"Hakon took the kingdom into his own hands after the death of the previous ruler and exiled his sons instead of killing them as he was urged to do. (Maybe that was why he was called The Good)."
Viking 10th century
"It is 954 A.D. and a tempest is brewing in the North. Twenty summers before, Hakon Haraldsson wrested Norway’s throne from his murderous brother, Erik Bloodaxe, but he failed to rid himself of Erik’s family. Now the sons of Erik have come to reclaim Erik’s realm and avenge the wrong done to their father and their kin. They do not come alone. With them marches an army of sword-Danes sent by the Danish King, Harald Bluetooth, whose desire to expand his realm is as powerful as the lust for vengeance that pulses in the veins of Erik’s brood. Like storm-driven waves, the opposing forces collide in War King, the action-packed sequel to God’s Hammer and Raven’s Feast. "
This is the third book in the saga of Hakon the Good. I haven’t read the first two, but I had no difficulty reading this one and understanding what went before. Hakon took the kingdom into his own hands after the death of the previous ruler and exiled his sons instead of killing them as he was urged to do. (Maybe that was why he was called The Good). There was a price to be paid for such clemency. Battle scenes dominate as Hakon fights to maintain his position against the dispossessed sons supported by the Danes. Descriptions of wounds inflicted by various weapons in various ways are not for the faint-hearted.
Hakon is a Christian with his own priest and has to walk a careful path between his own beliefs and those of his pagan followers. Juxtaposed against gory battle scenes is a later-life love affair that blooms between him and Deidre, the daughter of one of his chiefs.
The book doesn’t spare us the violence of those days but I would have liked to see a little more detail about Viking ‘life’. However, it will appeal to those interested in Norse sagas and war in general.
© Susan Appleyard