Top positive review
Funny, dark, gripping account of Viking vendettas
Reviewed in the United States on December 10, 2015
One of the greatest novels written - and one of the earliest - this darkly funny saga of Viking life follows a series of offences and counter-offences that gradually form into a fatal vendetta. From its first line: "There was a man called Mord Fiddle" (Mord means 'murder'…) it gallops along.
One of the highlights is a horribly hilarious account of the Battle of Clontarf, in which Brian Boru and his men - including many friends and relatives of his opponents - fight off invading Icelanders hired by his divorced wife to back her sons' claim to kingship. One of those being chased by another with battle-axe raised stops to do up his shoelace. "What are you stopping for?" asks yer man, axe still held ready to drop, and the shoelace-tyer shrugs and says: "I wouldn't reach home by nightfall anyway." The axeman laughs so much he has to let him go.