A Guest Review by Sammy
Review Summary: Bitter and violent enemies find the way to understanding and love.
Blurb: His deadliest enemy will become his heart’s desire.
Caius doesn’t feel like much of a Christian. He loves his life of learning as a monk in the far-flung stronghold of Fara, but the hot warrior blood of his chieftain father flows in his veins. Heat soothed only in the arms of his sweet-natured friend and lover, Leof.
When Leof is killed during a Viking raid, Cai’s grieving heart thirsts for vengeance—and he has his chance with Fenrir, a wounded young Viking warrior left for dead. But instead of reaching for a weapon, Cai finds himself defying his abbot’s orders and using his healing skills to save Fen’s life.
At first, Fen repays Cai’s kindness by attacking every Christian within reach. But as time passes, Cai’s persistent goodness touches his heart. And Cai, who had thought he would never love again, feels the stirring of a profound new attraction.
Yet old loyalties call Fen back to his tribe and a relentless quest to find the ancient secret of Fara—a powerful talisman that could render the Vikings indestructible, and tear the two lovers’ bonds beyond healing.
Review: To say much more than the blurb would be to give away the story…but the story…the profoundly beautiful story that deserves so much more than my meager words of endorsement. I am not a fan of historical novels. I so often find that there are inconsistencies and they tend to pull me out of the story and so, as a general rule, I tend to avoid them. Then this novel came along–from an author I respect and enjoy reading…and I thought…well, let me try this genre one more time.
When one looks up the definition of lyrical prose you find this:
“…lyrical prose is that in which the author employs a knowledge of not just the meaning of the words that are put together, but elements that are usually associated with music or poetry: tone, meter, diction, rhyme, rhythm, tempo. And when you read it out, it just flows; it’s not halting or choppy.”
I have just two words to add to that definition: Harper Fox. Brothers of the Wild North Sea is lyrical prose at its finest. The richness of the language, the depth of the characters, the way in which every word is placed not only moves the story along but creates incredibly lush pictures in your head of this bygone era in a country that has seen Vikings and monks and the harsh existence both endured. Along side this rich tapestry that Fox creates is the story of a love so inspiring, so selfless, so sweet that your heart aches over the decision these two men must make in order for their people to survive.
Never is there a moment in this novel that does not stay true to the legends it invokes. Our viking here, Fenrir continually battles his wild and bloodthirsty nature, and even in the loving of his Cai he remains what he was born to be–a viking prince, rough and domineering, sure of himself and his place in their world. The inherent beauty of this character, the thing that draws you again and again to him, to understanding his thinking, to falling just a bit in love with him, is how very true he remains throughout this story. The author sets him on a path, gives him life and never compromises him–so he remains fierce and strong and you just cannot help but be immersed in his life and passions by novel’s end.
And then there is Caius…Cai the monk, the physician, the firstborn son of a man who cannot see the value of knowledge but loves his son nonetheless. A monk who doubts his calling but strives to be what his people need. A man who loves deeply and fully despite the pain it may cause him. A man who struggles with the idea that he must lead when his heart tells him he is never going to truly be a leader. It is Cai’s flaws that make him so endearing. It is his humility that makes him so compelling to watch and learn about. It is his innate sense of right and wrong that makes you cheer him on, even as he must fight against the family of the man he loves. And it is his loyalty, his deep abiding love for Fen that slowly develops over the span of this novel to drown out the hate he should feel for this very same man that makes your heart sing and also weep at the beauty of his capacity to love.
This novel was, simply put, magnificent. It was a well written piece of literature whose characters and story line leapt off the page and thrust its way into your heart and mind leaving behind a lasting memory of a love that is ageless, of a brotherhood that is unbreakable, of a land that is beautiful beyond compare. Here is a story where the author so obviously loved every word she wrote and, by doing so, made us love it too. Dear reader, I highly recommend Brothers of the Wild North Sea by Harper Fox. It is brilliant.