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on 14 December 2017
This has everything the rest of the series has, except a likeable protagonist. Sounds daft, but in fact that mattered. The history was gripping in all its unusual detail (a lot of this is set in viking Ireland, not a common setting for such books). There was a fine story, and a couple of stand-out characters. The writing was excellent, as Low always is. But the fact that you don't like young Olaf (and clearly are not meant to) means that your engagement and excitement over what happens, the struggles and battles, is curtailed, leaching off a lot of the pleasure. Wouldn't have missed it, the last of the series, but I can't pretend I enjoyed it as much as the others.
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 23 September 2012
At last, Robert Low has gone back to "doing" Vikings, and this one is a treat because it is different. The previous volumes of the Oathsworn were rather focused on Orm and Finn, his right-hand man. We do get to see a bit of them, but they tend to take second place. This is because this book is mostly about the early years as a young warlord of Olaf Tryggvasson, who would become what he is shown to want so much in the book: one of the most fearsome Battle Kings of Norway - feared, but not loved.

One of the most interesting features of this book is the drawing of Olaf's somewhat complex character. Deep down, he is scarred by his youth during which his parents were slaughtered and he was made into a slave. He knows fear but overcomes it through force of will, bravery and ever recklessness. He also becomes cunning, cruel, ferocious and rather unscrupulous, to say the least. By and large, he is anything but a "nice" character, but then he would not survived very long if he had been. Another related feature which I found most interesting is the implicit and explicit comparisons that Low has his readers make. If you have read the other books in the series (or even if you haven't for that matter), the contrasts and similarities between Orm and Olaf are striking, with the former being wary, although not afraid, of the latter's recklessness and somewhat paranoid behaviours, whereas Olaf becomes little by little to becomes colder and less human.

Another great feature is the depiction of some of the other characters that we come across, and who seem and feel real, regardless of what they really were like, and this is something that we will probably never know anyway. These include the old Viking King of Dublin and his sons, with Sigurd who would be among the warlords defeated at Clontarf more than 30 years later, without forgetting his wife of whom we will probably learn quite a bit more in Robert Low's next instalment. We also have the last son of Eric BloodAxe, his fearsome which of a mother and his two henchmen, including a psychopath of a youth who happens to be a very gifted killer. The fictitious characters are just as good and the historical ones with all of them coming to life.

A third (or is the fourth?) element which I particularly liked was the kind of guided tour through the Viking World of the 10th century that Robert Low takes us through in this volume. All is accurate and well-researched, at least as far as I can tell, from the last stronghold of the Khazars on the Black Sea, to Norway, Ireland, the Isle of Man, the last stronghold of the Picts and the Jarl of the Orkneys. The quest for Odin's Daughter, a magical Battleaxe that brings both power and ultimate doom to all of its owners, feels like a Viking version of the Quest of the Grail, with all its treachery and violence. The final climax, up in "Finmark" and then in the Orkneys, is as brutal and violent as you can expect and rather well done, even if not entirely a surprise. It also includes the hint that we will be having more of the Oasthsworn in future as Orm and his men sails to Ireland to attempt to win back his wife.

All is all, a superb read on the same high standard as all of the previous books in the series. I lapped it all up as fast as possible, loved every minute of it, and I am still asking for more...
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on 2 March 2016
I didn't like this book.
Too little Jarl Orm & Finn, hardly a beserker in sight; too many parallel plots and characters going on. At times the story gets disjointed, and you're left going back through pages for what you've missed.
Too much Crowbone (guess the title says it all); and his blasted stories (whilst mercifully shorter) now come at the most unrealistic of moments. Too little raiding, too little Odin, too little of the meat & bones of the previous books.
From reading other positive reviews I guess the writer was trying to put things in historical perspective, and and give us a 'tour' of the Viking kings of Ireland, I'm told; but for a casual reader of Low's cracking Viking stories, this missed the mark as much as the earlier books hit it.
Struggled to finish it, skipped pages, and didn't like it one bit.
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on 5 September 2013
Having previously read (and loved) the Oathsworn series I could barely wait for this book to be released, as by the time I'd finished them I felt like Orm and the crew were old friends, and Low's wonderfully vivid style, peppered with his own "kennings" is like Cornwell++ for those with a background knowledge of Norse and Old English culture: the text hits you like the slap of cold rain on your face.

In this book, we see Crowbone the creepy kid breaking out on his own, sent off to ride his own learning curve by an older, wiser Orm. Where there's rumour of a powerful artifact and powerful people competing over it, you know who you're expecting at the bottom of it and, sure enough, the dreaded Martin of Hammaburg turns up...

After tripping up on his own pride and arrogance a number of times through this journey into the eldritch wilderness of the Finnmark, Crowbone begins to learn his lesson to grow into an increasingly credible candidate for the crown of Norway. But at what price?

The one very minor criticism I'd have (from a wider view of Low's books) is that Low's style seems not quite so well suited to third-person narrative as it is to first-person accounts. It just never seems to flow as fluently and has a somewhat staccato feel to it when he writes in the third person. But that might just be a personal preference...
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on 19 March 2013
The Oathsworn saga is, on many levels, excellent and while this book stands up well it is not quite as good as the others. I feel this is due to three main reasons:

- It is a times confusing. There are too many characters and as they all have Nordic names it is not easy to quickly identify them especially with three different main groups on the same quest. Whilst the author has tried to avoid this with section headings identifying the time and the crew in the action taking place he does not always succeed

- Crowbone whilst growing in stature does not command the presence of Orm and none of the new characters can match Finn for sheer bravado and excitement.

- The fact that the story is told in the third person rather than through the eyes of Orm as in the previous books. OK, I know Orm is not a main character in this story and so this would not have been possible but it does not have the same flow as before ....or perhaps it just took me longer to get into it

Saying that there are many positives:

- The depth of knowledge of the period and the research taken to acquire it is, as ever, first class

- It is strong on atmosphere with a true taste of the time and places in which it is set. You feel the cold and damp as the Oathsworn do - does the sun ever shine in the North?

- It is another really good fast paced story from an enthusiastic, intelligent writer

- The blood and gore of the previous books is never lacking

- The weaselly priest Martin is still causing problems

So, go read it and if you haven't already done so read the other books in the series - you will be glad you did.
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on 17 December 2013
Crowbone is the latest book in the series telling the saga of Orm Bear Slayer and his Oathsworn, including Olaf Tryggvasson, known as Crowbone, who is intent on recovering the artefact known as Odin's Daughter, the axe used by Eric Bloodaxe. This is an excellent read, in my opinion. For those unfamiliar with the work of Robert Low, he has a tendency to use original dialect (often without translation); initially this can - it was for me! - be a bit annoying; however, I recommend perseverance. It will pay dividends in the end.

As it happens, I have a not yet opened copy of Bernard Cornwell's The Pagan Lord on my bedside table - that's how good Robert Low is!
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on 4 September 2014
I have enjoyed all the Oathsworn books, I must say the Whale Road is still my favourite, it still makes me shiver when I think how well it described the cold sailing these people had to endure. But I dont like the character Crowbone, otherwise 5 stars as usual for Robert Low. If I was with the Oathsworn I would have stabbed the little git in the back very early in the story
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on 3 August 2015
Was thrilled to discover a fifth book in the Oathsworn series and Crowbone did not disappoint. A well worked plot with just the right mix of intrigue, suspense, mindless violence, magic and humour. Robert Low brings the Viking world alive in a thoroughly credible way. Really hoping there'll be a sixth Oathsworn novel soon.
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on 30 September 2017
I found it difficult to "get in to" after The Oathsworn series. Crowbone is not a character that one can relate to , unlike Orm in the original series. The way the scenarios jump around has been done better in other novels.Having said that, the book improves at the half way mark and is in the end a good read.
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on 29 January 2018
I enjoyed parts of this book, but those were mainly when Orm and Finn were there. Too many parallel stories, not enough fighting and a bit confusing at times. Came good in the end though....What's next, Crowbone or Orm?
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