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Wolfgar: The Story of a Viking Kindle Edition
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Top customer reviews
Having read the first and spoken to him about it and thus being prepared for this sequel, I was still astonished of how much it captivated me!
Reading this book on the bus to and from work, as I often do,I found it confusing and I muddled up characters and events in my head and therefore put it aside for easier pursuits. Taking it up in my vacation, I was totally absorbed by it and finished the second half of it in no time.
Larson is probably the most skilled viking author today, with his simplistic style of narrative.
"page turner" "couldn't put it down" etc are all worn out words and phrases, turning up in indifferent reviews on the back of paperbacks.
I DID put it down and WANTED TO put it down, so as to savour the moment and not finishing it too fast, thereby missing a lot of Larson's special atmosphere.
Having finished this one, I just wanted to go out and find the third volume..
King Olaf is but one of the characters that came on strong in this volume, being a cunning and resourceful man, devout Christan, bound to clash with Wolfgar-Ragnar and the other Vitkis of the first book.
Having said that, it's ovious to the reader that Larson himself, is the on coming on strongest!
Be prepared to have your attention seized and held when you take up this book. Larson's ability as a writer, demonstrated by the first volume of this trilogy, "Eye of Odin", is carried further with this story. Conspiracies abound in this story as Larson builds events. He doesn't let the reader rest as he first conveys Wolfgar's contact with, then immersion in a Lenni Lenape village. Wolfgar and his companions are welcomed by most of the village, including the shaman, Silent Owl. The shaman is impressed by Wolfgar's piety for his god, Odin. Silent Owl's own deity, Okeus, has granted him many visions, most notably that these "Swanukken" - sea people - would arrive. As a vitki, Wolfgar also has visions sent by Odin, but there are no conflicts between these deities. Wolfgar and Silent Owl conclude that their respective gods may be the same under different names. Others, however, view the intruders, particularly the holy man Wolfgar, as a threat to their own gods and, thus, their society.
While Wolfgar and his companions struggle to come to terms with their isolation, events at home - Greenland and Norway - are less amenable. In Greenland, Erik the Red has made a settlement, but it will stay with the traditional gods. He has sworn to keep the colony free of the intruder from the south. For this is a time of challenge by the Christians. Having taken over most of the British Isles, Christianity is challenging the old Norse gods. Conversions have been made in southern Norway, but the northern districts hold out. One adamant holdout is Wolfgar's son, Ragnar, who claims visions from Odin that his father is still alive somewhere. Ragnar's life takes its own serious turn when he's taken by Danish raiders. In Saxony, he's made a slave to a local lord, but a seriously ill child brings yet another twist to his life, and this story.
Norway, divided by gods, is ripe for unification. Olaf Trygvasson, born to a mother fugitive from Norwegian politics, has returned to the North Atlantic. Converted to Christianity by a miracle healing, he vows to bring both unity and the faith to his homeland. His methods are, to say the least, direct. He fills a dining hall with his enemies and sets the building afire. The object lesson isn't lost on other barons - especially when Olaf offers them a simple choice, convert or have their heads hacked off. The "loving Jesus" has a forceful emissary in Olaf, who continues his depredations against "heathen" gods by burning temples. His accompanying bishop is gleeful at Olaf's successes. The manner of conversion is unimportant to him.
Larson's handling of the issues of "faith" is supremely balanced. He plays no favourites among the gods, parcelling out miracles and special powers to each. The conflicts arising from the intrusions of new gods, particularly Christianity are deftly dealt with. He builds his characters around this theme well. When the Norse go a-viking, raiding towns and ships, these activities we usually consider as fundamental when we consider them during these times are mostly a side-light. Larson is to be congratulated for giving us a new image of the sea-faring Norsemen. [stephen a. haines - Ottawa, Canada]
Erik Thorvaldsson, called "the Red" returns after threes years of banishing to Iceland, in order to enlist settlers for his colony. In the year 985 he startet to sail with a fleet of 25. But only 14 ships should arrive at Greenland. On board of the lost ships were 350 men, women and children....
From the historical facts around the missing persons and other nameless men from Iceland, which already put their feet on "America", years before Leif Erikson, James Richard Larson develops a fantastic, quite conclusive story about his protagonist "Wulfgar". After the nordic seer and Priest has stranded with his ship "Raven", he and its people find friendly admission within the tribe of the Leni Lenape. But the "Swanukken" (algokin: Seawater people) are not equally welcomed to each of the "Skraelings" (oldnordic: "Weak men")....
....after years of waiting Wolfgars wife Katrine finally marries Bjarni Herjulfsson, which (after the Greenland Saga) is considered as a discoverer of "America", but who didn't set his feet on the continent and was therefore called "the Cautious". Ragnar Wulfgarsson is convinced of the fact, that his father is still alive and goes on board the "Sleipnir", Leif Erikssons longship....
....as it's third story the novel offers some of the delivered narrations around the Norwegian king Olaf Tryggvason ("Crowleg"), who in Larsons version grows up after his escape with his mother Astrid at the court of the Russian ruler Vladimir I. (Swjatoslawitsch) and finally returns after numerous adventures in Pommern, Southengland and Ireland to land of his royal ancestors.
Gradually the author leads the different stories, which stretches from North America to Russia, together, alt last in a fulminant final in the middle of the 990-decade. Beside already known persons from "The Eye Of Odin", with the more exciting sequal the reader makes the acquaintance with further strong characters. Very impressing is the intercultural meeting between Vikings and Indians, particularly the spiritual and ritual exchange between "Wolfgar" an his shaman-colleague "Silent Owl". The discriptions of the (in later times called) Delawares with their "Walum Olum" and their enemies, the "Susquehannocks", who called them "Barkeaters" are arousing associations to the novels of James Fenimor Cooper. Also this time Larson's second epos neither misses the typical black humor of it's genre or the question about religious tolerance. A central topic are the political considerations and methods that came along with bringing Christianity to the last heaths of Northern Europe, which often only offered the choice between "baptism or sword".
With "Wulfgar" Larson delivers again a fantastic Vikingsaga and historical novel, that in it's epic style of narration and it's historical content, stands in one line with such novels of James A. Michener or Gary Jennings. The new "high priest of the Asen" from Wisconsin proves, that also his second book belongs to the first class of the Vikingsnovels. Evaluated with 5 Amazonstars, in addition it also let's expect the already announced sequal "Vikings of The East" with impatience.
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