Odin’s Game (The Whale Road Chronicles Book 1) by Tim Hodkinson

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In the Orkney Isles, a young woman flees her home to save the life of her unborn child. Eighteen years later, a witch foretells that evil from her past is reaching out again to threaten her son.

Outlawed from his home in Iceland, Einar Unnsson is thrown on the mercy of his Uncle, the infamous Jarl Thorfinn ‘Skull Cleaver’ of Orkney. He joins forces with a Norse-Irish princess and a company of wolfskin-clad warriors to become a player in a deadly game for control of the Irish sea, where warriors are the pawns of kings and Jarls and the powerful are themselves mere game pieces on the tafl board of the Gods.

Together they embark on a quest where Einar must fight unimaginable foes, forge new friendships, and discover what it truly means to be a warrior.

As the clouds of war gather, betrayal follows betrayal and Einar realises the only person he can really trust is himself.

Not everyone will survive, but who will conquer all in Odin’s game?

REVIEW

Whenever I read or hear the name Odin, I almost inevitably am drawn back to a scene in the Tony Curtis/Kirk Douglas movie, The Vikings. Tony Curtis is tied to a pole anchored in a tide pool awaiting death by drowning, while an old woman (a volva) is praying in anguished cries, “ODIN”, seeking the god’s intervention. (Spoiler alert – Tony survives). In Odin’s Game, the god does not directly intercede, but he plays an integral part in the lives of those who are gifted by him. Einar is one of those upon whom Odin has bestowed his gifts. Odin’s Game is a wonderfully crafted tale of discovery, not only of Einar’s shrouded in mystery lineage, but also finding out who he was in the eyes of men and gods, and who he was meant to be.

Any tale that wants to set the hook and reel me in has to have characters who are not only well developed, and interesting, but they also have to get me emotionally involved. The author has created a bevy of well developed, interesting characters to help, or hinder, Einar on his travels, some of who produced, in me, positive vibes, some of who I loathed from the start. The story, while in the main is Einar’s search for identity, has some surprises along the way; twists and turns in the plot line giving the reader moments to pause and exclaim, “I didn’t see that coming”, or “I knew he was up to no good.’ Odin’s Game is an entertaining voyage along the Whale Road, and I for one am looking forward to more of Einar. 5 Stars

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About the author

Tim Hodkinson grew up in Northern Ireland where the rugged coast and call of the Atlantic ocean led to a lifelong fascination with vikings and a degree in Medieval English and Old Norse Literature. Apart from Old Norse sagas, Tim’s more recent writing heroes include Ben Kane, Giles Kristian, Bernard Cornwell, George RR Martin and Lee Child. After several years New Hampshire, USA, Tim has returned to Northern Ireland, where he lives with his wife and children.

Follow Tim:

Twitter: @TimHodkinson

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Uther’s Destiny by Tim Walker

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Late fifth century Britannia recoils in shock at the murder of charismatic High King, Ambrosius Aurelianus, and looks to his brother and successor, Uther, to continue his work in leading the resistance to barbarian invaders. Uther’s destiny as a warrior king seems set until his world is turned on its head when his burning desire to possess the beautiful Ygerne leads to conflict. Could the fate of his kingdom hang in the balance as a consequence?

Court healer and schemer, Merlyn, sees an opportunity in Uther’s lustful obsession to fulfil the prophetic visions that guide him. He is encouraged on his mission by druids who align their desire for a return to ancient ways with his urge to protect the one destined to save the Britons from invaders and lead them to a time of peace and prosperity. Merlyn must use his wisdom and guile to thwart the machinations of an enemy intent on foiling his plans.

Meanwhile, Saxon chiefs Octa and Ælla have their own plans for seizing the island of Britannia and forging a new colony of Germanic tribes. Can Uther rise above his family problems and raise an army to oppose them?

Book three in A Light in the Dark Ages series, Uther’s Destiny is an historical fiction novel set in the Fifth Century – a time of myths and legends that builds to the greatest legend of all – King Arthur and his knights.

This book is preceded in the series by Abandoned (book one) and Ambrosius: Last of the Romans (book two).

REVIEW

Most of the Arthurian tales I read when I was younger, such as The Crystal Cave series by Mary Stewart (which I thought was magnificent), or saw via movies or TV (Richard Harris’ Camelot), dwelt on the mythical for the most part. Uther’s Destiny while it is certainly comprised of those mythical bits, it is also a stark look at post-Roman Britain; the vacuum left with the departure of the legions, and the very real danger of being overrun by the Angles/Saxons/Jutes etc who rushed in to fill that vacuum.  The author’s portrayal of Uther; a complicated man firmly rooted in the 5th century, a king weighed down with the prospect of losing Britain to the invaders, but also a king with the smarts and tenacity to succeed. Indeed, the characters in this tale from Merlyn, to the proud knights, the scheming Morganna, and the treacherous Pascent all do their part to make this an enjoyable read. Also woven into the plot is the inevitable clash of the old religion with Christianity and Uther’s juggling of the two as needed. So, dear reader, immerse yourself in The Dark Ages, and prepare for the enlightenment to come in the person of Artorious.  4 stars

The Raven and the Cross by C.R. May

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The North: 937AD – Three years have passed since the English king Athelstan bribed treacherous jarls to take Erik’s half-brother as king in Norway.

Forced from his kingdom, Erik Bloodaxe returns to the Viking ways of his youth. Warlords are driven from Danish lands, Saxony burns, and Dublin falls to a brutal assault before the prow beasts of Erik’s fleet turn south to stalk the seas off Al-Andalus.

As Erik’s reputation as a battle winner spreads his sons grow to manhood, and together they carve a new kingdom to rule from the islands which gird Britain’s north-west.

But Bloodaxe is not alone in suffering the Imperial ambitions of the southern English, and when a half-remembered figure leads a Northumbrian deputation to the king’s Orkney fastness, events are set in motion which will lure Erik south to face his greatest test.

The Raven and the Cross continues the turbulent story of Erik Haraldsson, a legendary king of the Viking Age.

REVIEW

An exciting sequel to Bloodaxe, Eric is a little older now. A bit more mature, a bit more pragmatic, without dulling the warrior within. The author portrays this formidable son of Harald Fairhair at the height of his battle prowess, and his abilities as a leader, who inspires not just loyalty from his people, but also love as well.  The underlying thread in book 2 is the fulfillment of a prophecy Erik had received as a young man. It was prophesied that Eric would be a king five times. He and his retinue do a fair bit of traveling in this tale, gaining wealth and prestige, as well as getting closer to achieving that prophetic number. Page turning drama, characters who give life to an era shrouded in mystery, and the coming clash of the old religion(s) versus the Cross of Christ, all this and more awaits you my dear readers. 4 stars

 Historical Fiction reviews  has been selected by our panelist as one of the Top 100 Fiction Blogs on the web.

War King – Hakon’s Saga Book 3 by Eric Schumacher

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WAR KING BY ERIC SCHUMACHER

Publication Date: October 15, 2018
Creativia Publishing
eBook; 279 Pages
ASIN: B07GT3DB13

Series: Hakon’s Saga, Book 3
Genre: Historical Fiction/Vikings

It is 954 A.D. and a tempest is brewing in the North. Twenty summers before, Hakon Haraldsson wrested Norway’s throne from his murderous brother, Erik Bloodaxe, but he failed to rid himself of Erik’s family. Now the sons of Erik have come to reclaim Erik’s realm and avenge the wrong done to their father and their kin.

They do not come alone. With them marches an army of sword-Danes sent by the Danish King, Harald Bluetooth, whose desire to expand his realm is as powerful as the lust for vengeance that pulses in the veins of Erik’s brood.

Like storm-driven waves, the opposing forces collide in War King, the action-packed sequel to God’s Hammer and Raven’s Feast.

Review

Having read and enjoyed the first two books of this trilogy, I was very much looking forward to the finale.  I was not disappointed. This is a tale full of irony, as well as the full force of life in a brutal, and oft confusing time. Hakon had been warned and counseled to kill the sons of Eric Bloodaxe, but he refused to do it, wanting to end the blood feud. Well, that didn’t work out too well, as they came seeking vengeance and glory.

The historical record of Hakon and his struggles to keep his kingdom is sparse, leaving the author with plenty of room to be creative, which he does in a most entertaining fashion. The battles are full of the bluster, the camaraderie, the smells, the screams, the dying, and the glory of victories. The lives of the people, their struggles to survive, the oaths they have sworn, the harsh conditions one finds in the Northland, as well as it’s beauty are perfect backdrops to the cares, happiness, love, and soul searching which permeate Hakon’s life. All in all, a fitting end to the story of an enigmatic Norse King, a man seeking peace in a world where peace is fleeting, and often short-lived.  5 stars

AVAILABLE AT AMAZON

Praise for the Hakon’s Saga

“I was swept up in the action and enthralled by the descriptions of Hakon’s struggle.” -Roundtable Reviews

“I highly recommend this historical fiction novel, both for its entertaining story and historical information.” -Historical Fiction Review-

“A story of war, family, sacrifice, honor … one that keeps your blood pumping and your fingers turning pages rapidly. I can’t wait to dig into the next.” -Goodreads Review

About the Author

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Eric Schumacher was born in Los Angeles in 1968 and currently resides in Santa Barbara, CA with his wife, two children and dog. He is the author of two historical fiction novels, God’s Hammer and its sequel, Raven’s Feast. Both tell the story of the first Christian king of Viking Norway, Hakon Haraldsson, and his struggles to gain and hold the High Seat of his realm.

More information on Eric and his Hakon Sagas can be found on his website. You can also connect with Eric on TwitterFacebookGoodreads, and AuthorsDB.

 

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Glass Island by Gareth Griffith

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Dark Age Britain – the Romans have gone, the Saxons are coming, the native Britons are in trouble. An exhilarating, yet tragic tale awaits you, dear reader; one that has it’s basis in the thin historical record of the period and that is expertly applied in a fictional context that is as believable as to seem like the truth. The author has given such life to the characters and a view of the world they lived in that makes one think this is the way it might have been. I was especially intrigued by the strong female presence among the male dominated warrior society and that they made a huge difference in the lives of their people, either by healing, guidance or even in warfare. The pivotal battle against the marauding Saxon’s (without giving away too much) is an excellent example of the author’s ability to make the reader feel a part of the chaos and turmoil; an aching with every loss is felt through the written words.  It is also a tale of resilience in the face of tremendous loss and an uncertain future – a tale of an age that was brutal, where only the strong survive. 4 Stars

Eric Schumacher’s Cover Reveal for WAR KING

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WAR KING

BY ERIC SCHUMACHER

Publication Date: October 15, 2018
Creativia Publishing

Series: Hakon’s Saga, Book 3
Genre: Historical Fiction/Vikings

It is 954 A.D. and a tempest is brewing in the North. Twenty summers before, Hakon Haraldsson wrested Norway’s throne from his murderous brother, Erik Bloodaxe, but he failed to rid himself of Erik’s family. Now the sons of Erik have come to reclaim Erik’s former throne and avenge the wrong done to their father and their kin. But they do not come alone. With them marches an army of sword-Danes sent by the Danish King, Harald Bluetooth, whose desire to expand his realm is as powerful as the lust for vengeance that pulses in the veins of Erik’s brood. Like storm-driven waves, the opposing forces collide in the thrilling finale of Hakon’s Saga, War King; and when they do, Hakon is left with no choice but to face the tempest and resist.

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About the Author

Eric Schumacher was born in Los Angeles in 1968 and currently resides in Santa Barbara, CA with his wife, two children and dog. He is the author of two historical fiction novels, God’s Hammer and its sequel, Raven’s Feast. Both tell the story of the first Christian king of Viking Norway, Hakon Haraldsson, and his struggles to gain and hold the High Seat of his realm.

More information on Eric and his Hakon Sagas can be found on his website. You can also connect with Eric on TwitterFacebookGoodreads, and AuthorsDB.

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#WarKingCoverReveal #EricSchumacher #CoverReveal #Historical #HistNov #HistFic #HFVBTBlogTours #amreading #bookbloggers #booklovers #booknerd #CoverLove #War #Vikings

Conrad Monk and the Great Heathen Army by Edoardo Albert

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A delightful tale of a rather unusual monk and his attempts to get rich while avoiding the Danish horde that is running roughshod over Britain. Conrad is a schemer, always ready with a plan; which is a good thing as his plans have a way of not going according to plan. His companion, Brother Odo, a very devout monk, unwavering in his faith in God and in Conrad’s plan(s), provides much of the mirth while also provoking sympathy from the reader. The author has crafted an entertaining version of the Danes – the sons of Ragnar; Ivarr, Ubba, and Halfdan – and the eventual clash with Aethelred and Alfred. I particularly enjoy historical-fiction when the historical events are written in such a way that the fictional aspect; the interaction of the fictional characters with the historical, the way that the story is tweaked to allow the reader to think, “Yeah, it could have happened that way.” Conrad Monk and The Great Heathen Army did just that while also sparking periodic chuckles and chortles from this amused reader.  4 stars

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Bloodaxe – Erik Haraldsson 1 by C.R. May

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An exhilarating start to a new series, Bloodaxe follows the early life of Eric Haraldsson, the favored son of Harald Fairhair, King of Norway. Favored son or not, the path to true acceptance as rightful heir is strewn with Fairhair’s bastard progeny. Honing his skills as a warrior and a leader of men, and enriching himself and crew by raiding villages and churches, Eric returns to his homeland ready to rule. What follows is a stirring rendition of revenge for wrongs done in the past, and making war on half-brothers who dare to resist. Through the telling of this tale I felt myself relishing in the spray of the sea as Eric’s warship plowed from one adventure to the next. Eric Bloodaxe, as the name implies, is a character true to his time, and is not hesitant to deal out death. however, the author has endowed him with a depth that complements that warrior instinct with a clarity of purpose, and a will to succeed. Looking forward to the next chapter. 4 stars

 

A Sacred Storm by Theodore Brun

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8th Century Sweden: Erlan Aurvandil, a Viking outlander, has pledged his sword to Sviggar Ivarsson, King of the Sveärs, and sworn enemy of the Danish king Harald Wartooth. But Wartooth, hungry for power, is stirring violence in the borderlands. As the fires of this ancient feud are reignited Erlan is bound by honour and oath to stand with King Sviggar.

But, unbeknownst to the old King his daughter, Princess Lilla, has fallen under Erlan’s spell. As the armies gather Erlan and Lilla must choose between their duty to Sviggar and their love for each other.

Blooded young, betrayed often, Erlan is no stranger to battle. And hidden in the shadows, there are always those determined to bring about the maelstrom of war…

MY REVIEW

Erlan is an outsider with a mysterious past (hint- I hadn’t read A Mighty Dawn, the first book in the series, before reading A Sacred Storm, but will certainly rectify that soon) who becomes a favorite warrior and adviser to the Svear King Sviggar.  To say that Erlan is a complex, and tormented character is an understatement. He is a fierce warrior with a crippled ankle, a troubled past, conflicted by oaths, doubt filled thoughts about the gods, and is in love with a woman he cannot have. The story centers around a blood feud between two kings; Sviggar and Harald Wartooth, the Danish King, but is also replete with subplots that ripple throughout the tale providing not only excitement and drama, but also provides impetus to the exhilarating climatic chapters. Indeed, the last quarter of A Sacred Storm is a pure, page turning, emotional ride of battle lust, revenge seeking and sorcery. The author has created a thoroughly enjoyable tale complete with an interesting cast of characters; the irrepressible Kai, the jovial Einar Fat Belly, the beautiful but haunted Lilla, and especially the masterfully evil Saldas. I am looking forward to catching up with Erlan’s past and with his future.  5 stars

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Theodore Brun

Theodore Brun studied Dark Age archaeology at Cambridge, where he graduated with a BA in Archaeology and Anthropology and an MPhil in History. Professionally, Theodore qualified and worked as an arbitration lawyer, in London, Moscow, Paris and finally Hong Kong. In 2010, he quit his job in Hong Kong and cycled 10,000 miles across Asia and Europe (crossing 20 countries) to his home in Norfolk. Theodore is a third generation Viking immigrant – his Danish grandfather having settled in England in 1932. He is married and lives in London.

Wolves of War by Martin Lake

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In Wolves of War, Mr. Lake has once again given us a tale of an intriguing time in Britain’s history.  The Danes, under the leadership of Ivar the Boneless have come to Britain’s shores; this time it’s not a raid and run endeavor, this time they’ve come to stay. The story revolves around the quick witted brother of a renowned blacksmith; not your typical Viking warrior, and his unexpected rise in Ivar’s retinue of advisers.  Buoyed by a host of wonderful characters, both fictional (Leif,Thorvald, Aebbe) and historical (Ivar, Guthrum, the Kings of Northumbria, Mercia, Wessex, and East Anglia), the reader is taken on an emotionally charged voyage as Leif embarks on an unexpected journey; one that will see him find love, and happiness, as well as a full slate of unwanted, dangerous troubles. One of the historical aspects I really enjoyed is the appearance of a younger Alfred, before he became ‘The Great’.  The author has written about him in prior books, but this time it provides insight to his character; his piety, his lustful nature, his politically sagacious mind. All in all an enjoyable, entertaining read of a pivotal era in Britain’s long history.  4 stars