Saturday, January 10, 2015

New Review: Emma Merritt’s VIKING CAPTIVE – Engaging even if sometimes unlikely Viking Tale

Though no date is given, this story is likely set in the early 11th century when the Norse made voyages to the new world (the author’s note seemed to confirm this).

Kelda, Viking woman of the Norse and adopted daughter of Thoruald, one of their jarls, leads a mission to the new world to find her chief’s child, born nearly thirty years ago to an Iroquois woman Thoruald married and left behind when he sailed for home. (A half Norse boy, recently taken by the Vikings in a raid upon the new world, wears an arm band Thoruald gave his Indian wife and the Norse jarl believes the boy is his grandson, hence Kelda’s mission.) Upon their arrival, Kelda and her warriors are seized by the Iroquois who want vengeance for the last Viking raid two years ago.

Thoruald’s son, now Chief Brander of the Iroquois, wants nothing to do with his Nordic father or the Norsemen who killed his Iroquois wife and daughters before stealing his young son, but he will take the Viking woman Kelda as his slave for vengeance.

Merritt portrayed well the two cultures warring within Brander causing him great angst even as his Iroquois mother pleaded for him to embrace who he was. The heroine, however, was somewhat confusing. She could be smart and brave one minute and turn to mush the next.

Effectively raped by her captor (a forced seduction), our Viking heroine nevertheless decides Brander has “captured her heart.” While Kelda occasionally gets angry, those incidents seemed like minor fits compared to her overwhelming physical attraction for Brander. Still, she manages to hatch a plot that will bring all her warriors and Brander back to Norway.

Merritt has obviously done considerable research into the Viking way of life and did a great job of showing us the culture and travel on a Viking dragon ship. And the story was intriguing…a Viking encounter with the Iroquois Indians of the new world. All that was to the good. But some improbable moments and a heroine who at times lacked a backbone detracted.

Despite the negatives, I still found the story engaging, and for fans of Merritt, the detractions I noted may be insignificant. I am a fan of her work and she can certainly tell a good story.

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