The Swan’s Road
Harald, son of Cnute, King of England, Denmark and Norway, sails for Rome. With him are his father, his father’s housecarls, and his own best friends. When their drakkars are blown off course, they decide to make their way south along the Rhine. This diversion sets in motion an epic adventure for Harald. In rescuing the beautiful Selia of Frisia, he finds himself in deadly combat with the brutal retainers of Duke Robert of Normandy—or as he was better known then, Robert the Devil. Forced overland to catch up with his father’s river journey, Harald and his companions must flee Robert’s men and somehow find his father in time to warn him of an impending assassination attempt. But not only is his father’s life at risk—so is the very crown of England.
The Swan’s Road is aptly named; fidelity and love, a theme running through the novel, are symbolized by the swan. Harald’s journey from brash youth to a wiser and blooded man is believable. It’s a good romp down through the center of Europe, with a cast of characters and setting that are rich enough in detail to keep the reader engaged. Pettersen takes many liberties with the historic characters and timelines—too many for this reviewer—so the reader shouldn’t go into it with the belief that they’re getting much of a history lesson. Nevertheless, it’s a worthy debut novel—a good adventure tale fraught with love, betrayal, bloody combat, sacrifice, and painful decisions that will change the course of history.