God of Vengeance

Written by Giles Kristian
Review by Nancy Henshaw

Sigurd has been deserted by the gods. His father, Jarl Harald, and his kinsmen have perished in an almighty sea battle fuelled by the double treachery of King Gorm and Jarl Randver. Harald’s splendid mead hall and land have been despoiled, his wife and his people murdered. At 17 Sigurd is a hunted fugitive, his sister enslaved. Six of his comrades have survived, and they are joined by Crow’s Wing, the skald, and the godi Asgot. Sigurd will force recognition from the gods who have shunned him. Emulating Odin the Allfather, starving, freezing, hanging from a tree in agony, he endures six days and nights, sustained by the godi’s dream-inducing potions. The gods acknowledge him, and now his purpose is revenge.

Life is worth little as he scours land and sea for men or women like himself who value honour above all. Leaving a trail of blood, he now has 15 men and one woman, a true shield maiden. Nothing is spared of the reality of the ensuing implacably violent and bloody encounters, but there are some wonderful characters who will surely engage any reader’s support, especially Olaf the veteran: he surveys the results of mayhem; spilled guts, severed limbs and heads with indifference or contempt. In times past when he was a boy, Vikings really were Vikings. Glorious, always apposite metaphors and similes are rewarding reminders of the natural beauty of Norway. This novel is of a higher calibre than the entertaining Blood Eye and a spectacular success.