Fin Gall

Written by James L. Nelson
Review by Cindy Vallar

Finding a gold crown encrusted with jewels and amber should be cause to celebrate, but worries plague Thorgrim Night Wolf. His jarl and father-in-law helps him bury the treasure before they sail to Dubh-linn to sell the rest of their plunder. His foreboding only worsens once they arrive at the longphort. A Dane now rules instead of the Norse, and when he finds Danish treasure aboard the Norse long ship, Thorgrim and his comrades are imprisoned. There they are tortured for information because the Dane plans to intercept the Crown of the Three Kingdoms before it reaches the high king of Tara.

After the thrall, Morrigan tends to their wounds, she helps Thorgim and his friends escape because her brother knows they intercepted the crown. But for some of these Vikings, they merely exchange one prison for another. Her brother seizes the wounded and gives Thorgrim an ultimatum: take Morrigan to the crown and help her return it to its rightful place, or the wounded Norsemen, including his son, will die. The task requires all of Thorgrim’s intelligence and skills, for others in Ireland seek the crown, including someone who believes the crown should be in another’s hands, rather than those of the high king of Tara.

Like a true Irish seanchaí, Nelson spins an intricate web of the lore and culture of the Norse with the history of Ireland. His Vikings come alive as they travel the sea and traverse a strange land and, in doing so, destroy the stereotype history has provided readers. We find ourselves sitting on the edge of our seats, biting our nails or holding our breath as we enter a brutal world where hope survives, even as Norse, Danes and Irish intrigue and betray.