Swords of Good Men
Stenvik, the final stop on Ulfar’s journey back home, is under threat. Unbeknownst to its citizens, themselves Norse raiders, two armies are descending upon its walls. King Olav brings his soldiers and the White Christ to save the town from its heathen ways – or perish. Meanwhile, champions of the old gods, led by a bewitching woman, want the town for their own purposes. Ulfar finds himself not only helping in defending the town, but also embroiled in vicious power plays among the citizens themselves. What follows is an epic battle, with the armies mere pawns of greater powers.
Swords of Good Men is Snorri Kristjansson’s debut novel, book one of what promises to be a powerful epic fantasy series. It’s crammed full with Vikings. Vikings fighting Vikings. Vikings galore. Yet he is able to tease out of this violent setting a rich cast of characters. Ulfar is young and daring, but eager to get home. Audun is a blacksmith with darkness in his past. Lilia is beautiful and tragic. Harald is a brutal sea captain visited by the gods. Sven and Sigurd are old hands who do all they can to lead Stenvik’s defenses. Add in a Skagrim, Jorn, Ragnar, Valgard and so many more, and you’re steeped in the Viking world, complete with dreaded berserkers, witches with power over death, and beaches laden with longships.
Kristjansson takes the reader along at a breakneck speed, and it doesn’t let up until the final very end. And the ending, though satisfying, leaves the door open for yet more mayhem. I gladly recommend this book. It’s very bloody, as the cover and title promise. But I’m a prude when it comes to other mature content, and Swords of Good Men did not offend (well, too much). I eagerly await the next installment.