Raven’s Feast: Hakon’s Saga, Book 2

Written by Eric Schumacher
Review by Anna Belfrage

Very rarely does one come across a book written about the man remembered as Hakon the Good or Hakon Adalsteinsfostre. As Mr Schumacher points out in his afterword, this may be because we know so very little about him—beyond concluding he must have been quite the forceful young lad, seeing as he was only 15 when he claimed the Norwegian crown and defeated his substantially older brother, Erik Bloodaxe.

When Raven’s Feast opens, Hakon has just defeated Erik and been acclaimed as king. But bringing peace and stability is not an easy process, and soon enough it seems Hakon’s dreams of a united kingdom will unravel as quickly as a nightmare dissipates at dawn. Other than rebellious jarls and ambitious Danes, there is also the issue of faith: Hakon has been raised as a Christian at the court of his foster father, King Athelstan, and wishes to convert his pagan countrymen. They are less than thrilled…

Mr Schumacher has used what little we know and filled in the rather huge gaps quite plausibly, delivering an exciting read about a very young king attempting to hold on to a kingdom cracking wide open. Hakon is an engaging and likeable young man, and the prose is fluid and the dialogue crisp—if at times very modern. At times, pace flags due to the detailed descriptions of everything from interiors to food, but all in all this is a book that should appeal to all those gripped by Viking fever—and quite a few others as well.