Viking (Two Kings Trilogy, Book 1)
Book One in the Two Kings Trilogy begins in Northumbria, 841 CE, with a Viking raid on an English village. The destitute village has nothing to lose but slaves, so Marcus escorts his sister to safety and returns, supposedly to join the fight. Instead, he hides in a small cellar which he and his sister used three years before. During that raid their mother was taken as a slave. Feeling guilty and ashamed about just trying to stay alive, Marcus hears footsteps above. The trapdoor opens to reveal a young Viking.
Ulv is sure, before the raid begins, that he is dead! Although protected by Loke, he isn’t a warrior and isn’t particularly adept with weapons. He stabs an old man who gets in his way, setting off the lethal fury of a berserk who wanted the kill. Ulv fortuitously finds the cellar. When the raiders fire the thatch, Ulv escapes to the ships with Marcus as his thrall. Both young men soon realise that Ulv has unwittingly killed Marcus’s father, which throws a different light on their relationship. Ulv is now personally indebted to Marcus and their fates inextricably entwined. The ships head to Ireland as Marcus and Ulv become separated.
I enjoyed this well-written tale. It’s exciting, immersive, fast-paced, and timely with the recent interest in Viking history. Historical details of time and place portray interesting information about Viking warriors, their lifestyle, dress, custom, and weapons. My only query is on marketing it to teens, as it will appeal enormously to the 9-12 age category, particularly boys. The graphic content is restrained, perhaps more than necessary. The ending is such a cliff-hanger that readers will want the sequel by their side to find out the fate of Ulv and Marcus. An adventurous read with more characters’ stories to reveal.