drowned King, Ragnvald Eysteinsson is now king of Sogn, but fighting battles for King Harald keeps him away from home, as he confronts treachery and navigates a political landscape that grows more dangerous the higher he rises.

Ragnvald’s sister Svanhild has found the freedom and adventure she craves at the side of the rebel explorer Solvi Hunthiofsson, though not without a cost. She longs for a home where her quiet son can grow strong, and a place where she can put down roots, even as Solvi’s ambition draws him back to Norway’s battles again and keeps her divided from her brother.

As a growing rebellion unites King Harald’s enemies, Ragnvald suspects that some Norse nobles are not loyal to Harald’s dream of a unified Norway. He sets a plan in motion to defeat all of his enemies, and bring his sister back to his side, while Svanhild finds herself with no easy decisions, and no choices that will leave her truly free. Their actions will hold irrevocable repercussions for the fates of those they love and for Norway itself.

The Sea Queen returns to the fjords and halls of Viking-Age Scandinavia, a world of violence and prophecy, where honor is challenged by shifting alliances, and vengeance is always a threat to peace.

The Review:

I persevered with this one primarily because I had already got it out of the library and it seemed a shame to return it without giving it a chance, and I am glad I did, because it was a stronger book than the first one in the series.

I would still say that the characters and plot are weaker than the setting and detail, but they are more balanced this time, as though the author has settled more into the narrative. There was certainly a lot more depth to the plot than in the first book, and Svanhild has come into her own as a character and while still not as vivid and relatable as I would like from a main character it is a definite improvement, although Ragnvald remains a character that I struggled to really feel invested in.

An improvement to be sure, and I have to say that I do admire the author’s dedication to detail and the world-building, but I don’t think I will be going any further with this series.

The Rating: *** (3/5)

Purchase Links:

Amazon UK | Bookshop.org | Topping & Company | Waterstones

The Future:

As part of Norsevember I started watching The Last Kingdom and Vikings, and I am currently about to start on season 3 of the first one and nearly finished with season one of the latter (I love them both, but the Last Kingdom caught my attention a lot faster), so I will be continuing with that.

I also intend to read The Last Kingdom which was on my norsevember TBR but unfortunately I was too far down the queue at the library and didn’t manage to fit it into the month. As well as continuing with several of the series that I started during this month (sorry, not sorry TBR).

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If you’ve read or read any of these in the future, then please feel free to shout at me about them.

Rowena

4 thoughts on “Norsevember Wrap- up

  1. Great post 🙂 (and so many more books for my TBR…)

    I tried to re-watch Vikings recently and I got a painful reminder of how bad season 1 was. S1: “ERMAGERD VIKINGS ARE COOL!” S2: “ERMAGERD we got a BUDGET!” S3-S4: this incredible psychological drama with great, great characters and storylines. S5: soap opera begins. I don’t know about S6, because I never watched it. But I promise Vikings is going to just get better 🙂

    With The Last Kingdom I must admit that I watched the first episode and it felt so much like Vikings redux – and then at the end there were a boy and a girl on the run, and my eyes just spontaneously rolled themselves… The books were good, though (says my husband).

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    1. Rowena Andrews

      Thank you so much!

      And that is an excellent way to describe season one of Vikings, which is why I think it took me a while to get into it but it has certainly improved, and I will look forward to seasons 3 and 4 by the sounds of it. The Last Kingdom has gone from strength to strength (and did get better once it past the boy and girl on the run!). I’m looking forward to reading the books though 🙂

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  2. Pingback: November Wrap-Up and What’s On for December

  3. Pingback: Self-Published Authors Appreciation Week: Twenty Books to add to Your TBR

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