OK. I’m behind on my book reviews by about a half a year. Something happened in the second part of 2020 (I forget what now…) that turned a whole bunch of things on their heads. I’m going to try and catch up as much as I can, so be prepared for a bunch of mini-reviews.
First up, the Raven series by Giles Kristian.
Vikings with a heart of gold (mainly) against underhanded Englishmen. It’s a gory read in places, full of banter and action. The historical elements are woven into the story unobtrusively and it makes for evocative reading. If gory.
Having already read Camelot and Lancelot by Kristian, it’s interesting to see the elements that shine in those books beginning to take form here, in particular, the prose. It is nowhere near as well-developed (understandable, maybe seeing as these were Kristian’s first books) but is there nonetheless.
Great, evocative covers.
The characters are well-written and differentiate from each other nicely. A notable mention going to Svein the Red. Who goes a long way to adding to the gore-fest single-handedly. And for what it’s worth, his carnage is much more ‘wholesome’ than the superstition-twisted death handed out by the godi. (A sadistically unpleasant individual. Nicely depicted. Steeped in Norse lore. Nasty b*****d.)
It was inevitable that there would be a ‘big death’ at the end of the series and the author disappointed by not disappointing. In violent times such tragedies are inevitable, but it is testament to the author’s skill that when it happened, my reaction was ‘not him!’. Still. Vikings. What did I expect? A straw death?
If you’re after a well-written, easy read about vikings, this is a good place to start.
Just beware the gore. Did I mention that already?