Monday 2 October 2017

Raider's Wake by James L. Nelson

Amazon UK  £3.19 £10.41
Amazon US $12.99
Amazon CA $17.53

This title is shortlisted for the October Book of the Month

Nautical adventure

Book 6 The Norsemen Saga

Book six of The Norsemen Saga begins with the return of Conandil, who appears in an earlier volume. No longer a thrall, she is married to an Irish chieftain’s son. When Irish raiders attack their ringfort, she and her husband, as well as others, are driven to the beach where they are beset from the sea by Norsemen. Rather than become a slave again, she fights with her husband. But one of the Vikings thwarts her desire for a quick death and she is once again bound for the slave pens in Dubh-linn. There she, her husband, and the other captives are sold to a Frisian merchant who plans to sell them at a slave market in his homeland.

Lord of Vík-ló, Thorgrim Ulfsson is sick of Ireland, the Irish, and the eternal rain that plagues the country. Most of his men, including his son Harald Broadarm and beserker Starri Deathless, imbibe liberally when confined, so once the sun finally deigns to shine, Thorgrim announces it’s time to go a-viking. As his four longships prepare to set sail, he makes the unconscious decision to take their hoard with them. He has no intention of returning. Their first capture goes precisely as planned, but the victim is known to Thorgrim and is permitted to continue on his journey. First, though, he imparts knowledge of a Frisian merchant with three ships rumoured to be heavily laden with treasure. Expecting these to be easy prey, Thorgrim and his men decide to lie in wait – but no one knows better than he that the gods can be fickle and one should never tempt fate…

Raider’s Wake is a welcome return to the sea, where Thorgrim once again demonstrates why Norsemen are remembered for their expert seamanship. What makes this an unforgettable and very believable tale are Nelson’s knowledge of and experience in sailing wooden ships. The nautical language adds a healthy dose of realism, but Nelson writes in a way that readers unfamiliar with the terminology still get the gist of what the sailors are doing. For those who wish to better understand, he provides a diagram of a longship and a glossary.

Although Harald Broadarm has played important roles in previous titles, he finally comes into his own in this one. He has matured over the series and has ably demonstrated both his bravery and skill at fighting. Yet now he finds himself in a command situation where his decisions and knowledge play a vital role in determining the fates of those aboard all the vessels.

Another crucial story element is the inclusion of two Irish women, Conandil and Failend. Rather than being mere window dressing, they are well-drawn characters who play critical warrior roles and they possess the determination to influence their own fates. As a result, Thorgrim makes some keen observations about women – ones that all men could learn from.
From first page to last, Raider’s Wake is written by a master weaver who keeps readers spellbound and places them on the longship in the midst of the Vikings.

This adventure is one treasure to savour and as memorable as, or even more so, than the Norsemen’s previous stories.
Very Highly recommended

© 2017 Cindy Vallar

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