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The Half-Drowned King: A Novel

The Half-Drowned King: A Novel


The Half-Drowned King: A Novel

evaluări:
4/5 (20 evaluări)
Lungime:
15 hours
Lansat:
Aug 1, 2017
ISBN:
9780062683656
Format:
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Descriere

An exhilarating saga of the Vikings that conjures a brutal, superstitious, and thrilling ninth-century world and the birth of a kingdom—the debut installment in a historical literary trilogy that combines the bold imagination and sweeping narrative power of Game of Thrones, Vikings, and Outlander.

Centuries ago, in a blood-soaked land ruled by legendary gods and warring men, a prophecy foretold of a high king who would come to reign over all of the north. . . .

Ragnvald Eysteinsson, the son and grandson of kings, grew up believing that he would one day take his dead father's place as chief of his family's lands. But, sailing home from a raiding trip to Ireland, the young warrior is betrayed and left for dead by men in the pay of his greedy stepfather, Olaf. Rescued by a fisherman, Ragnvald is determined to have revenge for his stepfather's betrayal, claim his birthright and the woman he loves, and rescue his beloved sister Svanhild. Opportunity may lie with Harald of Vestfold, the strong young Norse warrior rumored to be the prophesied king. Ragnvald pledges his sword to King Harald, a choice that will hold enormous consequence in the years to come.

While Ragnvald's duty is to fight—and even die—for his honor, Svanhild must make an advantageous marriage, though her adventurous spirit yearns to see the world. Her stepfather, Olaf, has arranged a husband for her—a hard old man she neither loves nor desires. When the chance to escape Olaf's cruelty comes at the hands of her brother's arch rival, the shrewd young woman is forced to make a heartbreaking choice: family or freedom.

Set in a mystical and violent world defined by honor, loyalty, deceit, passion, and courage, The Half-Drowned King is an electrifying adventure that breathtakingly illuminates the Viking world and the birth of Scandinavia.

Lansat:
Aug 1, 2017
ISBN:
9780062683656
Format:
Carte audio

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Despre autor

Linnea Hartsuyker can trace her family lineage back to the first king of Norway, and this inspired her to write her debut novel, her trilogy about the Vikings. Linnea grew up in the woods outside Ithaca, New York, studied engineering at Cornell University, and later received an MFA in creative writing from New York University. She lives in New Hampshire with her husband.

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  • (4/5)
    A book that delivered on what it promised: a good adventure, nice characters, credible dialogues and a narration style that reminded me of “ The Long Ships”, the classic story about Vikings. I liked that the characters are not black and white and that their reactions are sometimes unpredictable. A nice story, quite entertaining.
  • (2/5)
    On returning to Norway with Solvi Hunthiofsson’s ships after a season’s raiding in Ireland, Ragnvald Eysteinsson narrowly escapes with his life when Solvi unexpectedly tries to kill him. He later learns that Ragnvald’s stepfather has ordered his murder in order to claim Ragnvald’s birthright, the hall at Ardal and the surrounding lands. Ragnvald becomes sworn to Hakon, king of Halogaland, and performs valuable services to Harald, king of Vestfold, who is being hailed as the king to unite all of Norway under one crown. Meanwhile Ragnvald’s sister Svanhild is dismayed at the prospect of being married off against her will, as she’d rather go adventuring with her brother and exploring new shores, and so she takes her future into her own hands. Will the fates reunite brother and sister, or will they position them on opposite sides in the struggles for power?This is the first volume in a new trilogy set in Viking-age Scandinavia, written by one of Harald Fairhair’s descendants, and it is being hailed as a Viking Game of Thrones by the publisher’s PR department. Don’t let yourself be taken in by the promise of a ‘literary Viking epic’ – the book falls far short of its potential. The problem with being compared to Game of Thrones is that the book will be compared to Game of Thrones, if you get my meaning, and will fail to reach the standard set by one of the world’s most successful series. Game of Thrones (the TV series, as I’m not familiar with the books) makes for compelling viewing, and I feel myself drawn into the narrative and the characters’ stories sometimes almost against my will: here are master storytellers at work that know how to engage their audience. In contrast, the characters in The Half-Drowned King are pale figures in a colourful yet hostile landscape (with the exception of Solvi); the pace throughout the book’s 420+ pages hardly varies, so that a duel, a battle or a fight with a draugr appears matched in pace to a section describing domestic chores in Ardal’s hall or the legal intricacies of the midsummer gathering; the dialogue is wooden, to say the least; and the narrative is flat in the extreme and almost entirely devoid of the lyrical quality that is associated with Scandinavian hero sagas and skalds’ songs, though there are occasional flashes to remind the reader of what could have been. As one other reviewer has said, we’re told of the songs, but we don’t hear them. Several times throughout the book the author likens the plot to the sagas and songs of the age, and there’s no doubt that she wants this book to be one of them; the truth is that Ragnvald, and to some degree Svanhild too, is being talked up to be a hero of songs by the characters surrounding him but I myself can’t see it, and his rise to prominence and favour has me unconvinced – I’ve been more invested in characters’ fates and developments in works of non-fiction.Additionally, for a book that’s described as being suitable for readers of ‘historical fiction and epic fantasy’, there are virtually no fantasy elements embedded in the story, with hardly any evidence of Scandinavia’s rich heritage of myths and legends and the creatures found in Norse mythology, like trolls, giants and sprites. Where Linnea Hartsuyker succeeds is in creating a bygone age in which petty kings struggle for power, where raiding and fighting are not only a way of life but a philosophy, and where women often have to make hard choices, all set in an often harsh and unforgiving climate. Reading about personal struggles and sacrifices, about honour and blood ties among the country of mountains, fjords and dragon ships should have been a thrilling reading experience, but it was anything but, and in the end I wanted to finish the book for all the wrong reasons. Disappointing. Not surprisingly I won’t bother with any of the sequels.(This review was written for Amazon's Vine programme.)
  • (4/5)

    1 person found this helpful

    I picked up this book because I love historic fiction and I was trying to find a book to get me into the mood for a trip to Iceland. And although none of the characters actually ever set foot on Iceland, the descriptions of life as a Norse Viking was an entertaining introduction into some of the Icelandic culture. The book is set in a Norway that is still governed by a fierce group of Viking kings. It appears like a lawless society, with plenty of raids on innocent farmers and Irish priests, but there was a strong code of honor and even a rule of law that the most ferocious Viking upheld. The story is a classic one of a power struggle to rule Norway, with plenty of alliances forged and broken, and of course, lots of treachery. Think of it like a Game of Thrones but with Vikings. Good plot and a fun romp through a very colorful time and place.

    1 person found this helpful

  • (3/5)

    1 person found this helpful

    Novel of 9th century Vikings--what was unusual was showing their life on shore, mostly as farmers, and emphasizing women's lives. The protagonist, Ragnvald, is thrown overboard and is rescued by a fisherman. He has a vision of a "golden wolf" which he later feels is King Harald, who wants to unite and rule all of Norway. Ragnvald wants to kill his stepfather, who has stolen his patrimony. His sister, Svanhild, to escape an unwanted marriage to a much older man, runs away and goes to sea with her husband, archrival of her brother. Novel was interesting, showing another side of Vikings, but nothing special. This was the first in a projected trilogy, using one of the old sagas as a starting point.

    1 person found this helpful

  • (4/5)

    1 person found this helpful

    Early history of Norwegian life, at the time of small kingdoms, and little unification. I learned a lot of background and history, told from the viewpoint of Ragnvald-the brother-trying to reclaim his land, while protecting his sister--Svanhold. Lots of wars and sea battles described, which got somewhat tedious, but realistically was a major part of the Nordic history. First part of a trilogy, and I'm looking forward to the subsequent books.

    1 person found this helpful

  • (4/5)
    This historical fiction work (first in a planned trilogy) takes place in ninth-century Norway. The author points out in a note at the end of the book that her own work was inspired by a saga written in the 13th Century about this period. She took the basic outlines and expanded them with her imagination. She cautions readers however not to look up the stories in Wikipedia in order to avoid spoilers for future books.I enjoyed the book, but not as much as I had hoped. My main problem was with its hero, twenty-year-old Ragnvald, the “half-drowned king.” In addition to exhibiting the same unsavory characteristics of most of the other men in this story, such as the lack of respect for, and egregious treatment of, women, Ragnvald is also a total jerk in general. His sworn enemy Solvi, on the other hand, who is the chosen mate of his sister Svanhild, is not without fault but seems charming and considerate by comparison. But alas, Solvi is only a side character.Ragnvald’s fate, it seems to him - thanks to a vision he had while almost drowning - is to serve Harald, who is still 16 in this book, and who is trying, with the help of his Uncle Guthorm, one of many local kings in the area, to unite Norway under his rule. Harald’s mother, Ronhild, is a reputed sorceress who had the conveniently self-serving vision that her son would be king of all Norse lands. The populace is superstitious enough to put great weight in such predictions.The story proceeds through a series of battles on both land and sea as local kings support different factions amassing for and against Harald.Discussion: There is a certain lack of historical depth to the story. Except for the fact that resolving affronts to honor or ambition was done by actual killing of one another, I didn’t get much of a feel for the times. A bunch of men trying to outdo one another in an arena perceived as “manly” could be anywhere, at any time. In addition, there are many slaves in this story who are identified only as “thralls,” the women of the group primarily serving as sexual outlets for the men, and the men as worker bees. Otherwise, they are totally faceless. This seems like socially sanctioned exploitation and rape on a mass scale; how did this come about and how did the victims feel about it? The author doesn’t tell us; her main focus is on the bratty boys and bitter men at the top of the food chain. Thank heavens for Svanhild, age 15, who plays a strong supporting role in the story. She is determined not to marry an older man she doesn’t love solely to satisfy her stepfather. She longs to participate in adventures at sea instead of being stuck with stereotypical female roles. She’s smarter than her years, resourceful, and way more mature than her older brother. She makes the book worth reading, and this series worth following.Evaluation: In spite of my dislike of the main (male) character, I was very much taken with the main female character, and plan to continue with the series.
  • (4/5)

    1 person found this helpful

    When I read the description for this book my first thought was “Gimme!”, for a couple of reasons. I’ve done a lot of family genealogical research & was intrigued to find that some of my dodgy ancestors began life in Norway before taking a wrong turn & landing on the shores of Scotland in the 15th century. Men…just will not ask for directions. But suddenly I understood why I’ve always wanted a helmet with horns. It’s genetic.The other thing that caught my eye were comparisons made to “Game of Thrones”, “Vikings” & “Outlander”, 3 epic tales that sweep you off your feet & drop you firmly in the muck & mayhem of the past. More on this later.In this first of a trilogy, we’re introduced to Ragnvald Eysteinsson & his sister Svanhild. The story begins with Ragnvald aboard a ship that is returning home from a raid. Instead of a warm welcome, someone tries to kill him on orders from his stepfather Olaf. Ragnvald stands to inherit a sizeable inheritance from his deceased father but Olaf has other plans. It’s a pivotal moment that sets in motion everything that follows as Ragnvald seeks to regain his birthright & give Svanhild a better life. The story is based on sagas of King Harald that were written in the 13th century & it’s obvious the author has done extensive research. Settings are atmospheric & rich in cultural detail. You gain a great sense of how these people lived & what they believed. This is the book’s strong point & what I enjoyed most. Unfortunately, the main characters fared less well. There is something missing that I have trouble putting my finger on…depth or passion…that prevents them from becoming fully fleshed out. My other issue was with pacing. You’d expect a bit of a roller coaster, ranging from the mundane of everyday life to epic battles but oddly enough there’s not much difference between how these are portrayed. Maybe that’s the point. Whether you’re having dinner or engaged in swordplay, it’s all in a day’s work if you’re a viking.Hence the problem with comparing it to the 3 series above. Because of the bold & colourful characters in those stories, you become deeply invested in their fates & feel a range of emotion that places you firmly in the grip of the narrative. Here, due to the author’s impressive knowledge of period detail, the setting often outshines the characters. I was also hoping for the inclusion of more Norse mythology as it was a significant influence on their belief system but that’s a minor personal quibble.As always, it comes down to what you look for in a story & there are plenty of readers (and fans of the series mentioned above) who have given this high marks. So if you’re in the mood for some old fashioned raiding, give it a go. The good news is there are 2 more in the works. Oh, and the helmets? Turns out there’s next to no evidence any self respecting viking would’ve been caught dead in one. Great….anyone want to buy a set of horns?

    1 person found this helpful