Wednesday, January 22, 2014

New Review: Erin Riley’s ODIN’S SHADOW – Great Storytelling in this first in a 3-Part Viking Saga!

This is Riley’s first novel and it’s a great one. Set in Ireland and Norway in 876, this is the story of Selia who, along with her twin brother Ainnileas, were found in the woods when they were two and raised by a kind Irish merchant. One day when Selia is 15, she decides to go to Dubhlinn (despite her family’s wishes) hoping to see the Finngalls, the warlike Vikingers and their ships. While Selia is watching the Finngalls, one of them, Alrik Ragnarson, is watching her.

Alrik follows her home and tells her father that she will come with him when he sails to Norway, either as his wife or as his thrall. Though her father is distraught, he would rather see her a wife than a slave and consents to the marriage. Alrik is a brute who at times can be vicious, and at times tender—definitely a disturbed individual. His Norwegian name is Alrik Blood Axe (sorta describes him well). Though Selia is small in stature and not much of a match for the powerful jarl, she finds Alrik attractive and thus endures his rough ways, trying all the while to avoid his temper.

On the way back to Norway, she develops a friendship with his half Irish brother Ulfrik, who teaches her the Norse language. Unlike his brother, Ulfrik has softer ways and seems more intelligent, more stable. He is aware of Alrik’s seeming madness when angered and tries to protect Selia.

When Selia learns Alrik has murdered children in the past, she tries to escape, unsuccessfully, and in the process, Alrik and Ulfrik learn a secret about who she really is, but neither tells Selia. Meanwhile, Selia suffers from spells where she remembers an attack she and her brother once experienced.

I found this story exciting and captivating. I could not put it down. It is well told and obviously based on solid research, which I so appreciate. Riley does not spare us the brutality of the Viking warriors who were quick to kill to take something they wanted. And her characters reflect her understanding of human psychology so there is great depth here. It is unusual story in that the tale does not end with this book, but continues on through the next two, but you can still enjoy this one while waiting for the next.

I highly recommend this story to all you Viking romance lovers. There’s no fantasy here, no paranormal and nothing modern to distract. It’s a pure authentic Viking saga and, in my opinion, great storytelling!

Note: Selia’s story is told in 3 parts and ODIN’S SHADOW is only the first. For the whole story, you’ll need to read the next two: A FLAME PUT OUT coming in late 2014 and OATH BREAKER coming in 2015. I'll be reading them, you can be certain!

If you like to plan ahead, Erin has agreed to be a guest on my blog next January when book 2 is out and we are again deep in Viking stories!

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