The eleventh century—a violent time of conquest and crusade in the name of Christianity. Through the eyes of a gotterdammerung pagan enfiefed to an ‘irreligionist’ warrior, Michael Hickins explores man’s faith in the inexplicable as a defence against fear—fear of death, of anarchy, of being alone and vulnerable. At seven feet tall, both skilled and lucky, warrior Blomqvist the Black considers himself the measure of all standards. “Religion insults me and insults all men,” he says as he prepares to trek across the known world to rescue his betrothed, blind to the contradiction he presents.
Readers for whom faith is a given should enjoy the allegories of this book, as should those who do not flinch from the blood and gore of sieges, battles, murders, and famine. Villains and victims abound, as does treachery, the pagan and the betrothed both contributing their share. The writing style is disjointed, appropriately so; the typos and slip-ups are disappointing (a man who dies on p. 117 speaks up on four ensuing pages). Overall, though, Blomqvist is a satisfactory, thought-provoking read—a cross between Candide and Don Quixote. Recommended, but only for those ready for the philosophical challenge.