Two young Vikings voyage deep into the Russian winter, a quest for glory that will lead all the way to Byzantium
Conn Corbansson is a clever and strong leader of men and his cousin and best friend, the god-touched Raef, is his navigator and shield against evil. After joining a fur-trading ship to Russia they are forced to overwinter in the icebound village of Novgrod.
But tempers flare in the confinement, and factions form – the far-faring Norse against the native Rus, the honour-bound warriors against the gold-seeking traders. Taking service with the leader of the Rus, Dobrynya, they travel south to Kiev, and on with a raiding party that will take them all the way into the northern reaches of the Byzantine Empire.
Varanger, fourth in the compelling Life and Times of Corban Loosestrife series, is perfect for fans of Bernard Cornwell and Giles Kristian.
‘A potent blend of fantasy, history, and romance… a rousing, vivid tale rich with Nordic lore’ Publishers Weekly
‘Elements of romance, mysticism, and suspense are interwoven into one superlative, spine-tingling adventure’ Booklist
‘She is the finest author of historical fiction working in English today’ SF Site
Holland continues her Viking saga (following The Soul Thief and The Witches' Kitchen) with an uneven but entertaining adventure tale. After their war band is defeated in a legendary clash at Hjorunga Bay, cousins Conn and Raef Corbansson, who narrowly escaped the carnage, find themselves in the frozen north of Scandinavia. As "free warriors," they volunteer for an expedition to seize the port city of Chersonese in "the heart of the Greek Sea." The journey is long and arduous, Chersonese is a more formidable target than expected, and as Conn and Raef discover, their new allies are treacherous. Holland's recreation of the expedition is imaginative and creditable, and her characters especially introspective Raef and impulsive Conn are sharply drawn and authentic. The action ebbs and flows, the plot is occasionally opaque and the proliferation of obscure names and places can be daunting, but the novelty of Vikings out of their traditional milieu keeps the pages turning. .