Hailstone Mountain (The Erling Skjalgsson Saga) by Lars Walker

Hailstone-coverI generally try to read anything by Lars Walker as I find him to be a skilled and interesting writer. This includes his historical fiction (a genre I am not a big fan of).

So when I saw he had released Hailstone Mountain for Kindle I picked it up.  Hailstone Mountain is the second third (see Phil’s comment below) book in this series (The Erling Skjalgsson Saga) that I have read (the first being West Oversea).

In the latest entry in the saga of Erling Skjalgsson, the 11th Century Norwegian chieftain is struck by a deadly curse, and must journey north along with his friends in order to crush it at its source. Meanwhile Freydis, niece of the smith Lemming, is kidnapped by the servants of a mysterious, ancient cannibalistic race who dwell in secret in the mountains of the north. Once again the Irish priest Father Ailill narrates a tale of struggle, faith, endurance, and supernatural peril.

It took me awhile to get into this one (partly because I have been in a reading funk lately and partly because I think it starts a bit slow) but it really picked up speed and turned into an interesting story

There is an interesting hook (the  mythological type beings known as the Children of the Mountain) spurts of both action and suspense as well as some philosophical musings on stories, relationships, faith and more. Lars creates some memorable characters and has a way with words as well. The way he crafts these stories he really places you into the world in which his characters live; IMO he gets the style, mindset and rhythms correct so that the characters and their environment match and seem authentic.

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West Oversea by Lars Walker

West Oversea CoverI have followed the writing of Lars Walker for some time (at Brandywine Books, The American Spectator, etc.).  And I was vaguely aware of this fiction writing but his books never bubbled up to the top of the reading pile for some reason.

So when Lars asked if I wanted a review copy of his latest work, West Oversea, it seemed like a good time to rectify this gap in my reading.  I have been in a bit of a funk of late – not quite knowing what I want to read – and this seemed a good time to shake things up with something different.

And Lars’s fiction is different: historical fiction focused on the Norseman or Vikings but with a supernatural or spiritual component.  Here is how his publisher descirbes his most recent book:

Lars Walker’s third novel about the Vikings begins in the year 1001. King Olaf Trygvesson is dead, but his sister’s husband, Erling Skjalgsson, carries on his dream of a Christian Norway that preserves its traditional freedoms. Rather than do a dishonorable deed, Erling relinquishes his power and lands. He and his household board ships and sail west to find a new life with Leif Eriksson in Greenland.

This voyage, though, will be longer and more dangerous than they ever imagined. It will take them to an unexplored country few Europeans had seen. Demonic forces will pursue them, but the greatest danger of all may be in a dark secret carried by Father Aillil, Erling’s Irish priest.

West Oversea turned out to be an entertaining read with action, intrigue, and philosophical, and spiritual, musings.  This is not an easy blend to pull off, but Walker does it by not overdoing the commentary and skillfully mixing it in with the story’s supernatural aspect.

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