I just finished the trilogy and heartily agree with all the descriptions of it as compulsive, unputdownable etc. The first volume however was marred for me by the series of setpiece torture scenes. I am not unduly squeamish, and read the battle scenes of heads being split to the breastbone, etc, with equanimity, but the almost obsessively detailed descriptions of the unspeakable things men do to other men are a bit too much. At the fifth such setpiece (the hideous murder of king Ella) I had had about enough, and swore a mighty oath that if they started yet another I would consign them and their books to Niflheim. Apparently this vibe reached them transtemporally for there were no further offences. I thoroughly enjoyed the development of the story in vols. 2 and 3. I was amused by the way Shef and his men anticipated so many of the inventions of the following twelve centuries or so.His first battleship was even called Dreadnought ( oh sorry, that's Fearnought), I half expected him to be using dive bombers by book three. Good fun. A curious aspect. A John Holm is credited as co-author on the cover but not on the title page, and is never mentioned anywhere else in the books, on back cover blurbs etc. Also never mentioned by any reviewers. A moments googling reveals him to be a pen name of professor Kim Shippey, an authority on early English language and history. \So it seems that Harrison's brilliant research is really Shippey's professional knowledge. Almost a conspiracy of silence??
This is a well-researched and inventive counterfactual history of our Anglo-Saxon and Scandinavian English Early Middle Age. Harrison paints a picture of an appealing alternative course, where the expanding power of the catholic church is defeated by Heathen followers of Woden, Thor and the old gods and goddesses. The incoming Christians are portrayed as hypocritical and resistant to change, whereas the Heathens embrace new ideas and technology which they use to defeat the new religion and its followers in battle, securing an England free from the oppression of Rome. England becomes a tolerant land where Heathens and indigenous Christians live in harmony, able to use the land's resources and talents to improve the lot of the ordinary citizens, Rome is horrified by this freedom and seeks to enslave the apostates, but fails dismally and a new golden age begins. This book really makes you think of the advances that could have been made early in our history, were it not for the dead hand of Christianity. A really great read, highly recommended!
Nice to see it as an e-book but like many books in a many other series they don't seem to be bringing the others to the format at all or in any semblance of order, which is damned frustrating if you want to buy them all for your Kindle.