The Raven Banner (The Whale Road Chronicles #2) by Tim Hodkinson

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‘FAST-PACED, DETAILED AND BRILLIANTLY WRITTEN [FOR] FANS OF BERNARD CORNWELL, GEORGE R.R. MARTIN AND THEODORE BRUN’ HISTORICAL NOVEL SOCIETY.

Einar Unnsson will be a great warrior, whether he wants it or not.

AD 935 – Late Winter, City of Jorvik.

Einar Unnssonis destined to be a great Icelandic warrior. He has already defeated the men sent to kill him by his notorious father, Jarl Thorfinn, the ‘Skull Cleaver’ of Orkney. He has a gift that makes him lethal in battle. Yet he has cast it all off to be a bard.

When three men attack him, Einar’s poetry provides little protection. Luckily, the skilled archer and Norse-Irish princess Affreca saves him. She’d assumed Einar had left to raise an army, challenge Thorfinn and seize the Jarldom of Orkney. Now she’s determined to set him back onto his rightful path.

Einar soon finds himself entangled on Affreca’s own mission. She’s seeking the Raven Banner for King Eirik. Legend has it that the banner is imbued with powerful magic. That it was a gift from the Norse God Odin and any army that marches behind it will be victorious. The quest sets events in motion that are beyond Einar’s control.

Einar has no choice but to face his fate and swing his sword once more…

Praise for Tim Hodkinson:

‘An excellently writtenpage-turner, with a feel for the period which invites you into the era and keeps you there’ Historical Writers Association.

‘A gripping action adventurelike the sagas of old; and once finished, you just want to go back and read it all over again’ Melisende’s Library.

REVIEW

Einar would rather sing about the adventures, not be a participant in them, but such is not his wyrd; his fate. A captivating sequel to Odin’s Game, The Raven Banner is a roller coaster ride of a tale. Einar and his companions are put through some pretty hair-raising events (not the least to Affreca  🙂 ).  An adrenaline rushing, page turning, tale of the turbulent times of Aethelstan – Hakon –  Eirik Blood Axe. The characters are full of the times, the experiences, the lore and legends of the many peoples looking to call Britain their home. I am looking forward to the next installment – this is indeed a series to lose oneself in. 4⭐⭐⭐⭐

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

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AD 915.

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

Pre-order links: 

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2Iu5hOT

iBooks: https://apple.co/2XtSz6x 

Kobo: https://bit.ly/2VUn6Kb 

Google Play: https://bit.ly/2DwpjEH

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Melisende’s Library Guest Post

Book Addict Rambles Guest Post (1)

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The Waste Land by Tim Hodkinson

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Richard Savage is back.  The former Templar knight is now a farmer in France, that is until he is compelled to take on a mission back in Ireland.  An Ireland that is undergoing a power struggle between the Scots, who have taken control of the north under the command of Edward Bruce and who seek to subdue the whole island and the English.  However, they have a problem in Ulster as Castle Carrickfergus is somehow surviving a siege and a famine.

I was riveted to the pages as the author has produced a book at full throttle.  The action is relentless, the politics are insidious and the main characters, both the villains and the good guys and girls, are portrayed in a most entertaining fashion. Emotions run high, hardships are endured and intrepid resourcefulness are the order of the day as the story winds it way through a few surprising turns of events.  It is indeed a most enjoyable read and what’s even better is that this isn’t the end of Richard’s involvement in the battles between the English King Edward and the Bruce brothers, Robert and Edward.  I am looking forward to the sequel.  5 stars.

Lions of the Grail by Tim Hodkinson

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In Lions of the Grail I found myself transported to a time and place I am not too familiar with, the history of Northern Ireland and the invasion of it by The Bruce Brothers.  It seems that most everyone in that region wanted to rule Ireland except maybe the Irish who were too busy clan fighting to resist the English under King John or the upstart Scottish King Robert the Bruce.  It is in this chaotic period that we meet our protagonist Syr Richard Savage, formerly of Ulster but who joined The Knights Templar as a personal quest to find meaning in life.  Unfortunately for Savage, the Templars are declared heretics and are condemned by The Pope so after being betrayed by a former Templar now turned Knight Hospitaller, he has been incarcerated for 5 years awaiting his fate.  Fortunately for Savage, King John(the son of Longshanks) has a pressing need for a former Ulsterman to spy out what is happening in Ireland regarding the Scots and the rumors of invasion.

The author has given us a tale with an intriguing cast of characters from the effeminate King John, the duplicitous Templar turned Hospitaller, The Bruce brothers Robert and Edward, a host of Scots, Irish, and Norman descendants, loyal mercenaries and witchcraft accused mother and daughter.  The story runs the gamut of human emotions, love, hatred, loyalty, loss and redemption, to name a few.  It also has The Grail and how it came to be in possession of Robert the Bruce and how he uses it to gain allies.  Given the many Grail stories and tales that are out there I found that the author gives a credible rendition though perhaps not as good a one as in the Monty Python movie.  🙂

All in all, Lions of the Grail is a fast paced, intriguing story full of twists and turns, full of villainous treachery, full of valor and courage.  A thoroughly enjoyable story.  I rate it at 4.5 stars.

The Spear of Crom by Tim Hodkinson

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I am always looking for good stories involving Celts, Druids and the might of Rome.   The Spear of Crom by Tim Hodkinson meets those requirements and more.  The story centers on one Fergus MacAmergin, a Prince of a Hibernian clan who runs afoul of his King and the Druids and is forced into exile.  He joins the XIVth Legion as part of an auxiliary unit of cavalry and finds himself sent on a dangerous mission surrounded by those who want him dead.  The mission is to retrieve a mysterious and mystical spear said to be by some the mythic weapon of the god Lugh and later of the mighty Celtic warrior Celtchar and by others the spear that pierced Jesus’ side as he hung on the Cross.  In either case it is valued highly by those who seek to possess it.

The General of the XIVth Legion, Gaius Suetonius Paulinus, is portrayed as an ego driven, power hungry individual, traits that are rampant throughout the Roman aristocratic mindset during that turbulent period of Nero’s reign when many sought to be the next Emperor.  His agenda is but one of many that the author has injected into his characters.  This plethora of plots and emotions are the fuel that feed this many faceted story.

As the story unfolds in all it’s intricacies we are treated over and over again to the author’s descriptive powers in all manner of ways; battles, scenic imagery, religious ritual, the views of a Roman camp or a Celtic hillfort; the list goes on.  The story also presents a variety of religions and the inevitable ways they clash and therefore provide the impetus for much of the agony of not only that time but indeed time immemorial.

The pace of the book is frenetic and I mean that in a good way.  You are turning pages to read action upon action interspersed with crucially tense situations.  I would put the book down occasionally to catch my breath and ruminate on what I just read.

In summary, if you’re looking for a story that transports you to the seething cauldron that is Roman power seeking or to the bitter rivalries between religions or the tribes of Britain then I recommend The Spear of Crom.  I give it 4 stars.