Odin’s Game (The Whale Road Chronicles)

Written by Tim Hodkinson
Review by Lisa Redmond

Odin’s Game is the first in a new series from Tim Hodkinson. The book opens in 916 as a young woman flees the Orkney Isles for her own safety and that of her unborn child. Eighteen years later in Iceland, Unn has made a comfortable life for herself and her son Einar, but when Einar is outlawed and forced to flee, she tells him to seek out his uncle, the infamous ‘Skull Cleaver’ Jarl Thorfinn of Orkney.

Under Thorfinn’s command, Einar is sent to Ireland and learns to fight with both axe and sword. He also realises that he is merely a pawn in a deadly game as jarls and kings from Norway, Orkney and Ireland vie for control, power and wealth. Making friends amongst the Wolf Coat warriors, men who fight to the death for the glory of the Norse God Odin, and also with a beautiful and dangerous Irish princess called Affreca, Einar finds adventure, action, danger and the power within himself to overcome enemies on every side.

This is a fast-paced, detailed and brilliantly written historical adventure which will appeal to fans of Bernard Cornwell, George R R Martin, and especially Theodore Brun. It brings to life many aspects of 10th-century society, religion, politics and daily life in Orkney, Ireland and Iceland, highlighting similarities and differences and the precariousness of life in a time of war, raids and constant violence. In particular the detail of religious differences between Pagans and Christians in this period of transition makes it stand out from the crowd.