God of Vengeance is indeed a tale of vengeance, one that is as bloody and brutal as an evening in Valhalla. This is the first of 3 tales in the saga of Sigurd (The Rise of Sigurd) and I’m fairly certain if I had a beard as long as Olaf it would be been well and truly blown off!
“Let the enemy see the sword in my hand, but not the long dagger which I keep behind the back”
For those of you who have read Giles Kristian’s Raven trilogy you will know exactly who Sigurd, our main POV is. God of Vengeance is a prequel to the Raven tales and goes into the backstory of the lord of the crew of Fjord-Elk and his rise to becoming a formidable jarl. As I had read Raven’s saga prior to beginning this trilogy I really loved meeting some old friends and seeing their character’s when they were young(er) and it really added to the story for me. I can imagine reading this trilogy before the Raven books will only enhance that experience as well.
God of Vengeance is the story of Sigurd on the war-path to kill a jarl and a king who betrayed his father, Harald. The pacing here is superb, non-stop action and tense moments that merged into the next shield-wall to the next ship-battle to the next gory lopping off of heads and arms. I loved it. As a massive fan of Viking age combat I relished these scenes, feeling that Giles’ battle scenes have improved even more since the Raven trilogy. Tighter and bloodier fights that were all the more exhilarating. There are also some of the best duels I have read in a long time. If you are a fan of battles, small or large, on land or at sea, then here is a book for you.
“Sword and shield, flesh and bone, I am your man, Sigurd Haraldarson. As long as the sun shines and the world endures, henceforth and for evermore.”
The characters are brilliantly crafted. Norseman down to the broach on their cloaks, down to the bronze arm-rings. There are Viking sayings, similes, metaphors, reflections upon mythology and their geography – everywhere. It is seeping in history and authenticity, the language adding to every scene. The band of friends Sigurd has about him are hilarious, intense, being fiercely loyal to their young lord to then bantering him and others. Their relationships are real and tangible, written perfectly.
The story felt very Bernard Cornwell-esque, which is as high a compliment as I can give. Whilst being an overarching plot there was also room to finish threads and have a whole story inside one book here. There are no lulls in the story-telling where I switched off, only moments of respite and the development of relationships between a band of outlaws.
“Your father is not bothered with the weight of silver, but the weight of meaning. No one wants to be under other’s boot, not even the king’s.”
5/5 – God of Vengeance is a superior Viking-age tale that takes us along the weave of Sigurd, a young man heartbroken who seeks his vengeance. It is gory, brutal, hilarious and full of nordic flavour. Not to mention it’s bloody brilliant. Raise your mead-horn to a master of Viking sagas, and enjoy the ride on this formidable drakkar of a story.
Buy God of Vengeance by Giles Kristian