Ragnvald knew he would drown, and it would not be a terrible death, better than dying from the wound in his face. The cold had penetrated his body. It would not be long now. Then he felt something pull on his ankle, pulling him down into the deep, cold fjord. He was in a great hall and saw sea maidens who brought food and drink. The doors of the hall opened and a golden wolf came in. Ragnvald touched its fur and it was warm, so warm. He wanted to embrace the wolf, but something caught his ankle and he struggled against the hands that pulled him from the water. The story takes place in ninth century Norway, where many kings ruled over their small holdings. It is based on the saga of Harald Fairhair, written in the thirteenth century. Ragnvald is trying to avenge the wrongs of his stepfather. His sister, Svanhild, is escaping from an unwanted marriage. Ragnvald’s story is of blood-soaked battles and betrayals as it follows the path of Harald seeking to unite Norway. I much preferred Svanhild’s story, a story of a strong-willed woman, unwilling to submit and live as a farm wife. The book captures the mindset of a people who were accustomed to hardship and brutality and it is filled with scenes of the beautiful Norwegian landscape, the deep fjords, the majestic mountains. I liked it very much and am eagerly awaiting the second volume.
eGalley review Publication date 8.1.17