Wolves around the Throne (Wolves of Odin Book 4)

Written by S.J.A. Turney
Review by Nicky Moxey

This is the fourth in Simon Turney’s Wolves of Odin Viking series but could easily be read as a standalone. In it we briefly encounter the young William of Normandy, newly come to his dukedom, broadening its appeal to people who are interested in the ex-Viking Normans and the man who invaded England as well as in the exploits of the Wolves. This rollicking good story – Turney is an excellent storyteller – also has my favourite ingredient of a book which has taken me back in time: a historical note explaining what was real, and where the author bent the known history a bit; not a lot, in this case!

The Wolves have been tasked with safely delivering an unwilling noblewoman to her Norman kinsman in time for her wedding. The shifting and bloody politics of the time are excitingly portrayed; there is a sufficiency of blood and gore, and Jarl Halfdan has some tricky political manoeuvring to do. It doesn’t help that the bride-to-be has no intention of helping… Halfdan is relieved when William the Bastard turns up, just as the seer Gunnhild had foretold, and helping the young underdog proves the right thing to do. (I would like to know very much more about Gunnhild; I hope she gets a book to herself at some point!)

The joy of the story for me, though, was Ulfr’s tales of the sea and his crafting of a longship, the Sea Dragon, just in time to get the band, plus Archbishop Aelfric, away from the siege of William’s stronghold at Falaise. I am following the reconstruction of the Sutton Hoo longship, from several hundred years earlier, with interest; I often go and watch the craftsmen at work, and it was thrilling to read about Ulfr’s construction path from timber to launch. Turney promises at least two more in this series, and I for one will be waiting impatiently for them.