The Varangian: Book Three of Odd Tangle-Hair’s Saga

Written by Bruce Macbain
Review by Justin M. Lindsay

Odd comes to Miklagard – the Norse name for Constantinople – with the sole purpose of seeking out Harald, a former friend turned nemesis, and killing him. However, just as he had feared, not only is Harald the seemingly indomitable warrior he always was, but he’s become thoroughly ensconced in the city’s Varangian Guard. These doughty warriors are all of Norse or Rus stock, fearsome, and oathsworn to the Emperor. Harald is one of their officers. Through reluctant intriguing and (un)lucky contacts in the court, Odd gets tangled not only with the deadly scheming of Byzantine politics and power-brokering, but also finds himself among the Varangian ranks. As always, he must keep his wits about him to stay alive, determine what he must do with Harald, and somehow carve a new life out for himself on these distance shores.

This is the third and final of Macbain’s Odd Tangle-Hair novels. All three have been spellbinding in their storytelling, though this one may be the best. Odd’s journey takes us around the Mediterranean and eastern European world, and all the way north back to Iceland. The characters are wonderful, the story intriguing, the combat real but never superfluous, and Odd makes for the perfect protagonist. Highly recommended.