"Linnea Hartsuyker brings myth and legend roaring to life in this superbly good page-turning saga of Viking-era Norway. The book’s fiercest magic shines in the characters of Ragnvald and Svanhild, as unforgettable a brother and sister duo as I can remember. Linnea Hartsuyker is an exciting, original voice in historical fiction, and The Half-Drowned King is nothing short of mesmerizing."—Paula McLain, bestselling author of The Paris Wife and Circling the Sun
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.
In her first novel, Hartsuyker brings to life the savage world of the Viking warriors of ninth-century Norway. Ragnvald Eysteinsson is on his way home from a raiding expedition across the North Atlantic when he is betrayed by his captain, Solvi Hunthiofsson, and flung overboard. Rescued by a fisherman, Ragnvald eventually returns home to his beloved sister, Svanhild, who is miserably betrothed to an older man, Thorkell. The source of both their unhappiness is their stepfather, Olaf Ottarsson, who plotted to have Ragnvald killed and Svanhild married off. Exposing his stepfather, Ragnvald goes off to fight alongside Harald Halfdansson, the future king of Norway. At the same time, strong-willed Svanhild finds escape in the form of Solvi, the self-confessed instrument of her brother's betrayal, who takes her as his latest bride. But Solvi is a sworn enemy of Harald, so what will happen when Ragnvald ultimately meets his brother-in-law in combat? 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. In the end, this novel can stand proudly with Edison Marshall's The Viking and Frans G. Bengtsson's The Long Ships as an immersive fictional recreation of a bloody moment in Scandinavian history.
Great historical fiction!
This book does a great job of bringing to life the early period of Norse history when Norway was just beginning to coalesce under one ruler.