REVIEW: Odin’s Wolves by Giles Kristian

Odin’s Wolves is superb and Giles Kristian has crafted one of the best historical fiction trilogies of … well, ever. I know I rave about them, but it is totally warranted. I adore the world in which Osric Blood Eye is a part of. Even though it is grim and gritty and terrifying, there is something about the band of warriors that sail the seas that gives me a warm feeling, and finishing this book left me feeling like I was desperate for more.

‘The blade gets dull if we don’t use it.’

It is rare to find a trilogy that has such supreme pacing that leaves you begging for more. Raven is a trio of books that definitely makes you crave for more of the tale, and leaves an opening for more. The sheer variety of set-pieces and content of each of these books covers nearly every aspect of dark-ages adventure that you could hope for. And Giles Kristian does it so well.

Odin’s Wolves pushes Osric into territories he has never been before. The adventure leads him through the seas escaping from Frankia. After meeting the iconic character Charlemagne, Kristian then writes the iconic places of Rome and Miklagard i.e Constantinople. The beauty and wonder of these places told through Osric’s eyes (or his non-blood eye) was written in an astounding way, making me wish I was shoulder-to-shoulder with Sigurd’s crew, experiencing the amphitheater and the duels, the Greek churches and the dragon-ships.

‘A wise guest knows when to leave the table.’

The crew added so much to Odin’s Wolves. The development of their relationships with Osric felt real and pure, some that bonded with him like brothers and others that thought of him as the bad luck of their Jarl. There are rivalries and bonds that are tested, strengthened, destroyed throughout this and you feel every emotion with Raven.

The realism is one of my favourite aspects of Odin’s Wolves. From the differences of cultures between the characters, to the details into the ships, equipment and mythologies, this was a Norse book through and through. I enjoyed it so much that I have been on a rowing machine in my Viking re-enactment kit. (It feels amazing. Toggle-boots, Thor’s hammer, hand-axe, I recommend this.) I can’t wait to dive into the books focused on Sigurd. He is a remarkable character, much akin to Bernard Cornwell’s Arthur, only with a longer beard and less prayer.

‘Glory is the prize that can never be burned, stolen by anyone or lost.’

5/5 – Beautiful, violent, intense and real. Odin’s Wolves is the final tale in a trilogy that will cement itself into your top 5 — easy (check out Ed’s reviews for Blood Eye and Sons of Thunder). A masterclass in pacing, character development and dark-ages realism, Odin’s Wolves is historical fiction at it’s finest. Skål to Giles Kristian!

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Edward Gwynne

Ed is a medieval re-enactor, spending his weekends hitting people with various shaped weapons. Ed is also a primary school teacher and spends the weekdays telling children not to hit people with various shaped weapons. He has been influenced by his brilliant dad to spend as much time reading fantasy and historical-fiction. Huzzah!