Forged By Iron (Olaf’s Saga)

Written by Eric Schumacher
Review by J. Lynn Else

“Oaths are like iron, Torgil,” whispered my father… “You cannot break them. To do so is to bring shame to you and your name. See that you keep it.”

Norway, AD 960. Torgil has sworn an oath to protect Prince Olaf. But after Olaf’s father is killed and their home is attacked, 12-year-old Torgil and 8-year-old Olaf find themselves on the run. Their last hope is to reach the home of Olaf’s uncle, but the journey is long. Accompanying the boys are Torgil’s father, Olaf’s mother, and two female servants. As they race across land and sea, powerful enemies are never far behind. And with each harrowing step, Torgil’s oath becomes more and more difficult to keep.

Based on the Saga of King Olaf, the landscape and culture come alive with Schumacher’s strong imagery and fine details. Young Torgil isn’t happy by how the fates have tied him to Olaf and is constantly challenged (both emotionally and physically) by the oath made to their fathers. The two are often at odds, Torgil being more thoughtful and patient while Olaf is brash and impulsive. The tumultuous relationship adds an additional layer of tension to an already fast-paced plot. The boys live within a brutal society, particularly when the slavers come into play. However, elements are recounted in a way that isn’t overwhelming for readers. With the stakes constantly on high, Forged by Iron is a story that’s hard to put down. I look forward to more from this series. Schumacher has a talent for creating character-driven stories nestled within a historically rich setting.