Jan. 26th, 2017

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4. Blood Will Follow by Snorri Kristjansson

Second book in the Valhalla Saga. I reviewed Swords of Good Men a couple of years back. It was just OK for most of the way through but then got really interesting at the end.

This book picks up shortly after the battle at Stenvik which closes the first novel, and follows the two protagonists as they deal with having become immortal in their different ways. Odin takes an interest. Meanwhile, the sinister healer heads to Trondheim to find the source of the northerners' power.

This book is much better. It's still got multiple POV characters and strands, but it doesn't jump between them in as awkward a way as the first book did. The parts set in the north (land of the Sami, magic, and weirdness even to the Norsemen) are very good indeed. Nothing profound here, just good fun.

Now I can get on and read volume 3, which I somehow managed to acquire before this one, and has been sitting around waiting for me for ages.


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5. The Last Kingdom by Bernard Cornwell

I'd not heard of this series until it was filmed by the BBC last year. I thoroughly enjoyed the adaptation and grabbed the book when the Kindle edition was cheap.

I still haven't worked out whether Cornwell is a terrible writer or he just does Uhtred's voice very well. (When your narrator is a barely-literate 9th-century warrior, it's kind of hard to tell). Either way, I found it very hard to put down. For those of you not familiar with the story, Uhtred is born into a Northumbrian noble family, his father is killed in a Viking raid and he is taken captive by a Danish family. But he is valuable to the Danes even though his uncle has taken over his lands, and the Danes like, him, so they treat him like a son. As an adult he goes to Wessex & serves Alfred the Great in the hope of one day getting his lands back. It's mostly about fighting and becoming a proper warrior - the exact sort of thing I don't usually like.

On the one hand, it's been a long time since I read something this easy and pulpy. On the other hand, a lot of serious writers get their history & culture less right than Cornwell. I hesitate to recommend it, because there really is not a lot to it, but I loved it and had to stop myself downloading the second book right away. (Must finish the Shardlake series and the Falco books before I start on another historical series).


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