Book review - The Viking Dead
Review by Becky
976 AD - Northern Europe. BjÓlf and the viking crew of the ship Hrafn flee up an unknown river after a bitter battle, only to find themselves in a bleak land of pestilence. The dead don't lie down, but become what the villagers call draugr - the undead - returning to feed on the flesh of their kin. Terrible stories are told of a dark castle in a hidden fjord, and of black ships that come raiding with invincible draugr berserkers. And no sooner has BjÓlf resolved to leave, than the black ships appear... Now stranded, his men cursed by the contagion of walking death, BjÓlf has one choice: fight his way through a forest teeming with zombies, invade the castle and find the secret of the horrific condition - or submit to an eternity of shambling, soulless undeath!
Available on Amazon.com in Paperback: The TOMES OF THE DEAD: Viking Dead
This book is the perfect blend of vikings, battle and zombies. Anyone who enjoys a good battle or two, or maybe three and can handle graphic descriptions and can sit comfortably as they read about man-eating zombies, man-eating zombie ravens, man-eating zombie wolves, man-eating zombie ants and oh did I forgot to mention a collection of man-eating decapitated zombie heads in a pit?? Well - yes this is the book for them!
It starts of well with a beautiful portrayal of the idilic viking farmers life and of course the boy who dreams of escaping it all and the only way of doing that is joining a crew and taking to the whale road.
However his wish doesn't come quite as he planned - first when he unexpectedly encounters one raiding party, another has already brutally murdered 99.9% of his village, his cowardly father who is exteremly suprstitious about dead people survives although everyone determines he's gone quite mad. Left with nothing to loot the later arrived warriors depart after being chased off by their brutal rivals, the Grimmsons, discover the young lad has stowed away with them.
What follows is a fog cursed race across the sea to escape the rivals only to end up quite lost at sea, have a strange encounter with a drowned sailor's arm (think of the hand from the Adams family but on a boat) and end of up in a land where death comes in the form of friend and foe alike, and more, as hinted at the start.
The nature of a vikings life fits well the characters as they struggle to understand what is going on in the strange land they find themselves beached at as well as survive with the few remaining locals. Eventually the warriors pull themselves together and vow to avenge all their fallen comrades in an endless battle through the zombie filled landscape to the source of the curse in a quest to stop it once and for all - even it if means death for themselves.
Everything up until that very point when victory is in their hands and the presumed culprit is lying maimed on the floor is brilliant - what isn't so good is the unconventional and uncomfortable way Toby Venables introduces a small 'sci-fi people from the future' aspect to the plot in order to explain why people have suddenly started rising from their graves to feast on the living. It is that which will urk some true historical viking fans who will quite happily believe vikings vs zombies but not vikings vs scientists from the future and a time machine they then use only to visit the future which is more zombie filled then they current past erm I mean present, well whatever era the story is set in.
But on the whole it is a very entertaining and sea gripping read, chapters are short, sweet and well packed with action and the characters have great depth to make the reader will them to survive against every zombie surge (although I must admitt the character of Atli tended to get forgotten towards the end but the leader of the crew Bjolf remains prominent all the way through.)
Definitely a worthy buy for those who like horror but with a bit of an unusual twist to the typical werewolves and vampires.
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