The Half-Drowned King by Linnea Hartsuyker

The Half-Drowned King, Book 1

Synopsis: Since the death of Ragnvald Eysteinsson’s father in battle, he has worked hard to protect his sister Svanhild and planned to inherit his family’s land when he comes of age. But when the captain of his ship tries to kill him on the way home from a raiding excursion, he must confront his stepfather’s betrayal, and find a way to protect his birthright. It is no easy feat in Viking-Age Norway, where a hundred petty rulers kill over parcels of land, and a prophesied high king is rising.

But where Ragnvald is expected to bleed, and even die, for his honour, Svanhild is simply expected to marry well. It’s not a fate she relishes, and when the chance to leave her stepfather’s cruelty comes at the hand of her brother’s arch-rival, Svanhild is forced to make the ultimate choice: family or freedom.

Drawing from the Icelandic Sagas, The Half-Drowned King takes inspiration from the true story of Ragnvald of Maer, the right hand man of King Harald Fairhair, first king of all Norway, and his sister, Svanhild, as she tries to find freedom in a society where the higher her brother rises, the greater her worth as a political pawn.

Review: I was very surprised to receive this novel and I must confess it is not what I usually try. I was a little afraid of having trouble because Vikings, gladiators, and all that kind are usually complicated for me and yet I was very surprised to have a great time with the story and I can even say that I am curious to read more.

The author presents two different points of view in this novel, that of Ragnvald and his sister Svanhild. Both characters live opposite lives and at the same time they are extremely connected. They are both very close but when Ragnvald travels the world, Svanhild, as a woman, does not have the right to do so, but remains eager for freedom and discoveries. It’s not easy, but she’s standing up to the men who are trying to marry her. But Svanhild falls under the spell of the only man she should not and Ragnvald goes to different countries to try to recover his inheritance, adventures that will not be simple.

I must say that I loved following Ragnvald’s sister. She is a strong young woman, eager for freedom, but she does not want to finish like the other women waiting for their husband to return. And yet, she will be so torn towards her brother and her desires. I loved going back on her character even if her brother was as interesting in all his quests and battles.

So here is a novel that surprised me and made me have a good time. Something different from what I read, but equally enjoyable to discover! I can not wait to find out what’s going to happen to them now.

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