By Judson Roberts
A strong, violent, bloody story set in 9th century Denmark marks the first book in a new series titled The Strongbow Saga.
Young Halfdan, the main character and narrator, is a slave in his father’s house due to his illegitimacy. When his father is mortally wounded in battle, his mother makes a tragic sacrifice which frees Halfdan to be fully recognized by his half-brother and half-sister. Characters important to Halfdan, and his journey from slave to warrior, are richly drawn and are the key revealers of the minutiae of Viking life. Historical detail is so intimately interwoven into the story, making the time and place of the story believable and real.
The language of the story is beautifully done – Halfdan’s voice is a perfect mix of high fantasy, heroic sagas, Viking legends and enough contemporary to make for an ease of reading.
This is an incredibly violent tale though, set in cruel and violent times. Halfdan faces many trials and tragedies, some quite heartbreaking. The strength of his character is revealed in the way he copes and adapts and changes during his journey. This story is so much more than an historical adventure. So looking forward to the next in the series!