The Craw Trilogy by M.D. Lachlan
Wolfsangel (Book 1 of the Craw Trilogy)
The Viking king Authun leads his men on a raid against an Anglo-Saxon village. Men and women are killed indiscriminately, but Authun demands that no child be touched. He is acting on prophecy-a prophecy that tells him that the Saxons have stolen a child from the gods. If Authun, in turn, takes the child and raises him as an heir, the child will lead his people to glory.
But Authun discovers not one child, but twin baby boys. After ensuring that his faithful warriors, witnesses to what has happened, die during the raid, Authun takes the children and their mother home, back to the witches who live on the troll wall. And he places his destiny in their hands.
So begins a stunning multivolume fantasy epic that will take a werewolf from his beginnings as the heir to a brutal Viking king down through the ages. It is a journey that will see him hunt for his lost love through centuries and lives, and see the endless battle between the wolf, Odin, and Loki, the eternal trickster, spill over into countless bloody conflicts from our history and our lives.
This is the myth of the werewolf as it has never been told before and marks the beginning of an extraordinary new fantasy series.
Available on Amazon.com: Wolfsangel
This is a very darker depiction of the world the Vikings believed they lived in where magic was possible, witches lived in troll mountains, dying in battle was an honour and where the prophecies really did foretell events of the future. This epic tale begins with one such prophecy where Viking King Authen must follow the prophecies of the Witches to gain an heir to his throne. Yet like all magical forces, nothing ever happens the way it's meant to. In a daring raid that sees the death of his best and loyal warriors, King Authen finds himself not just with one boy but with two and it is the choices made at that moment that sees the boys split apart, live very different and conflicting lives that will see families, friends and even nations split apart as the endless battle between Odin, the god who has an endless hunger for magic and his nemesis, Fenris the Wolf (who will ultimately swallow Odin whole at Ragnarok-The-End-of-All-Things. It is a great piece of Norse fantasy set in a quite realistic Viking world with a fantastic twist on the origins of the Werewolf.
Fenrir (Book 2 of the Craw Trilogy)
The Vikings are laying siege to Paris. They want the Count's sister, in return they will spare the rest of the city. As houses on the banks of the Seine burn, a debate rages in the Cathedral on the walled island of the city proper. Can the Count really have ambitions to be Emperor of the Franks if he doesn't do everything he can to save his people? Can he call himself a man if he doesn t do everything he can to save his sister? His conscience demands one thing, the state demands another. The Count and the church are relying on the living saint, the blind and crippled Jehan of St. Germain, to enlist the aid of God and resolve the situation for them. But the Vikings have their own gods, and outside their camp, a terrifying brother and sister, priests of Odin, have their own agenda. An agenda of darkness and madness. And in the shadows a wolfman lurks. M. D. Lachlan's stunning epic of mad Gods, Vikings, and the myth of Fenrir, the wolf destined to kill Odin at Ragnarok, is a compelling mix of bloody horror, unlikely heroism, dangerous religion, and breathtaking action.
MD Lachlan is proving to have as deep an imagination as Tolkein showed in Lord of the Rings, with his mind blowing sequel to Wolfsangel with Fenrir.
The sequel may still feature more brotherhoods of Vikings but he has taken the reader into the world of the early medieval French dukes, knights and princesses and most notable of all, monks and prophets. But to add a little to the rabble of viking armies around Paris MD Lachlan introduces some fascinating characters of Munin and Hugnin, a brother and sister who worship the All Father and his madness through some very dark magic.
The over all story is riddled with patches of shadow, twilight, horror and glorious blood but in such a way as to not be overwhelming but always used to make particular characters at particular moments in the plot develope into something the reader never ever expects. And that is the true beauty of this dark tale of mad gods, powerful runes and never ending love - that even though the reader may think they know how things will work out having read Wolfsangel but Lachlan always proves those expectations to be false. The reincarnations of the two brothers, one wolfman, another werewolf are never who you expect them to be and in this one we get the suprise of the original Witch returning in a very unlikely place and it goes even more so for the form Odin chooses to live and die by.
My favourite parts of this new blood fuelled saga has to the scenes where certain character evoke the power of Odin's runes. Lachlan describes them so beautifully I can't help but wonder that the way he describes them is the same magic that flows within his imagination. The way the runes are called upon and used seems so natural it strengthens the readers mind view of the scene. And what makes it even more special is that such runes weren't used in such ways in the first book but in this sequel it seems all aspects of the doomed gods and lovers and the magic that binds them together has increased ten fold with dramatic and stunning effects in the ficitonal world and upon the reader.
And on that note the only thing left to say is that MD Lachlan has succeeded in making a sequel that dwarfs the original, showing the strength of his imagination in more ways than one. And making it a good bet that the third in this series will undoubtedly be fantastic.
Available on Amazon.com: Fenrir
Lord of Slaughter (Book 3 of the Craw Trilogy)
On a battlefield strewn with corpses, a ragged figure, dressed in wolfskin and intent on death, slips past the guards into the tent of the Emperor and draws his sword. The terrified citizens of Constantinople are plagued by mysterious sorcery. The wolves outside the city are howling. A young boy had traded the lives of his family for power. And a Christian scholar, fleeing with his pregnant wife from her enraged father, must track down the magic threatening his world. All paths lead to the squalid and filthy prison deep below the city, where a man who believes he is a wolf lies chained, and the spirits of the dead are waking. The Norsemen camped outside the city have their own legends, of the wolf who will kill the gods, but no true Christian could believe such a thing. And yet it is clear to Loys that Ragnarok is coming. Will he be prepared to sacrifice his life, his position, his wife and his unborn child for a god he doesn't believe in? And deep in the earth, the wolfman howls...
Each time I dive into the mad, bloody and frightening world Mark has created involving psychotic gods, beastly murders and damned love I wonder if, with each sequel he writers to Wolfsangel, he himself is being taken over by the hanged god Odin with all his insatiable appatite for fates to be twisted and sealed. If this is the case, it does clearly show in this third installment of a series that yet to has any kind of official name oddly enough, but like the god Odin himself, fans may know it by many names.
I am very pleased to say that there is another very strong Viking presence in this lengthly saga - although I'm still wondering, as the centuries role by, how Mark will ever evade the presence of a norse warrior if these old gods and their schemes are to progress.
The best part though is that this nordic tale is performed in a very un-norse like land, that of Constantinople (aka Istanbul) or Miklagard 'Great City' as the vikings would have known it. And it does still have some grounding in the previous book, which took place in and around Paris, in that the central characters are mainly Norman. Almost-civilised descendants of vikings who settled and founded Normandy after a deal with a Frankish King to get them to go away, ironically enough.
I can't say for other readers but due to the complex beauty of Mark's plot and theme I did often try to work out, before I was even half way, who was the wolf-man, who was the man-wolf, who was the unlucky woman in all of this and who indeed would turn into a one-eyed dude waiving a spear. But of course Mark wouldn't let it be that easy, at least not in the first half, as there are definitely more characters entwined than the previous two which did blurr things a bit. After the half way point I gave up guessing and started repeating the mantra 'it will all make sense in the end' which it did with some relief. An end which had the build-up of a hundred earthquakes and the eruptive force of a hundred volcanoes in drama, tension, horror and the most important aspect of all - death!
It's the way his writing grips you despite the gore, the misery, the pain and the horror, you can't not turn the next page to learn if anyone survived and it's why I read the second half in one sitting and didn't finish it till midnight.
Fans of the first two will definitely not be disappointed with this third episode and I amongst them will be scratching my head hard with puzzlement and excitement as to how Mark will follow this up; as this ending, although the prophecy was fulfilled, it did leave a few loose threads in his tapestry of cursed fate, that will bring fresh life and indeed blood, I hope, in his next book.
Available on Amazon.com: Lord of Slaughter
Valkyrie's Song -
M.D. Lachlan's brooding and powerful tales of Vikings, Norse gods and werewolves have already won praise from, amongst others, Joe Abercrombie, Adam Roberts, Mike Carey and Chris Wooding.
With an original and terrifying take on magic, an ability to bring the Norse gods to vivid life on the page, a keen historical eye and a knack for fast-moving and brutally effective plots, M.D. Lachlan's series has won over critics, fellow authors and readers alike.
VALKYRIE'S SONG moves the action to Norman England and the Harrowing of the North. An immortal wolf and an immortal woman are on the run, fighting for their lives. They carry a magic within them, runes which flare with power when brought together. But others hold runes of their own, and the runes desire to be united.
And when they are, Ragnarok will come.
Available on Amazon.com: Valkyries Song
A deliciously gory, grim and gripping dark Norse fantasy set in the bloodiest era of English history. The overall tone may be black but it makes the characters shine like stars and the danger sizzle with tension. Compared to the previous 3 books I would say this is my favourite due to the focus on the simple yet the savage cost of survival. Whether it is with or without the magic of runes. It is also a closer and more intimate maybe even sympathetic look at the character that is Wolf-Cursed. Yet the story also cunningly causes the Reader to will the fate of the gods to be fulfilled as I personally didn't want the true Villain (not the one you may think of during reading) to succeed for it would be worse for the wolf.
Certainly looking forward to seeing which historical turmoil this grim saga continues to unravel...
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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