Book review - The Swan Road by Angeline Hawkes
Review by Becky
Life in 10th century Norway is a challenge for man and beast. The sea, or the swan road, as it is known, plays a vital part in existence. For Tore Nordahldatr life is a constant struggle as she rages against who she is and who she wishes she could be. When a blood payment is demanded and the chieftain, Hablock Bloodaxe, is gone to sea, chaos ensues as a blood-thirsty rival family takes matters into their own hands. To escape slaughter, Tore must disguise herself as a young man until her brother Ulf can return from sea with Bloodaxe to set matters straight. Things go from bad to worse when Tore takes a sword sacred to the god, Tyr. She appeals to the goddess Sif for protection, but Sif's bargaining with Tyr dangerously thrusts Tore into the world of men in a way not even she could imagine. Living as Eirik the Silent Graafell, Tore must prove herself worthy of the sword through battle to escape Tyr's wrath. Even if Tore can fulfill her bargain with the gods, dealing with Ulf will be another challenge as he is dead-set on vengeance no matter who gets in his way.
Available on Amazon.com: The Swan Road
The Swan Road leads the reader deep into the viking lifestyle and mindset of the dark ages and reveals the depth of values such as honour, courage and kinship as experienced by a young fiesty Norwegian woman.
The saga is of fantastic complexity and detail that really plunges the reader into the action with intense connections to all the characters involved. Making the reader love, hate and care for each character alike in a plot filled with as many twists and turns as a piece of jelling style carved stonework.
In a way the plot reminds me of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night as The Swan Road too involved a sister and brother, much a like, but whilst the brother is away raiding with the local Jarl, the sister bears witness to the brutal murder of their family in a revenge killing and only escapes being captured and killed herself by chopping her hair and donning the attributes and dress of a young norse man. Thankfully she is already powerful in physical strength and swordsmanship to pass such a disguise successfully. However things do not go as simple as she wishes when she unknowingly offends the Gods and is set a challenge it will take all her emotional strength and dertermination to complete without having her gender discovered and her life forfiet. The challenge will take several years, voyages across the seas, friends will be made and enemies created, blood of innocents will be shed and hearts will be broken before Ture will finally regain her identity, freedom and peace.
The story is told from a third person perspective although the reader won't notice as much until from half way through the story where the narrator allows glimpses into other characters minds to show how they percieve this female warrior in disguise and all the danger it brings. I sometimes wonder if the story might be even more powerful if told from the first person perspective instead.
This story really shows that viking women were no maidens afraid of dirt and blood and they were just as strong if not strong than their male counterparts when it came to defending their homes, family and loved ones and more importantly fighting to survive using whatever method is necessary. This is a great battle cry for female independence in a world where men always held the positions of power.
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.
Related Fantasy Guides:
- Return to the Viking Main Page
- Norse Fantasy books. Check out the guide here
- and Viking Historical novels, recommendations and reviews here