Tuesday, January 19, 2016

New Review: Erin Riley’s A FLAME PUT OUT and OATH BREAKER – Books 2 and 3 in Selia's Continuing Saga

A FLAME PUT OUT: Berserker’s Domestic Violence Snuffs out Love

Set in Norway in 876 and 883, this is book 2 in the Sons of Odin series and continues the story of Selia and Alrik begun in Odin’s Shadow. Soon after the story begins, Alrik goes a Viking, leaving his pregnant wife, Selia, in Norway where his brother, Ulfrik still wants her for his own. A thrall both brothers have had as their bed slave gives birth to a son that Alrik claims as his. Once Selia has her own child, she then has two to raise.

There no true “hero” in this story, only a violent, abusive man (Alrik) whose actions destroy his wife’s love. The heroine, from whose perspective the story is told, overcomes his abuse as best she can and, like any mother, tries to protect her children. When the violence threatens one of them, she flees, heading back home to Ireland and to Ulfrik, who told her he would help her no matter the cost.

Since this trilogy is really one story told in three parts, I recommend reading them in order and in close proximity so as not to lose the story thread.

The story is well written with some good secondary characters. The subject of domestic violence—albeit in the Viking age—is vividly portrayed. Riley does an excellent job of weaving in the history to this story of violence drawing upon the “berserker” tradition. The emotions are sometimes raw but very real.

An unusual Viking tale but a worthy one. Do read the three books in order and in close proximity: Odin's Shadow, A Flame Put Out and Oath Breaker. You need to get to book 3 for the happy ending.

New Review: Erin Riley’s OATH BREAKER – Last book in the 3-part Saga of an Irish Woman Wed to a Norse Berserker

This is book 3 in the continuing 9th century saga of Selia, an Irishwoman married by force to a Northman named Alrik who is a berserker. At the end of book 2, Selia had fled Norway and her husband’s abuse in order to protect her children. Now she finds herself on a ship sailing to Dublinn that is captained by a cruel one-eyed Norseman named Gunnar.

Selia is saved by Alrik’s half brother, Ulfrik, who takes her away to an island off the coast of Ireland for her safety. There, Selia comes to know this man who is also a berserker but has leaned to control his impulses.

Most of the story takes place on the island though there are a few scenes in Dublinn where Ulfrik goes for supplies and the end scene is in Norway. 

The island community is small but offers some interesting characters including those from book 2, such as Ingrid, Selia’s horrid stepdaughter, who, like Selia, is married to one man while loving another, and Selia’s brother who is Ingrid’s love interest. The two young sons that Selia brings to the island come to love Ulfrik as does Selia herself.

The island that served as inspiration
The story is well very told and very detailed in presenting the daily life of the island. While peace prevails there, danger lurks elsewhere as Alrik and an evil Norseman named Gunnar One-Eye stalk both Selia and Ingrid. Several exciting scenes and an angst-ridden finish make this a great end to the long saga.

Be sure and read all three books as one to get Selia’s full story.

Note: Erin Riley will be a guest on the blog on January 21st. Do come back to get her perspective and comment to win book one!

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