It is the late seventh century, and the world is a violent place, steeped in blood and legend as Viking merchants traverse the Black Sea and war against neighboring tribes. Near the turbulent waters of the ancient Slavuta River, a boy named Azurr is born to a powerful jarl and a sorceress mother. Still an infant, his prophecy arrives in the middle of a storm, beneath the light of a burning tree. The innocence of his youth is short-lived, however, as the gods play a trick on him that leaves blood on his hands and lies behind his eyes. Thus initiated into the world of men secretly and unexpectedly, Azurr learns the ways of war, ever-seeking to impress his powerful father; however, he also remains curious about the powers of the gods, haunted by surreal dreams and befriending a mysterious merchant woman whose powers mirror those of his mother. As the ship of his life navigates him into foretold but unforeseen greatness, Azurr must travel over both land and sea, testing the limits of his mind, while spurning his berserker’s rage, and shaping his legacy within the dual realms of myth and steel.
The Oaken Crucible, the first book in Ilya d’Angre’s The Zhertva Trilogy, is a spellbinding epic that will delight fans of mystery, fantasy, and Norse history and mythology. Through the mind and eyes of Azurr, our thoughtful and fierce protagonist, readers get a unique glimpse of a long-past era that influenced the shape of the Western world.