Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Harold Hardrada: The Last Viking by Michael Burr

Harold Hardrada: The Last Viking by Michael Burr (2011, 416 pages)

An Exciting Historical Novel
Set in the 11th Century

Harold Hardrada: The Last Viking by Michael Burr (New Zealand) is a very exciting debut historical novel.   Set in the second half of the 11th century, it opens with a vividly described Viking raid on a convent in France, in the Brittany region    The violence and the terror of this event is brought totally to life by Burr.   The scenes of the rapes of the nuns are very powerful and are not for those who want to hide from the horror of history.  An attack on a convent is great fun for the Vikings and is also a very low risk target.     

During the raid we meet the character who is to be the central driving narrative force in Harold Hardrada: The Last Viking.   A fifteen year old boy, crippled and deformed and left by his parents at the convent, kills one of the attackers just as he is getting ready to rape a nun. The way he is killed is kind of funny or at least appropriate.   At first the other Vikings want to kill him but the leader Harold Hardrada decides to keep him as a kind of pet and thinks his ability to read and write will prove useful.   He is given the name "The Scraeling".

The Scraeling stays with Harold for many years and sort of becomes "the brains" of the Viking troop.   He is never really accepted but he is tolerated.   

Burr's narrative covers a lot of ground.   In one of the most interesting sections of the book, Harold and his men are body guards to the Byzantine empress Zoe and get involved in very devious murder plot aimed at the very highest levels of society.  

This is just one of the several adventures of the Vikings Burr treats us to.

This book reminded me a lot of the great historical novels of Garry Jennings such as Aztec.    There is a lot of sex, a lot of violence and intrigue combined with meticulously researched historical detail.   It never gets boring and something exciting is always about to happen.    The ending caught me by surprise but it felt very right.

More information about the book and the author can be found at the web page of the publisher, Knox Robinson Publishing.

In the interests of full disclosure, I was sent a free E-book by the publisher.

I feel it is overpriced as hardback at least and do not endorse purchase at this price.

Mel u


@parridhlantern said...

Hi Mel this sounds an action packed interesting book & as I live on the South Coast (southeast) of England, has added appeal, also my wife likes historical novels, making thus all the more appealing. Thanks for drawing it to my attention.

Harvee said...

A book about the Vikings would have to be quite bloody, given their reputation! Sounds like an interesting historical novel. ...Harvee