Sunday, October 30, 2016


Dubh-Linn: A Novel of Viking-Age Ireland
© 2014 James Nelson
326 pages

All Thorgrim Nightwolf wanted was to go home.But the gods and Irish women have a way of...complicating things.  Thorgrim has more sense than to tangle with this benighted island and its politics, but his son Harold and his captain are another story.  Both are besotted with a woman who claims to be the heir to the Irish throne; she's so vulnerable and lovely and in need of a protective hand, what with her story of having fled a murderous and now mysteriously stabbed-and-burned husband. But Brigit is playing them like a fiddle, and what's more -- she's in a contest with the equally beautiful and equally ruthless Morrigan, who hopes to rule through her brother's claim on the throne.  As Thorgrim tries to save his brethren from themselves from these deadly wiles,  the plot develops to a final battle involving four armies,  none of which have any idea who is pulling the strings.

When I read Fin Gall, the first book in this series, I noted that the two Irish women seemed interchangeable. To a degree, that's still the case here: they're both beautiful, dangerous, and manipulative. But one is pregnant, and the other is in power.  While Nelson isn't as comedic as Cornwell, his action scenes are utterly gripping, and he's even better than Cornwell at making the environment around his characters come alive. The gloom of clouds, the mists of forests, the odor of rotting hay -- it's all very effective. So far both of his books have involved his main characters stumbling through other people's schemes, but one here was an absolute beauty. What I especially like here is a main character, Thorgrim, whose main concern is protecting and guiding his son as he assumes more responsibilities and perils of manhood.

Definitely will continue in this series.  And Cornwell is coming again in November with the Flame Bearer!


  • Vikings, season 3. (Trailer)  Ragnar's son Bjorn is rapidly becoming not just a man, but a leader of men. Also, dangerous women aplenty, especially in  Kwenthrith. Holy cow. (Also, they attack Paris and it is BRUTAL.)
  • The Saxon Stories series, Bernard Cornwell. Lots of Saxon-Dane fighting and bountiful humor.
  • Leofric, Sword of the Angles. An story of Angle politics from when they were still migrating into Britain. 

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