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4.5 out of 5 stars
The Prow Beast (The Oathsworn Series, Book 4)
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on 12 March 2010
The Master returns,Robert Low brings his passion and love of the Norsemen to the page as we pick up the saga of Orm and the Oathsworn.When you have fame and are top of the pile there are always someone who wants to knock you of the top.There are old friends, but fewer now,but there are also old enemies looking for revenge and after the lost of the Fjord Elk and the sacking of Hestreng, they are froced to flee into the mountings and this is only the start of the Oathsworn problems.Robert Low pulls you into the time,the place and before you know it you have your sea-chest stowed and you are sat with your oarmate waiting for Orm and Finn to show the way.
It`s been a long cold winter,but in a cosy chair,with a great book,a glass of the "water of life" and adventures with old friends what more could one need,if Finn would indulge me one more time and let me quote Red Njal old granny"you can have to much of a good thing".
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Well as Robert Low is always keen to remind us, 'the Gods promised the Oathsworn all the riches and fame in the world, but never said they would enjoy it!'

This the fourth in the Oathsworn series finds our band of warrior brothers back at home sitting on their horde of silver and busy whelping new Viking pups. You just know there is a 'however' though, and there is, a big one!

Their blood frenzied antics come back to haunt them from their last adventure in the shape of a boat load of beserkers led by a revenge crazed jarl, into this broth stir some Norse 'king making' politics and ambition, a promised self-sacrifice to Odin, and a journey up the Oder river in full spate to retrieve a young foster son entrusted to Orm.

It's action packed, brutal, grim, tragic, funny, moving and above all else incredibly entertaining stuff.

What sets Low apart from the other great writers of historical fiction is his ability to make the charactors so individual and real rather than lumbering plot vehicles. For me only GRR Martin and Abercrombie are in the same league in this respect. That and the fact you just do not know what the heck is going to happen next. Low has no qualms about killing his characters off, so you read his books with a genuine fear, no, a knowledge, that some of the people at the start of the journey will not be there at the end, no matter how fond you are of them.

For other dedicated Oathsworn fans reading, you will be glad to hear Crowbones makes a welcome return to proceedings, and this book does not close the book on a possible 5th Oathsworn story as I feared it might, knowing the author has switched his attentions to the 'Wallace/ Robert the Bruce' story.

I also happen to know from following Low's blog that he has a completed 'Crowbones' book, good to go. So if anyone at Harper Collins is reading, as the song goes, 'why are we waiting?'

I also liked the fact that the inevitable epic journey, which in previous Othsworn stories has got a little tedious, this time was onboard ship so gave the story much more momentum and pace as well as allowing me to indulge my actual Viking fantasies.

In summary, the best Oathsworn book yet! Here's hoping for at least one more, when the two 'Roberts' have won freedom from us bloody English!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 16 April 2010
Having bought the 1st in the series on a whim I have been impressed by the realism and obvious historical accuracy of the era in which the Oathsworn series is set. You can almost imagine you were reading a blow-by-blow account of real people. I would imagine that translations so they can be published for the Scandanavian reader would result in enthusiastic reviews from the countries in which the Oathsworn is set.

Adventure, realism, imagination all set in a historical context and building up the readers relationship with the crew (many of whom die heroic or mundane deaths along the way)so that you come to care.

Bring on No. 5
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 13 April 2010
Having read the previous books in the series this book didn't lack in
excitement,detail a great adventure.
I am looking forward to reading more books from Robert low
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 28 April 2010
Prow Beast turned out to be another exciting chapter in the travels and travails of the Oathsworn. Robert Low continues to show that he can come up with original stories and character development that keeps his plots and characters from becoming cookie cutter templates for this type of literature. All in all an excellent read!
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on 10 December 2010
Robert Low's series of "Oathsworn" books have captivated me this last month, The Whale Road [book 1] was excellent...but then the books just got better and better. The Prow Beast was nothing short of sensational and I was [to use that overused phrase] "Unable to put it down'". I would compare these books as good or better than Cornwall / Iggulden at their best. Our band of Oathsworn viking warriors [or whats left of them] on a relentless chase from the baltic through Poland to among other things rescue the son of another Viking Jarl who has honoured the Oathsworn Jarl, Orm Bear Slayer with naming him foster father, who then promptly lost him to kidnap during a raid on them by another hoard.
All of these books thunder along with a pace that leaves you exhausted at times, the atmosphere the author creates, is totally believable and you feel you're suffering the horrendous hardships along with the Oathsworn and mourn with them the loss of friends to sickness or battle.You also find yourself laughing aloud as these books are not without their share of mostly dark humour.
These books really are a must for anyone who wants top notch historical fiction [which has more than a foot in fact].
I unreservedly recommend these fabulous books. I also take my hat off to Mr Low for creating such fine works, he is a credit to the genre. Shame the series has finished, yes it could have been drawn out for "just another book", but the author ended it well and I eagerly await what he will present before us next time....for I am Oathsworn to buy it!
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on 7 September 2010
This latest addition in the Oathsworn series is excellent; if possible, it is more grim and gritty than any of its predecessors.

Orm and his Oathsworn face an old foe, fired up with (justifiable) rage and bent on revenge, who burn their home and chase them from their land. The heroes must travel into a relatively unknown corner of Europe in a river voyage that evokes the shades of "Apocalypse Now", culminating in a struggle vaguely reminiscent of the Spartans at Thermopylae.

The Oathsworn hobnob with Viking Age celebrities (Sigrith the Haughty, Pallig of Jomsborg, and Eirik the Victorious, to name a few) but the best part of the book is the central characters. The few of the old favorites who managed to survive four prior Oathsworn adventures - including the grandmother-quoting, parable-laden Red Njal; the alternatingly sweet and ferocious Botolf, and Orm himself, guilt-ridden and tortured by the past. The wonderfully nihilistic Finn returns in all his Odinic, grim fury - and we finally learn the hidden reason for his fearlessness and recklessness. Young (but not as young as in The White Raven) Crowbone, not yet the Olaf Trygvason of saga, makes a return as a gangly youth. Hanging over all their heads is Orm's oath offering a terrible sacrifice if Odin spares his men and their families, an offer on which the one-eyed god is sure to collect.

Robert Low strips away the magic and legend of the sagas to reveal the Viking Age for what it was. In The Prow Beast, the Oathsworn are revealed for all that they are - men mostly inclined to do good, farm the land, be good neighbors and friends, but capable of acts of savagery and cruelty that can be difficult for even the most jaded readers to reconcile. Constantly wavering between their noble and barbaric natures, they are emblematic of age in which they live.
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on 29 March 2011
Book 4

As always, I think the Oathsworn series of books by Robert Low is some of the best books in the historical fiction genre I've ever read. Even better than Bernard Cornwall. The characters are full of depth, the story is AMAZING, the way he describes the time, the culture, their believes, the way they live, it creates this world in your head that is simply fantastic.

Book 4 is the last in the Oathsworn series. I would recommend you read the first 3 books if this is your entry into the series, as there is a lot of history that you may confuse you otherwise.

In this book the Oathsworn sets of to find Jarl Brand's son, who was taken by Klerkon their enemy. While the book isn't as dramatic as the first 3 books, and doesn't really revolve around any treasure, it's well worth a read.

I recommend this 100%.
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Batten down the hatches, light the torches and grab your swords as you prepare to sail the sea's in this, the forth offering in the Oathsworn series. Not only is the adventure along with the fame of the Oathsworn growing but Rob really does search the tales of the ancient norse to weave a thread that the Norn's would be proud to call their own. Not only does Rob bring a great offering to the table but he adds a touch of the old David Gemmell magic into the heroics of the crew taking their own tale to greater heights. It's sad to say that this is going to be the last offering in the Oathsworn series for a while and whilst its going to be a long wait for their next adventure the magic within will only help to swell those who seek to join Rob's Shield Wall.
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on 9 November 2010
I sat down and read this over one weekend. It was a joy to meet old friends and join them as they journeyed and plundered once again. As a woman, I tend to favour female authors - but I really enjoy Low's books. A spade is a spade.I found the plot easier to keep tabs on than some of the earlier books, but wish that all the books had character list at the front as it can be difficult to remember just who is who at times. This is my only minor gripe - it is a rollicking, fast-paced read, keeps you holding your breath till the very end. And even then, there is unexpected sadness. Shut the door, pull the curtains, and lose yourself in another excellent read from Robert Low.
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