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Oct 16

Review: Raven: Blood Eye

Raven: Blood EyeRaven: Blood Eye by Giles Kristian

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve been feeling in a pretty historical mood for a while now, thinking about my family’s lineage which stretches back to the Norsemen of Denmark (specifically a place called Nyland); so when I saw this on the shelf in Waterstone’s, I thought it would be worth a go. I’m incredibly glad I made that decision!

When I read that this was a book about ‘Vikings’, I was hoping it wouldn’t just be a hack-and-slash adventure, with 400 pages of nothing but slaughter and pillaging. I was richly rewarded in that regard, because this book has just the right amount of pillaging and slaughter, along with a fantastic storyline following the exploits of one teenage boy without a past who gets caught up with a mighty jarl from across the sea.

During the story, the main character has to figure out not only what he cares about and where his loyalties lie; but also who he is. I really like this element, as you join the character in his obliviousness, and share the enjoyment of every discovery.

The writer’s Nordic background lends a wonderful realism to the writing; slipping in enough idiosyncrasies to keep the Norse flavour, but not so much that someone with no previous knowledge of the subject matter would be lost along the way. Kristian has clearly done extensive research into the exploits of the Norsemen in Britain, and writes of the politics of the time (which haven’t changed much over hundreds of years, when you think about it!)

Reading this book has inspired me to go on a sort of pilgrimage to Nyland to see where the family line began. When you look at it on Google Maps, it’s not hard to see why they decided to leave! It seems to be just a scrap of mud with some rocks on it! The green fields of Holland and Britain (which my ancestors decided to rape and pillage as part of their “shopping spree”) look much nicer by comparison!

This is a very well-written and colourful beginning to what I trust will be a gripping saga. I’ve already bought the second instalment, Sons of Thunder, and am eagerly awaiting the reading of it. I’d recommend this book to anyone with even a passing interest in socio-political history, or who loves a good character-driven adventure story. From start to finish, this book kept me interested and yearning for more!

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Mr Llamatastic

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