King Olav Tryggvason decides to unite the whole of Norway in the holy name of Christ. Anyone unwilling to share his faith, he wishes to cleave in the head with a battle-axe. The threads converge beneath the walls of the city of Stenvik, where those who adhere to their well-established, low-hassle religion, resisting King Olav’s plans, also wish to strike him in the head with a battle-axe.
The first part of Snorri Kristjansson’s trilogy was quite alright, although it might have dampened your enthusiasm with too many indistinguishable characters, constant shifts in perspective, and a slightly clumsily starting plot. Fortunately, during the siege, the story became much more intense, although the incorporation of blood magic, reminiscent of fantasy, into a historically grounded novel might raise eyebrows.
However, the real problems arise in the second part “Blood Will Follow”. It’s as if every minor flaw so far is magnified. The relationships between the characters become erratic, and their actions contradict EVERYTHING. For instance, two deceased characters from the first part are revealed to be alive, only to die AGAIN a few pages later due to a lame plot twist. WTF? Characters who spent the first part engaged in continuous intrigues here embark on the MOST TRANSPARENT conspiracy in world history and, well, fail miserably. WTF?? A mediocre and clumsy schemer herbalist, not occupying a high rank in the hierarchy, starts puppeteering the previously strong-willed king on strings and takes over the direction of military operations. WTF???
And that’s just one thread. In the other, two characters wander the roads of Norway and get involved in mundane situations more and more boring. The negative climax here is probably when one of them feeds a damn dog for an ENTIRE PAGE.
If the uneasy feeling that “Blood Will Follow” has lost its historical book character has been lurking around you so far, now it kicks towards you full force with a steel-toed boot.
And then, listen, what do you say about these two characters actually dying at various points in the plot but somehow miraculously surviving? It’s suspicious that MAYBE figures from Scandinavian mythology are lurking around them. Could one of them be Odin himself? I dunno, but no god could make me read this amateurish nonsense until it’s revealed.
Swords of Good Men 7/10 (70%)
Blood Will Follow 4/10 (40%)
Blood Will Follow (The Valhalla Saga #2) by Snorri Kristjansson
308 pages, Hardcover
Published in 2014 by Jo Fletcher Books