(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.
(Cover picture courtesy of NetGalley.)
Beginning ten years after the end of Éire’s Captive Moon, this is the story of how Agnarr Halvardson returns to Éire with the intention of settling there, marrying, and siring sons.
It is also the story of Aislinn, who was a child in Ragor when the Northmen raided eleven summers prior but is now a working physician in her own right. She spent a year in Bangor Monastery and became a Christian before Cowan and Charis returned to take the children to Cowan’s village in the kingdom of Dál Fiatach and returns there a decade later to finish learning all she can from the monks about their healing practices.
When Cowan brings her a patient, injured and temporarily unable to speak, she can’t help but find the strong, tall man attractive, even if such feelings unsettle her.
Although sparks fly immediately, Agnarr’s idea of wedding Aislinn—the physician who heals him when he is injured—is hampered by many factors, including language and cultural differences. There is also the matter that he is the man who kidnapped and enslaved Charis years before.
Believing strongly that God gave Agnarr to her as a patient, though, Aislinn does her best. Her knowledge of who he is wars with her unwilling attraction to him. That he makes his interest in her clear doesn’t help, as he goes so far as to seek her father’s permission to wed her. Can she forgive him for what he did to her village? Can she love him if she does? And will she be willing to accept a life at Agnarr’s side even if he does not love her?
Meanwhile, other raiders from the North come to Éire’s green coasts. Pledging his loyalty to the new king, Muiredach of Dál Fiatach, Agnarr prepares to defend his new home.
[Full disclosure: I received a free ebook copy through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.]
After enjoying the first book, Éire’s Captive Moon I thought I might as well give Éire’s Viking a try. Charis was a great character in the first book and carried the story on her shoulders, but maybe Aislinn would be just the same as her foster mother. In the end, I wasn’t disappointed.
I like how Aislinn is similar to her adopted mother in many ways and yet so different. Whereas Charis is an agnostic sort of a character, Aislinn is firmly Christian and it really shows in her day to day activities. Her belief is sincere and I love how she still keeps some of Charis’ old ways despite the disapproval of the monks in the area. So imagine Aislinn’s dilemma when Agnarr comes knocking, looking to settle in Éire peacefully. Can she forgive him for what he has done? Can she reconcile his past actions with this seemingly changed older, wiser man? And can she find it in her heart to admit that she does love him?
I’m not a big romance person when it comes to fiction, but I liked Aislinn’s and Agnarr’s relationship. There was that initial spark of attraction, then they stepped back and were sort of wary of each other and then they tried to reconcile their differences. It wasn’t a straight and narrow path to romance, but it was filled with some very realistic twists and turns. Romance is hardly ever straightforward and Sandi Layne did her readers a favour by not making it that way in fiction.
The other thing I felt was improved since the first book was the fact that we get to see some of the greater politics at work. We bring in the Danish as well as the Vikings and the Irish and I liked the subtle political maneuverings that accompanied the changing worldviews within all three countries. I can’t explain this really but I also felt much more immersed in Aislinn’s world than I did in the first book. Maybe it was the added detail, maybe it was just the change of setting but I really felt like I was there alongside the characters.
Would I call this the book of the year? Not really, but it is a pretty good book. Put it on your wish lists because it comes out on January 23, 2014.
I give this book 4.5/5 stars.
Amazon* Barnes and Noble* Goodreads
*Not available yet.