Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Harald Hardrada in book trilogy

The last couple of years I've read a lot of British historical fiction with action from the Viking Age: Bernard Cornwell, Robert Low (my favourite), Giles Kristian, Tim Severin and others. For a Norwegian (used to the Scandinavian heroic view on the Vikings) it is very revealing to get the Viking Age interpreted from a British and often English perspective.

Among the many professional authors there are also some indie authors writing from the Viking Age, and here on my blog I've previously reviewed A.H. Gray and now Peter C. Whitaker.


  The War Wolf (The Sorrow Song Trilogy #1)The War Wolf by Peter C. Whitaker
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The historical fiction novel The War Wolf is the first in a trilogy about the events in England in 1066. In The War Wolf the author, Peter C Whitaker, tells the captivating story of The Battle of Fulford, which marked the beginning of an extremely consequential chain of events that would change the history of England and the World.

According to the author, the Battle of Fulford Gate is the forgotten battle, overshadowed by the more famous battles of Stamford and Hastings. The Battle of Fulford is nevertheless an important part of history and its outcome was important for the following actions and events. In the battle Harald Hardrada and a huge Norwegian army crushed a Northumbrian army lead by Eorl Edwin and Eorl Morcar.

In the novel we meet King Harald Hardrada (the war wolf), the Northumbrian earls Edwin and Morcar, the brothers (and enemies) Tostig and Harold Godwinson (King of England) and a lot of other historical and fictional characters, with the Northumbrian commander Coenred as the most important of the fictional characters.

A great number of characters is usually no problem in a book, but when many persons are made into point-of-view characters, such as in The War Wolf, this may be demanding on the reader. At least this reader finds the many POV characters and frequent shifts of perspective rather problematic, especially since so many of the shifts are done with little warning or indication as to whom is now thinking and perceiving. I often miss a central point of view from which the story is told and find the third-person narrator is only one of a plethora of perspectives fighting for prominence.

The writer often uses long sentences that usually runs smoothly, but when such sentences are brought into the dialogue, I feel the dialogues rather stilted.

This said, most of the descriptions of weather, landscape, weapons and fighting is engaging and after some time you get to know the characters. As the story unfolds (and you get used to the strange shifts in perspectives) the events take you and the books becomes very exciting. The description of the Battle Fulford is very engaging and all in all The War Wolf offers a good read. I look forward to the second book in the trilogy. I guess that book will be about the Battle of Stamford Bridge.

Harald Hardrada dies at the Battle of Stamford Bridge
Harald Hardrada dies at the Battle of Stamford Bridge

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1 comment:

  1. Many thanks for the review John, I will consider your comments for my future writing projects.