Though I have been a prolific reader all of my life, I didn’t embark on my reviewing career(?) until early in 2013. At that point I discovered, through some new author friends I made on social media, the wonders and benefits of sites such as WordPress and Goodreads. It was while setting up my to be read list on Goodreads that I added The Norseman by Jason Born, it being my intention to get to this pretty quick as I was hungry for some good Viking stories. Alas, my to be read list kept growing, I kept reading and reviewing trying to whittle it down but my reviews caught the eyes of some more authors who then started requesting that I read and review their labors of love. I succumbed to their wishes, lured on by the promise of autographed copies. Yes, dear readers, your humble scribe was guilty of the sins of greed and pride. However, I have repented and have resolved to make a dent in that to be read list so let this review be a testament to that fact.
This tale starts the story of Halldorr, a Norseman who along with some historical figures, such as Erik the Red, Leif Ericsson and a host of Scandinavian kings, Olaf Tryggvason, Sweyn Forkbeard and Haakon, fill the pages with relentless action and drama. Halldorr is an old man recounting his life from his youth on Greenland, to his exile and the subsequent travels and adventures that mold him into a feared and respected warrior in the service of Olaf. As well as the expected ferocity and violent action, the author has also portrayed the more human aspects of life, love, hate, sorrow and joy intermingled with the harshness of survival in northern Europe in the 11th century. The narrative certainly grabbed my attention from the beginning but then the Battle of Maldon happened. As stated earlier, I read a lot of historical fiction and as such I read a lot of battle scenes. While there are scenes of violence and fighting prior to Maldon, it is that battle that thrust the author into the rarified air of being compared to some of my favorite battle authors, Ben Kane, Simon Turney, Gordon Doherty, to name but a few. Mr. Born evokes not only the visceral sights but enables the reader to feel the sword and axe strokes, to smell the gruesome by products of the violence, to enter into the minds of the combatants; in short, the author puts you in the action, makes you part of the shield wall. All told, this tale is a fine example of good research coupled with imaginative creativity and I will certainly pursue the rest of this series. Ironic isn’t it? I’m whittling down my to be read list but now that I have found Jason Born to be to my liking, I now have to add his books to the pile. 🙂 5 stars