Reviewed by David Maclaine
God of Vengeance should delight fans of Giles Kristian’s Raven trilogy. Author Kristian makes a metaphorical homecoming (after two novels set in the English Civil War) back to the Viking Age heroics of that first series, taking his Viking leader Sigurd backward in time to the bloody episodes that marked his transition from younger son to war-leader. And while the Raven books followed Sigurd’s band in astonishing raids across most of western Europe, this novel offers another sort of homecoming: the action, though just as fierce and fraught with peril, takes place entirely among the fjords and islands of western Norway.
The author’s mastery of historical and cultural texture gives the feeling of immersion in a fully imagined society. His tale turns on and profits from such crucial details as the relative rarity and cost of a coat of mail. Although the book offers a conventional enough narrative of betrayal and revenge, with much emphasis on the process of tracking down warriors who might become a faithful corps of followers, the story never feels contrived or formulaic. Kristian’s storytelling skills have progressed in the course of five novels, and even though the reader must strongly suspect how the drama will end, there is ample suspense along the way. God of Vengeance offers a vibrant view of the bloody local warfare that honed the skills of Scandinavia’s warriors before they began to sail off in search of easier prey. (2014, 320 pages)More about God of Vengeance at Powell's Books or Amazon.com