Swords of Good Men: The Valhalla Saga Book I Hardcover – 1 Aug 2013
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'A blistering debut novel ... the mix of Viking lore, war and sorcery very appealing' Geek Planet Online. (Geek Planet Online)
'A fabulous debut and a gripping read ... I didn't want it to end' Fantastical Librarian. (Fantastical Librarian)
'A very interesting and exciting story that was hard to put down. 5 stars!' Night Owl Sci-Fi. (Night Owl Sci-Fi)
'An action-filled book with a heart stopping plot and adrenaline fuelled battle scenes. 10 stars' Fantasy Faction. (Fantasy Faction)
'An impressive debut and an engrossing tale that really shouldn't be missed' Speculative Book Review. (Speculative Book Review)
'It's something new both stylistically and subject-wise (fantasy-lite Vikings written by one of their descendants), and certainly if your fantasy reading is starting to feel a bit samey you should give this one a go' Mark Lawrence, author of Prince of Thorns. (Mark Lawrence)
Kristjansson's sprawling cast of colorful characters and eye for historical detail lend this story gratifying verisimilitude (Publishers Weekly on Swords of Good Men)
Ancient traditions are about to meet the new order as the armies of the White Christ sweep all before them: blood will wash the land.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
The story is a bit slow to get going but it's, really, just one story of a siege and the build up to it. The ending is contrived to provide a vehicle for the next book in this series, starring the two main characters and SK comprehensively clears the decks of any future complications through the expedient of killing off just about everyone else! There is a mystical element to the story and, although I don't much like that sort of thing in my 'Viking' books, it isn't too obtrusive here. There is a lot action flowing through and around the town of Stenvik and a plan of the town and its environs would have been useful.
The good stuff; Well, the evocation of Nordic lands a thousand years ago is quite compelling and I really felt as though I was there. The pace of the action, once you are more than half way through, picks up nicely and holds the attention well. Several of the characters are well drawn and interesting in their own right.
The more troubling stuff: By far my biggest grumble is with the style of having 'chapter' headings of place names and then having a new 'chapter' every time the story perspective changes from one character to another. This means that there are many 'chapters' that are less than half a page long. This constant and staccato switching between places and characters gets very confusing, made worse by the similarity in some of the Nordic character names.Read more ›
Swords of Good Men is one of the most disjointed, interrupted novels I've ever read. Within each chapter the action jumps from place to place several times, and in some cases each of these sections is just a paragraph long. I actually really enjoyed the action and the characters that were described in each location, but found it hugely frustrating to have to keep switching between them so fast. I found myself losing track of names and threads in the process. You could, of course, argue that this is simply because I'm a bear of very little brain, but it just isn't a style that suits me well at all. Imagine trying to watching three really good films at once, channel hopping between them, that's what the majority of this novel felt like to me. The content is fantastic, but the style nearly killed me. Are attention spans really so short now? Or is this some new literary trait that I'm just completely unaware of? If this hadn't been a review copy, I would have been unlikely to have finished it, and that would have been a real shame because the absolute best of this one comes right at the end.
Style aside, Kristjansson's characterisation is outstanding. Many times through this one I was reminded of Gemmell, who will always be the master in my eyes when it comes to writing fantasy characters you can genuinely care about. If you like Gemmell, I suspect you'll also like Kristjansson.Read more ›
The remote settlement of Stenvik is a hard place to survive, in fact, it's positively Darwinian. The strong prosper and the weak suffer the consequences. Beset on all sides by forces that want to take control, the village chieftain also has to contend with internal power struggles. As events swiftly begin to spiral out of control, conflict is inevitable.
The writing on display has an evocative air. Be warned though, things get pretty damn graphic as the plot moves forward. There is a wonderfully savage chaos in the action scenes. Unsurprisingly, when violence does erupt, it is often swift and brutal. I know that war is a terrible thing, but I think the writing tapped directly into that primal bloodlust that resides somewhere in the dark recesses of my brain. There was part of me cheering when the Viking berserkers, The Twenty, arrived. When it comes to the battles, there is something wonderfully uncomplicated about it all. There is no thought required only action, the rules are staggeringly simple: kill or be killed.
As an effective counterpoint to all the mayhem of the battlefield, it was a nice surprise to discover that the novel also contains a plethora of more introspective moments. When characters are not engaged in trying to chop bits off of one another they ponder their existence.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I've got to say this is one of the best Viking stories I've read in a long time, it draws you in so you can't stop reading, I will definitely be reading this again in the future, I... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Adam Whitehead
I really enjoyed this one despite struggling with some of the Viking names and trying to remember who was who at times. Read morePublished 9 months ago by PeteMC
I picked this up as a remainder, not knowing anything about the author and just going by the cover & blurb.
Overall, enjoyable, but not top class. Read more
The writing style seems strange at first and took me almost half of the book to get used to the swapping around of pov characters trying to keep track of who was who . Read morePublished 11 months ago by derek slattery