The Half-drowned King

The Half-drowned King

A Novel

Book - 2017
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"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."--
Publisher: New York : Harper, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, [2017]
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780062563699
Branch Call Number: Hartsuyker, L
Characteristics: 431 pages : 24 cm


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SPPL_János Jul 11, 2018

This kickoff to a planned trilogy of Viking Age historical fiction goes beyond the usual battle scenes to depict a richly dramatized world of political machinations, legal wrangling, and women with agency. It can get a bit talky, but Hartsuyker keeps our interest with three engaging main characters who are pushed into conflict by their diverging loyalties. A good crossover for fantasy readers.

Jun 18, 2018

This was a gritty historical novel set in early Norway. The author makes history come alive in her storytelling, and I appreciated the fact that she focuses on women during this period. The narrative of Svanhild and her struggles for adventure and independence were what kept me coming back, her brother, not so much.

Jan 20, 2018

This is an undeniable achievement in historical fiction. Hartsuyker really knows her stuff and you can tell this was a labor of love for her. I was completely transported to Viking Age Norway.

I especially liked the way she incorporated their beliefs - in the gods, in magic - in a way that never feels like fantasy or even magical realism. You're in their heads, you simply accept that the undead walk among us, that frost giants and witches are real threats.

I made the mistake of accidentally returning my audiobook to the library before it was due and switching to print may have affected my overall enjoyment of the book. It's excellent on audio because of all the Scandinavian names and places (there are a lot of them, Hartsuyker even provides a list in the back matter).

As the story progressed, I grew more interested in Svanhild than Ragnvald. His scenes were surprisingly heavy on dialogue and it made the plot drag. It took me over a month to finish the book, and that's a long time for me.

Having said that, I'm still interested in continuing the series. Without spoiling the ending, I'm keen on seeing particular characters reunite.

Oct 31, 2017

excellent book...promises to be part of a series from this talented writer. lovers of saga literature and adventure tales are certain to enjoy this book. highly recommend reading, "The Half-Drowned King", it is everything that a book of historical fiction can provide! 10 out of 10.

Megan_PNW Sep 13, 2017

This historical fiction has a lot to recommend it. Great characters, a gripping story, and a hint of the kind of ancient political intrigue that makes readers love Game of Thrones without dragging the reader as far afield as Martin does. With three strong likable main characters who each get chapters from their own perspective, the narrative still flows and moves easily never leaving the thread of any one for too long. Like a myth of old, we cheer for our heroes (one a woman of stronger mind than her time) who clash together time and again. No character is perfect for the reader, but all sympathetic in their own way. This careful balance gives the book just the right amount of hope and danger, and realistic frustration that reminds the reader that in history, the heroes did not always have the perfectly orchestrated happily ever after and that every choice has a price.

Although the book has no supernatural elements it will appeal to readers of epic fantasy and gamers who miss the landscape of Skyrim with its barrows and kingdoms.

Go read it.


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