Éire’s Devil King by Sandi Layne

Eire's Devil King by Sandi Layne(Cover picture courtesy of Goodreads.)

A man of ability and ambition, Tuirgeis Erlingrson has nurtured the desire to carve a place of leadership for himself on the Green Island, Éire, that he has raided multiple times. After the death of his wife in Nordweg, he takes his surviving son to Éire. Having connections with his adopted brother, Cowan, and Agnarr, his former countryman, Tuirgeis feels he has the support he needs to make his claims strong.

Agnarr is torn. His promise to Aislinn to remain with her on Éire is still in force, and he resists Tuirgeis’s requests to join the conquering forces from Nordweg. He desires above all things to maintain a safe home for his wife and children in Dal Fíatach. Charis encourages Cowan to do the same, though this makes for tense moments between them.

After initial disastrous attempts to achieve his ambition, Tuirgeis comes to learn that there is more to claiming a kingship than merely overpowering the locals. Tuirgeis finds himself at odds with the very people he had hoped would reinforce him. In addition, he wants to establish his father-line. He has one son; he wants another to be born of Éire. Will the woman of his choice accept and support him?

At length, Agnarr and Aislinn—though she is heavy with child—sail with Cowan and Charis to join Tuirgeis as he battles over one final summer to attain the High Kingship of the island.

Tuirgeis knows he doesn’t have long to make his claims; the Danes are coming in greater numbers than before. As he wins men of Éire to his cause, he has to maintain the relationships he has already fostered with Agnarr and Cowan. Charis finds that her Otherworldly gifts are needed by a man she considers her enemy.

[Full disclosure: I requested and received a free ebook through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.]

I’m always a little nervous starting the last book in a series that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed.  Why?  It’s usually because I’m worried that the author isn’t able to wrap things up in a satisfying manner, answering most (if not all) questions that arose throughout the series.  Sometimes my nervousness is justified and other times it’s not.  Éire’s Devil King is most definitely the latter.  I didn’t need to be nervous at all when it comes to the last Éire’s Viking book.

In the first book I always favoured Turgeis above Agnarr, maybe in part because Turgeis was not the one actively raping Charis and humiliating her.  Agnarr reformed himself in the second book but I still was generally more interested in Turgeis’ story.  In the beginning I’ll admit I was a little disappointed in how slow the book started out but once things got going, they really did get going.  Turgeis is a man who is already quite mature but throughout the story he does come to see things in a much different light.  Instead of burning and pillaging he wants to assimilate to a certain extent and rule over the locals.  He won’t give up his precious Norse gods and convert to Christianity like Cowan and Agnarr but he at least tolerates Christianity and doesn’t impose religion on anyone.  As you can probably guess, his hands are far from clean but I definitely like this new Turgeis better than the old one.

Turgeis is definitely the main focus of this last story but we also see some incredible glimpses into the lives of Charis, Cowan, Agnarr and Aislinn on occasion.  Charis and Cowan aren’t getting any younger (well, Cowan sure isn’t whereas Charis is her same ageless self) and Aislinn and Agnarr are still working on having some more children.  Things don’t always go smoothly in the village because the Danes are coming to raid their land but overall there’s much more peace on the island than there was when we first met Charis.  This is in part due to Cowan being Turgeis’ adopted brother but also because the men from Nordweg are more interested in immigration and assimilate than conquest.  They want to be a part of the great island instead of just plundering its riches.  I really liked how Sandi Layne showed that gradual change that comes over decades while at the same time introducing the new threat of the Danes to help move the plot along.

Charis, as always, stole the story for me.  She’s an incredible woman with possibly Otherworldly powers but she also doesn’t have her head in the clouds like you’d expect from someone like her.  There are times she can be very stubborn but she’s at heart a pragmatic woman and will ally with people she dislikes, such as Turgeis, in order to achieve her own ends.  In this book it’s peace on her island and a home from her adopted daughter’s children and grandchildren.  There’s an interesting little epilogue that brings her incredible story to an end and it’s really quite satisfying even if we don’t know exactly what she is and where her powers truly come from.  It’s sort of left to the reader to figure things out and draw their own conclusions.

So while the plot wasn’t fast-paced in the beginning things quickly got exciting and through it all the incredible characters Sandi Layne has created over three books really shone through.  Charis in particular stands out to me but all of the characters were very well developed; there’s a character for everyone here.  From the author’s note I believe the little historical details within the story are true as are the broader strokes like the migration of the Danes but Sandi Layne does admit to changing around Turgeis’ story just a little bit.  And that’s fine because it really works well for this story.  I’m sad to see the trilogy end but it was done in a way that really satisfied me as a reader so I have no problem with that.  It’s a great ending to a good trilogy.

I give this book 5/5 stars.

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