Friday, December 4, 2015
recent read; The Whale Road
The Whale Road by Robert Low
I took my son to the town library two weeks ago. He borrowed a DVD, and he suggested I should get a book. Despite having overflowing bookcases and Kindle at home, I agreed. I was pleasantly surprised to find The Whale Road sitting on the shelf. It had been on my reading list since it came out, and I haven't yet bought a copy in any medium, so I borrowed it.
Glad I did. Wish I hadn't waited. I want more.
Orm Ruriksson, young Bear Slayer, joins the Oathsworn mercenary band of Vikings, led by Einar the Black. They are on the hunt for the fabled silver hoard of Attila the Hun. Orm's wyrd is tied to Einar, and the Oathsworn, and Hild, a witchy woman who claims to know the treasure's hiding place. Others have also gotten word of the woman and the treasure. Chase and intrigue follow. Bloody combat, narrow escapes, untrustworthy men add up to rousing adventure.
Over the course of the novel, Orm grows from a young man to a seasoned veteran of the Oathsworn.
While the novel is historical fiction, not fantasy, there is enough magic and supernatural in the Norse worldview that you can say this tale involves magical realism. The consistency of the medieval Viking worldview is a strong point of the novel. It raises it above a mere treasure hunt with Vikings.
The Whale Road is in the vein of adventure historical fiction that rings with veracity of its characters. If you like Robert E. Howard's Cormac Mac Art, I'm sure you'd enjoy this, too.
I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the series.