By Erin S. Riley
April 24, 2016
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
BOOK ONE OF THE SONS OF ODIN SERIES
Obsession. Treachery. Revenge. Redemption. Certain themes resonate across the centuries.
In ninth-century Ireland, Selia is a girl on the verge of womanhood, frustrated by the confines of her gender and resentful of the freedom her brother boasts of. Intelligent and resourceful in a time when neither is valued in a female, she longs for an escape from her sheltered existence. Fascinated by the tales of Viking raids told by her maidservant, Selia’s hunger for independence is fed through the stories of heathen ferocity she hears at the woman’s knee.
A decision to sneak to the city’s harbor to view the Viking longships leads to an encounter with Alrik Ragnarson, a charismatic Viking warlord whose outward beauty masks a dark and tortured mind. With the knowledge that her father is about to announce her betrothal to a man she doesn’t love, Selia marries Alrik and within a day is on the longship bound for Norway and a new life.
While Selia’s relationship with her new husband grows, her friendship with his brother Ulfrik grows as well. And as Alrik’s character flaws come to light and tension mounts between the two brothers, Selia begins to have misgivings about her hasty marriage . . . especially when a secret from the past is revealed, one that threatens to destroy them all.
When I first read the number of 5-star reviews for this book (and series) on Amazon and Goodreads, I was curious to find out if the book(s) could possibly be that well written…and interesting. Yep. The reviews were spot on. The writing was phenomenal. Reading this series (I actually only read book one and three, skipping the middle one) was so pleasant and enjoyable. I typically struggle with historical romances because of the culture clash (it’s hard for me to associate with that time and place and the language can throw me off) and trying to keep things straight, but Riley does a brilliant job of making the reader feel as if she’s part of the scene. The plot is complex and the psychology of the characters – especially the “berserker” characteristic – plays strongly into the story. It’s easy to identify with the naïve perspective of the young Irish girl, Selia, even though it’s hard to imagine being drawn in like she was if it was in today’s world. (As you proceed to the third book, so many things will make sense. It’s important to read the books in order.) The characters are vividly described. The reader will probably ask again and again, “Why Alrik? Why not Ulfrik?” as a love interest for Selia. How can Selia possibly fall in love with that monster? Is it possible for love to win out?