TITLE: The Half Drowned King
AUTHOR: Linnea Hartsuyker
TRIGGER WARNING: Death, war, sexual inequality. Women treated as items.
WHERE DID I RECEIVE THIS?: HachetteNZ sent this to me in exchange for an honest review!
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.
So, I won’t lie. This was a wee bit of a let down. I’m not sure why I had such high hopes for this book, and I believe if I didn’t I might have enjoyed it more but I can’t fix the past.
The half drowned king is a novel that follows two main characters, Ragnvald and Svanhild. Brother and sister in the Scandinavian lands and their lives. Their lives go in opposite directions when Svanhild married Rangvalds enemy and Ragnvald swears loyalty to a man who wants Savnhilds husband dead.
I think my biggest issue with this book was the slow pacing in it and though there was action in it I didn’t feel tension or the need for a resolution. I found that I cared about the characters a decent amount. I wanted them all to find peace with each other, but I found no interest in their ongoing fights and who died.
A really interesting aspect to this story was the world it was set in, Scandinavia many years ago, I’m not too sure when exactly. It felt like you were watching an episode of Game of Thrones or Vikings and I think if you’re a fan of those style TV shows/books you would absolutely love this book.
I do have to admit I didn’t like how the women were treated like possessions to be passed back and forth, but as far as I know that was accurate for the time so I expected it.
Overall though I felt the story dragged and didn’t interest me personally at all, the characters were interesting and the plot was set up well to escalate in the next book.
I personally won’t be picking up the sequel, atleast I don’t think I will, time will tell. But I think if you’re into historical fiction or have a particular interest in Norse history it will be an absolute thrill, watching fights for land and honour fold out before you.
*thanks to HachetteNZ for sending me a copy of this book*
Until next time,