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Author: Juliet Marillier
Published: Tor Books
Eyvind never wanted much from life, the only thing he had his heart and eye on was to become a great warrior like his brother and to die in battle. Such was the life of Vikings, to die in the rages of battle would mean a warm welcome to the great feast in Valhalla.
As long as Eyvind could remember he had been slowly training himself to become a great Wolfskin (Viking warrior) until the arrival of a boy about Eyvind's age unexpectedly shows up putting a damper on Eyvind's training. Eyvind was tasked with taking care of the boy who's name was Somerled and teach him the ropes around the family farm. Somerled who was an outcast wasn't well liked by the other kids even though he was well spoken. Because Somerled was the brother of Ulf who was a friend of Eyvind's older brother, he had access to good schooling which gave Somerled an ego bigger than himself. Somerled being cast out by the other kids led to Eyvind taking him under his wing. Eyvind taught Somerled the training he knew while Somerled taught Eyvind how to better communicate with others and how to spell his own name.
As years went by Eyvind and Somerled became good friends but their time together was cut short when Somerled was retrieved by his older brother so he could go to royal court were his talents would be better suited working with the king. The separation between the two was short lived though since Eyvind became a Wolfskin requiring him to work with the king.
People change over time and sometimes not for the good, Eyvind could see that change in Somerled at the royal court but with so many people it was easy to look him over. Travel, battles, and the love of a local lady seemed to be a good simple life for a young warrior but his simple routine was taken from him by Somerled when he offered Eyvind up as a traveler to a new land Ulf had seen in his dreams. The deal was to find this new kingdom, get a small kingdom started then the Wolfskin warriors that were still on call would return. Things were horrible from the moment the small group of people and warriors set sail for the new land and it seemed they were doomed to drift into oblivion.
When hope for a new kingdom was almost gone land was spotted. The Island though mostly devoid of trees was a nice place for Ulf to build his kingdom. The only thing that was not in the plan was the people who already call the new found land home. Two different languages and two different religions made the locals very nervous of the new comers but things seemed to meld into a perfect partnership with the leader of the locals and Ulf.
The time for the on call Wolfskins to go back to their kind was quickly approaching much to the phrase of Eyvind who missed his routine life at the royal court. Things seemed to be going as planned until the suspicious death of Ulf rocks the locals and Wolfskins to their core. The only people that were with Ulf the time of his death weren't talking and Somerled got everyone worked up in his grief. Who is to blame for the death of their leader? With the Vikings blaming the locals and the locals blaming the Vikings war was quickly approaching the people of the island. A war so massive it could wipe out half of the people on the island. The answer to the mystery and the possible savior to the people falls on a local girl who isn't ready to lead her people let alone fight a war. Eyvind crosses paths with the local girl intertwining their lives together on the brink of war. With Eyvind and the girl together things start to come full circle and people begin to show their true evil that was kept hidden for so long.
Thoughts: I am going to be honest here and say that I struggled through this book. It was so slow for me as far as plot that I thought about putting it down more than once. Things didn't start to pick up until well after the middle. The small love story is surprisingly what kept my interest in the story as I was becoming more and more irritated with some of the main characters. If you are going into this story expecting a good Viking story then you should probably look else were since this book seems to focus more on the characters relationship than battles and Vikings. I will try the next book in the series but I can't promise that I will finish it. It's worth a try though.
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