Reviewed by David Maclaine
The Lord of Vik-Ló, third in the Norsemen Saga, is in many ways the most satisfying. Although the tale begins with Thorgrim Night Wolf, his son Harald and his drunken father Ornolf plying the waters of the Irish Sea en route to their Norwegian home, it isn't hard to guess that a looming storm will drive them back to Ireland. Once back on those familiar strands, the plot focuses on a localized struggle between minor lords. This means Nelson has no need to distort or oversimplify the politics of this land of many kings. Instead his story becomes a relatively clean-cut three-sided struggle between a Norwegian, a Dane and an Irishman. A little down the coast from Dublin, in the tiny Viking outpost of Vik-Ló - the germ of modern Wicklow - the local lord is a Dane known as Grimarr the Giant. Grimarr's pressing concern is the whereabouts of a missing treasure hoard he plundered from a local monastery and entrusted into a dead partner's keeping. Also keenly interested is a minor Irish king who hopes the missing hoard will help him shed that "minor" status.
As in the other volumes, secrets and betrayals will culminate in bloody hand-to-hand combat. The new locale and tighter focus offer a shiny new piece in the great mosaic it will take to depict the full riches of the historical clash between the Irish and assorted Scandinavian newcomers. A welcome addition in The Lord of Vik-Ló is Nelson's thorough coverage of the nuts and bolts - or strakes and varnish - of longship repair and the nuances of the ships' sailing and navigation. The flaws are minor: I wish the author would learn the difference between "lay" and "lie," and avoid the recently common misuse of "begs the question." I also still think he over-armors his Irish troops. But these small deficiencies do little to dampen the pleasure of following his deftly drawn warriors into another round of hard-hewing battle. (2015, 308 pages)More about The Lord of Vik-ló at Amazon.com