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July 1, 2013 / minusbar

Book Review: Swords of Good Men, by Snorri Kristjansson

Book Review: “Swords of Good Men” by Snorri Kristjansson

Often when I’m reading a debut novel, I find the first 100-200 pages or so to be quite boring as I’m usually forcing my way through the necessary world building and acquainting myself with the characters. Snorri refreshingly keeps this story very contained to the regional area surrounding Stenvik, a small town at the catalyst of events that are far larger than they know. This more focused scope allowed me to connect with the characters quickly and dive straight into the plot.

Ulfar Thormodsson has spent two years travelling as envoy and bodyguard to his high-born cousin. They have one last stop – the walled town of Stenvik – before they can finally go home.

Audun Arngrimsson works his forge and lives a secretive, solitary life. No one knows about his past, and he’d like to keep it that way. But the Old Gods have other ideas.

The factions within Stenvik are about to come to blows, but a far bigger battle is approaching: a young king is bringing the White Christ at point of sword and edge of blade. And on the horizon are the sails of another, more mysterious enemy…

The character development was handled well. A lot of the physical traits where left very simplified, which I actually appreciated. For me, I like to picture a character in my own mind rather than having their every detail laid out for me. However, the inner thoughts of a character are something that I love to read about; the character, Harold, was a great example of this. Throughout the novel we are given glimpses into his less than stable psyche. We’re also given glimpses into the thoughts of Ulfar, the protagonist. These two characters where especially entertaining for me to read about as it becomes evident very early on that they are destined to bump heads.

You’re probably thinking “Yes, yes… Plot and character developing is great, but tell me about the action!” The book is about Vikings, so naturally there was bound to be carnage. However, I failed to realize just how much! It felt a lot like “300” with Vikings, only better written! (THIS IS STENVIIIIK!) Expect throats cut, stomachs gut and piles of bodies to spare. It was a good bit of fun.

One part I would liked to have read more on was King Olav and his White Christ. They’re mentioned throughout and occasionally get some face time, but aren’t really present for much of the action. Though, I suspect their role will be significantly expanded upon in the sequels. I look forward to seeing where the story is taken from here.

Books like “Swords of Good Men”, by Snorri Kristjansson, make me wonder why more fantasy books aren’t set in Anglo-Saxon Viking settings. As you would expect from a novel featuring Vikings, the action appeared early and often. This was a very enjoyable read for me as I enjoyed the mix of wit, brutality and deceit.

This title will become available on August 1st, 2013 in the UK, you can buy it here!

US Pre-order here.

This book was provided to me in exchange for an honest review.


Roger Bellini


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