If you’re feeling disgusted with modern day politics and all the dysfunction in government, reading history, including historical fiction, is an excellent way to gain a little perspective.  However bad things are these days, for the most part they were worse in the past.  And if you’re a fan of the kind of betrayals and intrigues that fill shows like Game of Thrones, then you’re going to love The Half Drowned King by Linnea Hartsuyker, which takes us to the 9th century world of what would become Scandinavia, and puts us in the midst of the dynastic struggles of the Vikings, in countries made up of numerous little fiefdoms with petty kings all warring against each other.  The book is based on some real life history and a lot of research on the part of the author.

Ragnvald Eysteinsson is the son and grandson of kings and expects to take his father’s place as leader of the clan when his father dies.  However, his stepfather, Olaf, has other ideas.  When Ragnvald is on his way home from a trip to Ireland, he is betrayed and left for dead by men in his stepfather’s employ.  Rescued by a fisherman, Ragnvald is out for revenge against his stepfather (naturally enough). He also wants to reclaim his birthright, rejoin the woman he loves, and protect his sister, Svanhild, the kind of things any reasonable Viking would have as goals.  To accomplish these goals, he pledges his sword and his loyalty to Harald of Vestfold, who some people have prophesied will become the king of all the north.  


Meanwhile, back in Ragnvald’s home country, his sister, Svanhild, is supposed to make an advantageous marriage to the betterment of her clan, whether or not she wants something more, something that lets her see more of the world. Her stepfather, Olaf, has chosen a man for her, but she wants nothing to do with him.  When she has the opportunity to escape from her stepfather via her brother’s mortal enemy, she’s faced with a cruel choice: family or freedom.  It’s an especially tough decision in the Viking world, where women’s options were extremely limited.


This is the first book in a projected trilogy, following the fortunes of these characters, their real world counterparts, and their descendants.  Lose yourself for a while in the world of the Vikings, the sea kings and the land kings, with The Half Drowned King.



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