Summary and book reviews of The Half-Drowned King by Linnea Hartsuyker

The Half-Drowned King

by Linnea Hartsuyker

The Half-Drowned King by Linnea Hartsuyker
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  • Published:
    Aug 2017, 448 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Gary Presley

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Book Summary

An exhilarating saga of the Vikings that conjures a brutal, superstitious, and thrilling ninth-century world and the birth of a kingdom - the debut installment in a historical literary trilogy that combines the bold imagination and sweeping narrative power of Game of Thrones, Vikings, and Outlander.

Centuries ago, in a blood-soaked land ruled by legendary gods and warring men, a prophecy foretold of a high king who would come to reign over all of the north. ...

Ragnvald Eysteinsson, the son and grandson of kings, grew up believing that he would one day take his dead father's place as chief of his family's lands. But, sailing home from a raiding trip to Ireland, the young warrior is betrayed and left for dead by men in the pay of his greedy stepfather, Olaf. Rescued by a fisherman, Ragnvald is determined to have revenge for his stepfather's betrayal, claim his birthright and the woman he loves, and rescue his beloved sister Svanhild. Opportunity may lie with Harald of Vestfold, the strong young Norse warrior rumored to be the prophesied king. Ragnvald pledges his sword to King Harald, a choice that will hold enormous consequence in the years to come.

While Ragnvald's duty is to fight - and even die - for his honor, Svanhild must make an advantageous marriage, though her adventurous spirit yearns to see the world. Her stepfather, Olaf, has arranged a husband for her - a hard old man she neither loves nor desires. When the chance to escape Olaf's cruelty comes at the hands of her brother's arch rival, the shrewd young woman is forced to make a heartbreaking choice: family or freedom.

Set in a mystical and violent world defined by honor, loyalty, deceit, passion, and courage, The Half-Drowned King is an electrifying adventure that breathtakingly illuminates the Viking world and the birth of Scandinavia.

1

Ragnvald danced on the oars, leaping from one to the next as the crew rowed. Some kept their oars steady to make it easier for him; some tried to jostle Ragnvald off when he landed on them. The wind from the mountains, a breath of lingering winter, swept down the fjord, whistling through the trees that lined the cliffs. But under the bright sun, Ragnvald was warm in his wool shirt and heavy hose. He had worn them during the whole journey back across the North Sea, through the storms and mists that separated Ireland from home.

He touched the bow post and hung on for a moment to catch his breath.

"Come back," called Solvi. "You cling like a woman to that dragon." Ragnvald took a deep breath and stepped out onto the first oar again. His friend Egil held this one, his bleached hair shining in the sun. Egil smiled up at Ragnvald; he would not let him fall. Ragnvald's steps faltered as he leapt back the other way, against the direction of the oars' motion, the sun shining ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Adept and intelligent, imaginative and literate, Hartsuyker's foray into historical fiction is appealing enough to reach beyond that genre's audience and find fans among devotees of The Lord of the Rings and other sagas in fantastical settings.   (Reviewed by Gary Presley).

Full Review Members Only (915 words).

Media Reviews

New York Journal of Books

Suspenseful, intriguing, gripping!... Treachery and astonishment and surprise are always right around the corner…As with all great historical fiction, there are strong similarities to actual events. Good research is very important to a believable historical novel. This book has it. If you enjoy Bernard Cornwell, do not pass this book by. It is well worth the read!

Washington Independent Review of Books

This is a delightful novel, one that manages to summon the musty halls of a seemingly distant past and populate them with the complex heroes of our age.

The Huffington Post

You’ll find heroes and villains aplenty but they’re filled with satisfying contradictions. Mostly, this story — very loosely based on scraps of history — is a lot of fun. Hartsuyker is off to a very good start.

Kirkus Reviews

Hold on to your helms and grab your shields - Hartsuyker is just getting started.

Publishers Weekly

The author, who can trace her lineage back to Harald Halfdansson, recreates the half-civilized, half-primitive landscape of his time, where a dragon boat sailing up a fjord struck dread in all who saw it. Befitting its subject matter, the book is replete with exciting battles, duels, and sieges, but the author makes Svanhild’s domestic tribulations equally dramatic.

Booklist

Starred Review. A terrific historical epic…the action scenes will have the blood humming in your veins.

Library Journal

Starred Review. An adventurous summer read, in which vivid historical detail meets a fast-moving plot.

Author Blurb Madeline Miller, bestselling author of The Song of Achilles
Lovers of epic rejoice! Hartsuyker illuminates these old stories with authority and visceral detail, bringing to life the adventure, bleak beauty, and human struggle that lie at their heart. A vivid and gripping read.

Author Blurb Paula McLain, bestselling author of The Paris Wife and Circling the Sun
Linnea Hartsuyker brings myth and legend roaring to life in this superbly good page-turning saga of Viking-era Norway. Hartsuyker is fearless as she navigates a harsh, exacting, and hair-raising world, with icy fjords and raiding seasons and ancient blood feuds...Linnea Hartsuyker is an exciting, original voice in historical fiction, and The Half-Drowned King is nothing short of mesmerizing.

Author Blurb Paula McLain, bestselling author of The Paris Wife and Circling the Sun
Linnea Hartsuyker brings myth and legend roaring to life in this superbly good page-turning saga of Viking-era Norway. Hartsuyker is fearless as she navigates a harsh, exacting, and hair-raising world, with icy fjords and raiding seasons and ancient blood feuds...Linnea Hartsuyker is an exciting, original voice in historical fiction, and The Half-Drowned King is nothing short of mesmerizing.

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Beyond the Book

Norse Settlements in Canada

Map of VinlandThe Half-Drowned King, Linnea Hartsuyker's wonderful Norse saga, is set prior to the end of the first millennium, significantly before the major explorations of the Norse to the west, an era when anthropologists have traced their footprints to the edges of the North American continent.

It was only a few decades ago when school children were taught that Columbus "discovered" America, with credit spread among other European explorers for other sightings and encounters. It's generally accepted now that the Norse settled in Iceland, then colonized Greenland, and thereafter ventured as far as present-day Gulf of St. Lawrence and eastern Canada's New Brunswick (which Leif Eriksson named Vinland.) It's curious that permanent...

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