Series Review: (Hakon's Saga Series) by Eric Schumacher
Book review of Volume 1- God's Hammer
History and legend combine in the gripping tale of Hakon Haraldsson, a Christian boy who once fought for the High Seat of a Viking realm. It is 935 A.D. and the North is in turmoil. King Harald Fairhair has died, leaving the High Seat of the realm to his murderous son, Erik Bloodaxe. To solidify his claim, Erik ruthlessly disposes of all claimants to his throne, save one: his youngest brother Hakon. Erik's surviving enemies send a ship to Wessex, where the Christian King Athelstan is raising Hakon. Unable to avoid his fate, he returns to the Viking North to face his brother and claim his birthright, only to discover that victory will demand sacrifices beyond his wildest nightmares.
Available on Amazon.com: God's Hammer
In my historical readings of Vikings I had read albeit briefly about Hakon the Good but only in relation to Erik Bloodaxe coming to Northumbria and taking York.
Reading about Hakon gives this period a whole new angle. Not as much from the Saxons but from the impact Erik made to the feudal scandinavian realms before he came to Northumbria.
The author makes a valid point in his notes that Hakon is a rare type of scandinavian hero for a number of reasons that many people overlook or forget.
Firstly being a bastard son at the time he was the least likely son to ever claim the throne of early Norway.
Secondly being sent away to the court of Athelstan the first King of Engaland, it was doubted he would ever return to his homeland.
Thirdly the majority of his young life he was raised according to Saxon law and custom. He would have lost what little connection he had to the belief and ritual traditions of his pagan family and homeland.
Yet if Erik had not become known as the Kinslayer he would never have opened up a path or provided cause for the scandinavian people to summon Hakon to claim the throne.
However this happened when Hakon was quite young. When he had yet to test himself in battle.
So Hakon was sent back to an unfamiliar home, unfamiliar people and where his religion opposed their own.
Alliances would have been essential and critical for Hakon to form any kind of following in order to not only master an army against Erik but to also establish and prove himself worthy of being a King.
It is this great challenge but one of many that make Hakons rise to the throne so incredible it is almost unbelievable but it did happen. A Christian Norwegian Bastard Son somehow defeated his own brother and ruled a pagan country.
An amazing reversal of what Canute achieved when he finally won England back after his Fathers short reign only to convert to Christianity, marry the resident Norman Queen Emma and rule the Saxons for a peaceful 20+ years.
Hakon definitely seemed to have had the hardest population to manage compared to Canute.
It is definitely a historical figure that people should learn more about and so I do encourage and recommend this very enjoyable and at times moving depiction of Hakon's story.
Want to adventure throught the lands of the Vikings? The height of the Vikings is an amazing period of time and there is a lot of great fiction that is based on historical facts from that period and place. Rebecca Wilson has written a guide to the genre and to some of the best works in the genre.
If you are fascinated by the subject of Vikings you should check out her blog at: http://www.soulchaserbecky.blogspot.com/
You can follow her on Twitter @soulchaserbecky.
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