The publisher provided me with a copy of this book to review via NetGalley.
This book starts off great. Lots of action, deaths and an introduction to two of the main characters. Instantly you get the feel of being in a brutal environment between the winter, the vikings and the slaughter. As a fain of medieval England and Norse mythology this book was instantly appealing to me.
The constantly action in the beginning kept me reading and wanting to know what would happen next. So many deaths happened in the first few chapters of the book, some of them quick and others slow and brutal that I was absolutely loving it. I also was interested to see just what secrets Hereward and Alric were hiding from each other and the reason why Alric was being hunted.
As far as characters go I liked Hereward’s brutal ways, no nonsense approach and yet his reluctance to let any harm come to Alric shows he is more than just a killer, he has compassion though he may not openly admit it. Over the story he does grow and change quite a bit and yet there is always that lingering darkness from his past there, threatening to take over at any moment. I didn’t like Alric too much, especially at the beginning, perhaps it’s because he was a bit too preachy or that he was so weak and really kind of bogged Hereward down, even if he did help him find shelter so he could heal. However Alric did grow a bit on me over the course of the book even if I still don’t particularly like him, I learned to at least tolerate him.
The flow of the story slowed down a bit as it reached the quarter mark. The action had died down and was replaced with a good amount of back story mixed with tidbits of what may come in the future with no solid indication of which would truly happen just yet. The characters introduced at this point all seem to be important to the main story in some way and some even seemed to weaved deeper into the side plots than one would think so it was hard to guess their true purpose which made things all the more interesting. There was plenty of talk of prophecy but nothing was really clear cut until closer to the half way mark.
Intrigue runs deep in this story and whose side people are on is not always clear. This is one of the reasons why I enjoy reading Historical Fiction books. People are always trying to move their way around like everything is a game and the people around them are like pieces in that game. Sometimes they win, sometimes they lose depending on the moves they make. Yet the best part is when you aren’t truly sure which side some of them are on, because they play both sides for their benefit and while it may backfire on them, they see it as benefiting them all the while.
One issue I had was with some of the names. Some were so similar that I would get confused as to which character they were talking about. A good example is Harold and Harald as well as Redwald and Redteeth. At a quick glance these two names can easily be mistaken for one another and so I had to pay close attention to who was who in cases like this.
With the amount of bloodshed and graphic deaths this book is certainly not for the faint of heart. However if a constant flow of death and destruction is appealing to you then this book will be an appealing read. I did find the second half went a bit slower than the first half but there was still plenty of action happening along the way. Overall I enjoyed this book and would certainly recommend it both to lovers of Historical Fiction and those who enjoy books of all manners. I will definitely be reading the sequel in the future.