Sunday, January 17, 2016
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. It is a single story told in three parts… the Sons of Odin trilogy. I recommend reading them in order and close in time or you might lose track of the characters.
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 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 harsh 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 that 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—so it’s a 3-book commitment.
Buy on Amazon.
The next review will be of both book 2 and book 3, A Flame Put Out and Oath Breaker.
Note: Erin Riley will be a guest on my blog on January 21st! Do stop by to learn what’s behind her stories and comment to win book 1.