The Call of the Sea

Written by Sian Ann Bessey
Review by Susan McDuffie

Wales, 1141: The night before Rhiannon’s betrothal to a man she barely knows, strangers arrive at her father’s estate: Vikings seeking food and plunder. Rhiannon watches in horror as one of the Norsemen splits her father’s head with an axe. Norse chief Leif is unaccountably disturbed by his follower’s violent act. His distress leads him to learn more about Christianity once back in Dyflin (Dublin). The image of dark-haired Rhiannon also lingers in his mind. An orphaned Rhiannon takes up residence in the royal court of Owain Gwynedd. Two years later, a royal heir is murdered and the main suspect flees across the Irish Sea, seeking refuge with the Norse. This thrusts Leif into the maelstrom of Welsh politics and reunites him unexpectedly with Rhiannon.

This well-researched and unexpectedly plausible historical romance is a pleasure to read. Leif’s transformation from Norseman to Christian convert is believable, Rhiannon is a sympathetic heroine, and their romance feels realistic. The book gives a great sense of life to the fragmented Wales of the 12th century, and the interesting plot is based on a historical incident. Recommended.