Top critical review
Decent story with a hollow hero
Reviewed in the United States on February 3, 2020
Where to begin? I enjoyed the earliest sections of this book, when Hakon was a youth in Æthelstan's court, but once we leave there the main character loses his focus. The author mentions in his comments that he chose to make Hakon an inexperienced character that leaned on his counselors. While I understand this decision, when it is coupled with the overt emotional outbursts oh, I found it very difficult to believe that this man would find followers amongst the hard people of the Frozen North. I actually find it easier to accept that they would accept a Christian King more so than a whining, inexperienced child susceptible to emotional outbursts that undercut his stature as a possible King. some choices he made, especially those dealing with his childhood friend, we're unrealistic, silly, and frankly idiotic. It's simply burst the bubble for me and I could not see the central figure being a person that men would follow.
I understand that in the real world Erik survived the fight with his brother and was banished but to have two instances where this supposed upstart king allows is mortal enemies to survive just seemed implausible. The first instance in which he allowed an enemy to survive came back to haunt him and essentially undercut his authority and fellowship with his northern subjects. A normal person will learn from their mistakes and not repeat them, but here we have this repentant King commit this ludacris act twice, even after the first mistake causes irreparable damage to those he loves and in the end loses. I understand the author's thinking that he was trying to showcase the Christian theme of forgiveness, but for me it completely broke the story.
I will not be reading the second book in the series.