(Originally rated 2 stars)
It is 1036. Halfdan is a Viking mercenary who is determined to travel to Constantinople and become one of the Viking Guard serving Empress Zoe. He promises to take his daughter, but one morning Solveig wakes up to find him gone. Setting off in her own tiny boat, she is determined to make the journey from Norway to the breathtaking city. Her boat is washed up, but Solveig is undeterred. What awaits Solveig as she continues on her summer journey across the world? She finds passage with Viking traders, witnesses the immolation of a young slave girl and learns to fight. She sees the clashes between those who praise her Norse Gods and the new Christians. In this perilous and exciting world, a young girl alone could be quickly endangered or made a slave. Will Solveig live to see her father again, and if she survives, will she remain free? A glittering novel that explores friendship and betrayal, the father-daughter relationship, the clash of religions and the journey from childhood to adulthood.
As I have said in other posts, this is a book I reread only last week. It’s a slow-paced book that relies more on historical elements and atmosphere more than anything to move the story along, meaning it can be boring in parts.
I originally gave this book 2 stars as back in 2015 I thought the book was very boring with not a lot of wow factor (I had a kind of “Calling”, which I do get from time to time, to give this series another chance especially when I saw my library had the second book too 😛 ). While I still see not a lot of excitement in this story even now I’ve got to say I connected with the MC and the setting a lot better this time around than last time.
Firstly, the things I didn’t like. I found that very little happened throughout this book and the ending was quite predictable. The passages when it was just plain travelling I felt could have been made more colourful as this is fiction after all. It just described Solveig in her everyday travels doing everyday things like helping on the boat, going to the market etc. Sure there were the odd unusual things like the “ghost ships” and the arrow storm. But these could have had more spice in them, instead they almost sounded like everyday events (despite the death of quite an important character).
Also the passages with the other lesser characters could have been developed more and given more depth, so I thought. Instead I feel we don’t get to know them properly, neither them nor their relationship with Solveig. How did her friendships develop? And also I couldn’t grasp the full dynamics between the characters.
On to the things I did like, I will admit in this book I could connect more with Solveig I don’t know how but she felt more real this time around and it really did feel like she grew on her journey even if only a little.
I will also say I liked the historical descriptions and the clashes between the different religions more this time. Fair play the author has done his research and was apparently inspired by a name (Halfdan) scratched on a wall from long ago…. I also liked that despite there being many boring everyday parts, the book wasn’t very long and was quite well written (in a very rich way) so it flowed nicely.
I will most certainly read on in the saga and I’m not sure really why I liked this better this time around more than last, maybe i just went in it with a better attitude? 😛
Who I’d recommend this for
If you’re looking for bare-knuckled action then look away, but if you have a lot of patience and don’t mind poorly described characters matched with richly described settings, then this would be recommended. Not a lot might happen but I think this is a lot better than some of the other historical YA novels out there…