In the latter half of the ninth century A.D., a young Norse warrior joins his people on his first raid to Britain. He dreams of glory in battle and returning home with tribute and spoils. But when his longship is burned, he finds himself trapped in an unfriendly land. Dreams of glory give way to a fight for survival. When his new home is invaded, his loyalty to those who spared his life is tested. Will he remain loyal to his Scottish saviors, or will he side with the invaders he used to call family? The Saga of Asbjorn Thorleikson is William Speir’s second work of historical fiction and is based on a legend from his own family. The novel is a 2015 Royal Palm Literary Award semi-finalist in the Historical Fiction category.
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Dr. Thomas Law –
The author’s attention to detail is refreshing. It makes the story come alive and creates believable characters. His stated purpose in the subtitle is to write a novel of Vikings in Scotland. As such, of necessity, it must include war and warriors – battles, tactics and strategy. Obviously, if it is to be a great novel there also must be a love story. All of this and much more is found in William Speir’s The Saga of Asbjorn Thorleikson.
The author, though, does not settle with writing a prosaic story of love and war. He also tackles the cultural shifts taking place in this time and age. It is a story of loving and fighting, but it is so much more. The battle scenes are graphic and help the reader understand the cruelty and harshness of life in this era of history. Battle strategies are mapped out along with the tactics to make those strategies successful. Warriors engage one another in life and death struggles. The victor not only vanquishes those defeated, but eliminates them from the face of the earth. Details of everyday life and warrior training are explained.
But in a broader sense this is a story of culture clashes – Norse versus Celtic; warrior versus agrarian; and pagan versus Christian. The author tackles the shifts that are taking place around the characters with poise and ease. He lays out the issues and allows the unfolding story explain the significance of each.
The warrior culture exalted by those of Norse descent prepare to battle with a changing world introduced by those of Celtic descent extolling the virtues of agrarian society. The warrior tradition gained its highest reward in whom the warrior could kill or capture. Those with these valued skill-sets were beyond reproach regardless of what they did as long as they produced the desired result of conquering their enemy.
The developing agrarian society valued what could be produced by partnering with the land and each other, by ingenuity and hard work instead of through conquest and pillage. Add to this, the struggle to move from revering the ancient gods to growing a faith in the God of Christianity. Mix in the internal turmoil among those who claim to be Christian as the fight their family traditions and heritage. Top it off with a developing love relationship that is intertwined with all of these shifts, and you have a great novel.
Joseph C. Fernandez –
A good read fast pace action can.t wait for the next one