Thursday, January 8, 2015
New Review: Penelope Neri’s SEA JEWEL – Enemies Can be Lovers, A Classic Viking Saga Superbly Told
When her father rejects her because she is not the son he wanted, Freya vows to become a warrior who will lead her father’s men a-Viking. Her guardian, Sven, the skald who sees visions tells her that she will be taken in a raid by a great bear. And so she is. Alaric, called the great Bear, now leads his people in Britain north of Wessex. He captures Freya and vows to make her his thrall (slave) and take his vengeance. Oh, yes, he does that (this is a bodice ripper). But in the process, Alaric discovers the Viking maid he has taken has captured his heart. What is he to do when he is betrothed to another, one more worthy of a Saxon thane?
Neri writes very well and weaves a complex story that kept me turning pages. This is a classic sage and covers several years in Freya’s life, first a jarl’s daughter and a warrior, then a slave who wins respect, then freed to wed a man she counted as friend and then to find her true home and her greatest love. There are wonderful secondary characters, richly drawn: Robin the skald, entertainer and spy; Sven who became like a father to Freya; and Ilse who Freya rescued, both to love the same man. And so many others.
Rich in historical detail based on much research into the era, Neri brings alive the 9th century and the villages of Denmark, Wessex and Danelaw in Britain. And it is so well done—simply superb storytelling.