“Tell me about King Erik, Your Grace.”
The archbishop blew the froth from his ale and peered across the rim, chuckling softly as he took a sip. “Bloodaxe?”
Under Harald Fairhair Norway has been unified, but the question of succession casted a shadow over the great king’s twilight rule. He wants Erik to be his heir for high kingship, but Harald has fathered many sons, all kings in their own right, each eager for the spoils the great king’s death will bring.
I’ve always had a fascination with the character of Erik Bloodaxe, the last Viking king of an independent Northumbria, if only for his descriptive name. If you’ve ever had the pleasure of visiting Jorvik Viking museum you may well have bought the T-Shirt or perhaps the mug, such as I have!
When I heard that C R May was embarking on telling his Erik’s saga I knew I would be in for a spectacular ride aboard a dragon prowed longship; and what a ride this is. Those familiar with Mr May’s (in my opinion) unrivalled word-craft in bringing this historical period to life, will have an inkling of what to expect, and for those new to his work, you will be in for a real treat and wonder why you haven’t read his work before. You can taste the salt tang of spray as you pull oar on Erik’s Skei, feel the fear and pride as your sea king disembarks first, to lead his hird to a bloody and glorious victory, amid hoarse shouts of blóðøx.
It is the author’s great skill that he is able to put flesh on the bones of a few lines of Norse literature and create a wealth of believable characters, which the reader becomes utterly invested in. Mr May invites his reader to suspend their disbelief in the fantastic with such subtlety that the presence of a lycanthropic monster, or the earthly manifestation of a god, is accepted without question. This is the heroic world where tales are told in the mead hall and monstrous shapes summoned by skalds in the shadows of flickering flames. Odin, the All-Father, does love his poetry, after all.
"When one-eyed wandering poets ask you to honour their wishes Erik, it's usually a good idea to do so... Particularly if they haven't aged a day in twenty winters."
Yet just when you think the tale is told, that a kingdom is won and Erik’s tapestry is woven, such is the fate of men that the three sisters of wyrd pick at loose threads, their shears poised to cut the warp and weft of heroes, and bring all crashing down in ruination and death in the world of Midgard. For, as Erik has concentrated on the Nor’way, foreign kings have conspired to weave patterns of their own.
But Erik has a destiny, told him by a warlock of the far north, and will snatch the threads of his life from the blades of the hags of fate, which fortunately for us means there will be an Erik Haraldsson Book 2. Form the shieldwall, raise the standard, Blóðøx! Blóðøx!
This is historical fiction as it’s meant to be written, absolutely top notch stuff from a writer at the peak of his craft.
Bloodaxe is available at Amazon