Tuesday, January 8, 2019

The Half-Drowned King

The Half-Drowned King by Linnea Hartsuyker, 431 pages

In the 9th Century C.E., Norway had not yet been united under a single ruler and instead was a land of many, many kings with many alliances and blood feuds between them. Hartsuyker's novel takes us into this almost magical land of fjords and Vikings, gods and warriors, telling of the days leading up to the reign of King Harald, the young gods-blessed man who would eventually unify the country. This novel focuses on Ragnvald, a young man who survives an assassination attempt by his stepfather; Solvi, the sea raider whose father contracted him to commit the murder; and Ragnvald's sister, Svanhild, whose wanderlust and beauty immediately captivate Solvi, much to Ragnvald's chagrin.

As the storyline weaves among these three main characters, it also spends plenty of time in battle, in feasts, and in the mundane (and somewhat scary) spheres inhabited by women. I found this a fascinating tale, richly told. It makes me want to go to Norway and see this wild land myself, though while I plan this dream journey, I'll have to satisfy myself with reading Hartsuyker's sequel, The Sea Queen, which came out last year.

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