- Format: Kindle Edition
- File Size: 7722 KB
- Print Length: 381 pages
- Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
- Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
- Language: English
- ASIN: B00GSDYVXA
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Average Customer Review: 40 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #13,318 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Sorrow Hill (Sword of Woden Book 1) Kindle Edition
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I have to agree with the previous reviewer, Ed Flack. For a first novel the author has done an amazing job. The style of writing is very easy to read, helped by a good standard of editing. I don't recall seeing a single typo and it really helps the book flow for me. The characters became real, multi-faceted people, always the mark of a good writer. I found this first volume in the series absorbing and look forward to the following titles. Sue
A nice touch is to have added a few bits about North European (and not only Scandinavian) religion at the time with the appearance of an ageing one-eyed traveller, in particular, but also with the volva – priestesses of the heathen North that were devoted to the Gods (a northern and fiercer version of the Roman Vestal virgins if you like). The exploits of the six and seven year old are just about believable, and, even if you were to be sceptical, they make for a rather good story and are meant to show up the very promising young boy who is to become the greatest warrior of the North.
Another good feature is the description of everyday life among the noble warriors of the Geats in what is now the southern part of Sweden. High born children are fostered to allied families and nobles clans of allied people. This seems to have been a practice that was taking place across both Gallic and Germanic warrior elites before the Roman conquests. There are indications that it continued both during and after the end of the Western Roman Empire. It would also continue to take place during the Middle Ages with young future warriors learning to become knights at the court and castle of their father’s overlord or with one of their father’s allies. Elements of the poem are also skilfully integrated into the story and translated into something much more realistic, such as Beowulf’s fight under sea monsters during a swimming race against Breca, the “English” (Angle) foster son of his uncle Hythcyn.
Fostering and marriage alliances were used as strategies to protect or expand the clan or the King’s power and this well shown in the book. The fostering of Beowulf with his uncle Hygelac, brother of the King of the Geats, but also the Angle/English foster-child of Hygelac’s brother or the marriage of Beowulf’s sister to the son of a lord in Britannia are illustrations. They also show that, at the time when many from Frisia and actual Denmark and Norway were leaving their homelands for new and more fertile lands to conquer in Britannia, there were still close contacts between the two, if only because only part of the populations emigrated and such emigration took place progressively during decades.
The book contains also numerous other interesting items of daily warrior life, showing to what extent the author has researched his topic. There is the feasting and drinking (lots of it). The ribbing, teasing, joking and blustering among warriors is also well displayed. The making of weaponry and of mail armour in particular, is also shown. Ship building and the performances of what the author calls “draca” – warships similar to although smaller than those that the Viking would have some three hundred years later – are also displayed rather superbly through a race, as Beowulf’s ship is hunted down during his embassy to the Kind of Dane Land.
The story itself picks up pace with the suspicious death of the heir (Beowulf’s uncle) and then of the old King of the Geats (his grandfather). His second – rather unpleasant and very scheming - uncle Hythcyn becomes the new King of the Geats with the help of mercenaries from a neighbouring land and Beowulf’s loyalties are somewhat torn. Another consequence of the turmoil is a major raid and invasion from the Swedes which will result in a couple of bloody battles that will do a lot to start establishing the reputation of young Beowulf. This is where you get some rather superb and grim shield wall fighting, among the best that I have read up to now. Five stars.
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