Reviews for The half-drowned king : a novel

Library Journal
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Ragnvald Eysteinsson, descendant of kings, is betrayed and left for dead by his captain, Solvi, on their return voyage from raiding in Ireland. After Ragnvald recovers from his near drowning, he discovers that Solvi, now his sworn enemy, was in cahoots with his treacherous stepfather Olaf, who wanted his land and thralls. Knowing he will never regain his heritage without killing Olaf, the young man pledges his sword to King Harald, who promises to aid him. In the meantime, believing Ragnvald to be dead, Solvi journeys to Olaf's holdings where he meets Svanhild, the bold sister of Ragnvald. Despite knowing him to be her brother's enemy, she agrees to marry Solvi. Not content to sit at home spinning and tending the land while her husband goes a-Viking, she casts aside the strictures of her time and travels with him on his trading and pillaging route through the fjords and beyond. -VERDICT Making her fiction debut, Hartsuyker, who claims descent from Norway's first king, writes an absolutely top-notch Viking saga, and readers will eagerly await the next two volumes in this trilogy. [See Prepub Alert, 2/27/17; library marketing.]-Jane Henriksen Baird, Anchorage P.L., AK © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

*Starred Review* In mid-ninth-century Norway, power was dispersed among many petty kingdoms, while sea-kings gained wealth and status through plunder. Chronicling the time that saw Harald Fairhair's rise as eventual king of a united Norway, Hartsuyker's terrific historical epic, first in a projected trilogy, beautifully evokes the period and the mind-set of its warring peoples. After his stepfather's attempt on his life fails, Ragnvald Eysteinsson pursues revenge and a plan to regain his hereditary lands while finding his place amid the Norse kings' shifting alliances and blood feuds. Meanwhile, his teenage sister, Svanhild, too strong-minded to be a peace-weaver bride, moves through challenging emotional territory after evading an unwanted marriage. Posing thoughtful questions about the nature of honor and heroism, and devoting significant attention to women's lives, the novel takes a fresh approach to the Viking-adventure genre. Hartsuyker also shows how the glorious deeds in skaldic songs can differ from their subjects' lived experiences. The multifaceted characters are believable products of their era yet relatable to modern readers; the rugged beauty of Norway's farmlands and coastal landscapes likewise comes alive. The language is clear and eloquent, and the action scenes will have the blood humming in your veins. This is how tales from the old sagas should be told.--Johnson, Sarah Copyright 2017 Booklist


School Library Journal
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In the ninth century, in the northern lands we now call Norway, lived fighting men who warred with one another and raided the southern lands. On the way home from one of these raids, Ragnvald Eysteinsson is unexpectedly attacked by Solvi, his convoy leader, and left for dead. Saved by a local fisherman, Ragnvald returns to his homeland, intent on revenge. He is also determined to demand his birthright from his stepfather, Olaf, and to make a good match for his sister Svanhild. When Olaf chooses a man Svanhild despises, she runs away in desperation only to be caught by Solvi, her brother's nemesis. Chapters alternate between the brother and sister, of whom custom demands much. Ragnvald must align with others in order to defeat Olaf, gain his kingdom, and exact his revenge, while Svanhild has to choose between her brother and his sworn enemy. Ragnvald and Svanhild bring Old Norse legends to life, immersing readers in the fjords and valleys of the north. A solid beginning to a saga well grounded in the culture of its time. VERDICT Hartsuyker's novel should attract those who enjoy "The Lord of the Rings" or other fantasies that draw heavily from Scandinavian and Northern European legend and culture.-Connie Williams, Petaluma Public Library, CA © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Publishers Weekly
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In her first novel, Hartsuyker brings to life the savage world of the Viking warriors of ninth-century Norway. Ragnvald Eysteinsson is on his way home from a raiding expedition across the North Atlantic when he is betrayed by his captain, Solvi Hunthiofsson, and flung overboard. Rescued by a fisherman, Ragnvald eventually returns home to his beloved sister, Svanhild, who is miserably betrothed to an older man, Thorkell. The source of both their unhappiness is their stepfather, Olaf Ottarsson, who plotted to have Ragnvald killed and Svanhild married off. Exposing his stepfather, Ragnvald goes off to fight alongside Harald Halfdansson, the future king of Norway. At the same time, strong-willed Svanhild finds escape in the form of Solvi, the self-confessed instrument of her brother's betrayal, who takes her as his latest bride. But Solvi is a sworn enemy of Harald, so what will happen when Ragnvald ultimately meets his brother-in-law in combat? The author, who can trace her lineage back to Harald Halfdansson, recreates the half-civilized, half-primitive landscape of his time, where a dragon boat sailing up a fjord struck dread in all who saw it. Befitting its subject matter, the book is replete with exciting battles, duels, and sieges, but the author makes Svanhild's domestic tribulations equally dramatic. In the end, this novel can stand proudly with Edison Marshall's The Viking and Frans G. Bengtsson's The Long Ships as an immersive fictional recreation of a bloody moment in Scandinavian history. Agent: Julie Barer, the Book Group. (Aug.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Library Journal
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Inspired by the Icelandic sagas, this action-packed first volume in a planned trilogy will transport readers to Viking Norway, where Ragnvald battles his treacherous stepfather in order to claim his true birthright after his father's death. Meanwhile, Ragnvald's sister Svanhild seeks a marriage that will give her the freedom she craves despite the era's restrictive social roles for women. An adventurous summer read, in which vivid historical detail meets a fast-moving plot. (LJ 4/1/17) © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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