Although there are many, the author does a great job to give them all their own distinct personality and their own roles to play in the story. Some are evil, some are too good and some leave you wondering where they fit in in the whole. Snorri Kristjansson is definitely a powerful new voice in the Fantasy scene, with a strong debut that will please fans of Vikings, mythology, strategy and action. Wow, wow. Vikings fighting vikings.
Vikings everywhere. Once the action starts, it doesn't relent until the last page. Great characterization. I'll offer more thorough comments when my review for the Historical Novel Review goes live. Until then, I recommend this to all Viking fiction fans, if you don't mind fantasy being thrown in. But I found the fantasy added to the authenticity, made it more true to the Viking mindset. I'll definitely be watching for book two.
View all 5 comments. Jul 10, Patremagne rated it liked it Shelves: historical-fiction , review-copy , fantasy. Jo Fletcher is a fairly new imprint for Quercus specializing in most of the speculative fiction genre. They also have a slew of authors who have debuted within the last few years with success, like Aidan Harte, Mazarkis Williams, Tom Pollock, and David Hair. He tells the story how it is, without flattery and overbearing detail.
Taking place in Norway, Swords of Good Men is much more historical fiction than it is fantasy, with the aspect of magic not appearing until the very end for the most part and in a supernatural way. Swords begins with Ulfar Thormodsson and his cousin Geiri on their way to Stenvik, the last stop on a journey throughout the world before they can return home. It feels real, down to the longhouse with barrel-chested men drinking mead and singing. The young King Olav Tryggvason, a Norse leader turned Christian, is moving west with his growing army in an attempt to bring the White Christ to the populace of Scandinavia.
Skargrim has gathered a huge force of raiders and are advancing on Stenvik from the north with some kind of witch at the helm, and outlaws come out of the woodwork to harass the town as well. Therein lies the biggest flaw of Swords of Good Men. Too many forces seem to be converging on this one small town. The book is split into many points of view, possibly too many, in order to help us keep track of all of these forces. If two of the main characters are in the same place, occasionally one paragraph would be spoken from one of them and the following one from the other, which made the story somewhat hard to follow.
Another problem with Swords was its length. It seems like a fairly standard story length for a debut at pages, and it went smoothly until the last quarter. Shit hit the fan and had me turning page after page, the book glued to my hands. I buzzed through the last few pages and found the next page to be blank. The book was over. Too much had happened in the last 5 pages for me to wrap my head around immediately, and I think that the book, with the multiple point of view writing style, would have benefited from an extra 50 or so pages to smooth things out.
Despite what it may seem like by reading this review, I actually did enjoy Swords of Good Men because it had some very real characters and great action, though there were some flaws and those should be expected from a debut author. View all 3 comments. Aug 30, Joel rated it liked it Shelves: hard-copy.
Swords of Good Men The Valhalla Saga Book 1 | Snorri Kristjansson
This is a really hard book to review - not because it wasn't a good book, but it was a bit schizophrenic as far as tone and consistency went. I'll start by saying that I've spoken with Snorri on reddit and other formats, and he's a super cool fellow, very smart, very personable. I liked my dealings with him a lot, and marked this book as a "to buy" from the start, and have no problem with my purchase.
Swords follows a number of Norse viking folks, all on the cusp of a large oncoming battle. The m This is a really hard book to review - not because it wasn't a good book, but it was a bit schizophrenic as far as tone and consistency went. The main characters are a group of Norsemen in the city of Stenvik, as well as an invading force lead by Skargrim sp? Don't have book in front of me! The story also follows King Olav, who has converted to Christianity and is leading a crusade of sorts.
All of these viewpoints and storylines end up intertwining very well for the most part, though some just kind of fizzle out pointlessly. More on that later. The book feels very, very much like a viking version of Legend. Obvious main characters, a big long leadup to an epic battle and siege. Lots of death on both sides, shenanigans, excellent battle planning and writing.
However, there's so much leadup to the battle that a lot of the other lines are lost in the fray. For example, a TON of time is spent early on in King Olav's war camp, in his preaching of Christ, in his taming of his followers. Much ado is made about him coming to Stenvik, about him trying to take over, or him fighting Skargrim's army in aid of Stenvik. Then the battle arrives, and his entire storyline is almost forgotten. He isn't written about for chapters, no advancement other than "ermagerd he's coming!!!!
It felt very hollow and unfulfilled. There was a lot I liked about Swords - the writing was pretty good, the dialogue was fun, free flowing and not awkward at all. A bit stiff at times, but very believable most of the time, and with some witty banter now and then that was very natural. The settings were interesting, a lot left to the imagination, and Snorri did a pretty good job of giving a viking "feel" without going overboard with horns and furs and such, which would have made it a bit cheesy. Many of the characters were unique, identifiable, relatable and enjoyable.
However, the up and down nature of the story, the abrupt resolution, and the fizzling of some of the storylines lead to a bit of disappointment towards the end. I would certainly recommend the book to people who like this sort of thing, and will continue to follow Snorri and his writings in the future, as he has a ton of potential.
However, Swords didn't quite hit on all cylinders for me. View 2 comments. A worthy 3. The action scenes were well-written and the characters well-developed. Swords, axes, spears, Vikings, and mead: all of the elements were in place.
Quite a bit of the story was left "to be continued," but the book was strong and I will be reading the rest of the trilogy. I wonder what was lost in the editing process. Overall, a good book for readers who like Viking- or medieval-themed battle fiction. At first I will admit it's not the historical for everyone. This is about war, fighting, a siege, death. You get the idea. Ulfar comes with his cousin to Stenvik. And he is not the only one. King Olav is coming there too, and others to plunder and kill.
But before that Ulfar falls for a mystery woman yes those things can never end well. And we gets to see the tension in the city. It was a brutal time after all. The raiders and King do not come at once. We get to see city life, the raiders planni At first I will admit it's not the historical for everyone. We get to see city life, the raiders planning and King Olav telling people his way or the highway. Yeah, I have never been a fan of those who say this religion is better, follow it or die. So I can't really be on his side then. Go back to your heathen ways Norway.
Ulfar, he was interesting. Because he starts of, not naive, but in a way yes. He grows and see the bloody side of things. It's not like he is a stranger to fighting but things will get messy in this town. Vikings as they were. A time of Thor vs White Christ. Tensions in society and like always, people doing things they should not do. And the end, rather evil wasn't it? I will not tell you but it certainly made me wonder what Ulfar is up to next. Swords of Good Men is a solid historical fantasy. Up until the last quarter of the books I was figuring on giving it 3 stars but the ending ramped things up.
I plan to read the next book soon. Jul 20, Paul rated it really liked it. It follows the journeys of a Viking and explores the stark, often brutal, time which he lived. Swords of Good Men, the latest publication from Jo Fletcher Books, covers similar thematic territory but goes that little bit further. Imagine a novel that offers insight into the nature of a proud warrior culture and how tribes managed on a day-to-day basis. The strong prosper and the weak suffer the consequences. Beset on all sides by forces that want to take control, the village chieftain also has to contend with internal power struggles.
As events swiftly begin to spiral out of control, conflict is inevitable. The writing on display has an evocative air.
Swords of Good Men
Be warned though, things get pretty damn graphic as the plot moves forward. There is a wonderfully savage chaos in the action scenes. Unsurprisingly, when violence does erupt, it is often swift and brutal. I know that war is a terrible thing, but I think the writing tapped directly into that primal bloodlust that resides somewhere in the dark recesses of my brain. There was part of me cheering when the Viking berserkers, The Twenty, arrived. When it comes to the battles, there is something wonderfully uncomplicated about it all.
There is no thought required only action, the rules are staggeringly simple: kill or be killed. As an effective counterpoint to all the mayhem of the battlefield, it was a nice surprise to discover that the novel also contains a plethora of more introspective moments. When characters are not engaged in trying to chop bits off of one another they ponder their existence.
How do they fit into the grand scheme of things? What is it that makes someone good or bad? Audun Arngrimsson, the blacksmith, is a good example of this duality. He is a hard-working, practical man. Initially, he appears content just to mind his own business, keep to himself and avoid any undue attention. When pushed to extremes however, the other side of his nature is revealed. The internal conflict that exists within Audun perfectly illustrates the internal conflict that exists within all warriors, longing for peace but relishing the unrestrained madness that comes only during war.
The other character I really enjoyed was the Viking captain, Eigill Jotunn. Anyone who knows a little Norse mythology will not be shocked to discover he is described as a huge, mountain of a man. The vicious meeting between Audun and Egill was the chaotic highlight of the novel for me. The arrival of the White Christ, and Christianity, also plays an important part in the narrative. Many generations of tradition and the Old Gods have suddenly been set aside for a new religion. Entire communities have been forced to change their beliefs or face the consequences.
When these differing theologies come crashing together like this, the results are as you would expect, bloody. The fantasy elements are handled very delicately. Kristjansson offers a suggestion of the fantastical at certain points throughout the narrative, but leaves these open to interpretation. I can imagine that this is going to prompt some vigorous reader debate. Some will undoubtedly relish the ambiguity in the writing, while others will probably loathe it.
Personally, I rather enjoyed this subtle approach. Once again, I find myself in the situation where another debut novel has blown me away. The writing is so self-assured. I was gripped from beginning to end, it feels like Kristjansson has been producing books like this for years. As an aside, I discovered that listening to the soundtrack for Game of Thrones season three while reading Swords of Good Men is a perfect accompaniment. This is the first book in The Valhalla Saga. I will most definitely be back for more.
Highly recommended. Aug 17, Jane rated it liked it Shelves: vikings , middle-ages , scandinavia , reviewed. King Olav to his general, Finn: "Conviction, Finn, is worth a thousand swords of good men. It's basically three plots which eventually merge into one: one involving a small trading village, Stenvik, on the southern coast of Scandinavia; another, a band of outlaws that have come by sea and are led by a woman exhibiting strange powers, calling herself Skuld, after the Norn of the future; and the third, involving King Ol King Olav to his general, Finn: "Conviction, Finn, is worth a thousand swords of good men.
It's basically three plots which eventually merge into one: one involving a small trading village, Stenvik, on the southern coast of Scandinavia; another, a band of outlaws that have come by sea and are led by a woman exhibiting strange powers, calling herself Skuld, after the Norn of the future; and the third, involving King Olav, who wishes to Christianize Scandinavia.
In Norse mythology Skuld is also a personification of Hel, the goddess of death, as this 'Skuld' shows towards the end of the novel. There are echoes of Egil's Saga , an Icelandic saga of 's and of Beowulf. Many of the names seem to be lifted from the first work, particularly variations on the name of Egill Skallagrimmson, an anti-hero.
Into Stenvik arrive two cousins, Geiri and Ulfar. The latter had been involved in a brawl in his hometown, paid wergeld [money in reparation for a serious injury or death] to the family of the man whose arm he broke, and has been exiled for a period of time. He is protecting his cousin on their travels. Their story will now be tied up with that of the town. The story is pretty straightforward: setup and introduction of characters; planning of attack and defense against enemies; and the actual siege and aftermath.
The ending was a bit melodramatic to me. It was easy reading. I thought it strange that only the people in the groups were given names. The people not in the groups were called by generic names only, e. Maybe this was a weak attempt on the author's part to differentiate? The Scandinavian names per se didn't confuse me, but the identities of the characters did, as well as who belonged with what group. And there were so many names thrown at me.
I got the idea there were several different factions both inside and outside the town who would clash at some point. I made a rough chart of who was with whom, to keep people straight. I had made such a list of the individuals for myself in Roman Wall: A Novel and that was very helpful. There were only three major women characters in this novel and I liked none of them. I thought there was too much skulking around before the real action began, slower at first, then faster and faster. The siege and strategy used was exciting. I feel the love interest was just thrown into the mix, though it was a motive for some of the final action.
Neither it nor the rest of the novel was badly written. I didn't like the way the story threw me quickly from one subplot to the other, some narrative lasting only a paragraph; it felt almost like the author was writing a screenplay. Some of the creative swear words made me laugh.
Oct 27, Mark Halse rated it really liked it. I read a lot of Viking books. A lot. Some are amazing adventures and still others are strange disappointments. This one started out a little strange. It was unconventionally written and wasn't your average Viking adventure. Once I got used to the rapid POV changes it proved to get stranger by the minute. But in a good way. Overall, it is a book about the old faith making one last stand against the white Christ's conquest of western society.
King Olav and a strange fairy bitch are converging on a I read a lot of Viking books. King Olav and a strange fairy bitch are converging on a town called Stenvik; a place that doesn't truly hold the old gods or the white Christ. The two leaders are racing to Stenvik to claim it for their respective faiths. But the town's jarl had his own idea. And it gets very bloody. Very entertaining and interesting.
Swords of Good Men
I recommend for historical fiction and fantasy fans both. Feb 09, Dee rated it liked it Shelves: not-quite-history , a-kind-of-magic , loanage , grit , actual-history. This is basically the Viking version of , full of epic acts of manly cunning and violence and manliness. It's full of richly drawn characters set in opposition to each other, and nicely written though I found the cinematic-style intercutting of sometimes very short scenes to be rather disruptive to a smooth reading experience. In that regard, it's probably a four-star book. However, there are only three female characters in the entire book: a woman in a man's job who's out-manning the men at This is basically the Viking version of , full of epic acts of manly cunning and violence and manliness.
However, there are only three female characters in the entire book: a woman in a man's job who's out-manning the men at it, a battered wife who is being rescued by a newly arrived warrior, and an evil enchantress. Out of curiosity, I looked up the history of King Olav who brought Norway forcibly to Christianity, and there was a note about a woman who refused to marry him if it meant giving up her own gods, was smacked for her temerity, and then proceeded to unify Olav's enemies against him.
That is a story I'm interested in reading. Just saying. Aug 26, Martin Owton rated it really liked it. I assume the rest of the stuff is historically accurate; and I'm certainly not going to argue authenticity with an Icelander whose veins flow with the blood of the Vikings. If this sounds dull then think again. With multiple viewpoints sometimes confusing in the early parts it builds the tension then shows the battle from all angles.
The writing style is straightforward and uncomplicated, the characters well delineated. A promising debut with a clear 'to be continued sign'. Vikings and their mythology. The battle scenes are a beauty to read; chaotic, frenetic, gory, and not always with the expected outcome, they should appeal to fans of heroic fantasy. Help Centre. My Wishlist Sign In Join. Be the first to write a review.
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