Review: Viking: Sworn Brother – Tim Severin

Viking Sworn Brother Tim SeverinSeries: Viking 2

My copy: Paperback
Genre: Historical Fiction, Vikings
Published by: Pan
First published: 2005

From the cover:
London, 1020: a few weeks have passed since Thorgils has escaped the clutches of the Irish Church only to find himself at the centre of a capricious love affair with Aelfgifu, wife of Knut the Great, ruler of England, and one of the most powerful men of the Viking empire. A passionate relationship between two unlikely lovers begins to unfold, which forebodes uncontrollable consequences . . .

Forced to flee the realm, Thorgils teams up with Grettir, an outlaw feared for his volatile and brooding behaviour. The two men become travel companions and sworn brothers – which binds them together beyond death. At the gates of Byzantium Thorgils’ loyalty is put to the ultimate test . . .

Sworn Brother continues an utterly compelling journey back in time to a world that is brimming with wonderfully crafted characters and their insatiable hunger for barbaric war and expansion.

Sworn Brother, is number two in the Viking series and is another excellent read. A good story, nicely written and exhaustively researched.

I thought at one point that it could perhaps do with having a bit more blood and thunder in it, but then I’m probably criticising it unfairly. I have, after all, just come off two rather more violent Viking sagas (by Robert Low and Giles Kristian). This is a whole different animal.

Sworn Brother and the Viking series, is more of a thorough examination of the whole Viking Age. It is clear that Tim Severin has done his research and wants to show it – and wants us to learn.

The main character continues with his telling of his life and events (as though his saga has been found and read by a hostile Christian priest). He continues his journey around the known Viking world. Previously he was in Iceland, Greenland, Vinland and back, now he’s off to Iceland again, several times, Norway, Denmark, Sweden (possibly), then into the far north, what is now Finland, then on to the east, (today’s) Russia and down to Byzantium and the Arab world. All thoroughly possible in the Viking Age. There is a hint of what’s to come in the final instalment and it also fits – though it would seem Mr Severin was incredibly lucky he found a Viking who got himself involved in so many pivotal events of the Viking era…

I thoroughly enjoyed this one and can recommend it to anyone with even a passing interest in the Vikings, their times, customs, beliefs and adventurous spirit.

You can buy Viking Sworn Brother from The Book Depository

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