Wolfsangel

( 5 )

Overview

The Viking king Authun leads his men on a raid against an Anglo-Saxon village. Men and women are killed indiscriminately, but Authun demands that no child be touched. He is acting on prophecy—a prophecy which tells him that the Saxons have stolen a child from the gods. If Authun, in turn, takes the child and raises him as an heir, the child will lead his people to glory.

But Authun discovers not one child, but twin baby boys. After ensuring that his faithful warriors, witnesses ...

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Wolfsangel

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Overview

The Viking king Authun leads his men on a raid against an Anglo-Saxon village. Men and women are killed indiscriminately, but Authun demands that no child be touched. He is acting on prophecy—a prophecy which tells him that the Saxons have stolen a child from the gods. If Authun, in turn, takes the child and raises him as an heir, the child will lead his people to glory.

But Authun discovers not one child, but twin baby boys. After ensuring that his faithful warriors, witnesses to what has happened, die during the raid, Authun takes the children and their mother home, back to the witches who live on the troll wall. And he places his destiny in their hands.

So begins a stunning multivolume fantasy epic that will take a werewolf from his beginnings as the heir to a brutal Viking king down through the ages. It is a journey that will see him hunt for his lost love through centuries and lives, and see the endless battle between the wolf, Odin, and Loki, the eternal trickster, spill over into countless bloody conflicts from our history and our lives.

This is the myth of the werewolf as it has never been told before and marks the beginning of an extraordinary new fantasy series.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Sorcery and savagery fuel this rousing historical fantasy, the first volume in a planned multivolume epic. Acting on the witch Gullveig's prophecy, Viking raiders kidnap two infant brothers from a village. Wily and clever Vali is groomed to be Viking king Authun's heir, while Feileg is raised ferally as Gullveig's werewolf protector as she schemes against the god Odin. The boys enjoy adventures peculiar to their different upbringings until their mutual affection for farmer's daughter Adisla draws them together as comrades in arms as well as rivals in love. Lachlan (a pseudonym for Mark Barrowcliffe) keeps supernatural inflections to a minimum, opting instead for a colorful and credible evocation of the Norse world as one where the paths of gods and men frequently cross. Vivid in its rendering of the primitive historical past, this entertaining adventure will have readers eagerly anticipating the next book in the series. (Mar.)
From the Publisher
"Sorcery and savagery fuel this rousing historical fantasy...Vivid in its rendering of the primitive historical past, this entertaining adventure will have readers eagerly anticipating the next book in the series."
-Publishers Weekly
Library Journal
Viking ruler Authun, following a prophecy, steals twin boys from a Saxon village and raises one of them as his heir. When the brothers later meet, heir Vali and berserker-raised Feileg discover that they both have been touched by the curse of the wolf. When the woman they love is taken by raiders, the two search for her, linked in a bond of hate and love. Writing under a pseudonym, mainstream fiction and nonfiction writer Mark Barrowcliffe (The Elfish Gene) recasts the werewolf legend in the trappings of Norse culture and legend. VERDICT This somber series debut echoes the brooding atmosphere of Scandinavian myth and should appeal to a wide readership.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781616143572
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books
  • Publication date: 3/22/2011
  • Pages: 448
  • Sales rank: 1,453,936
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

MD Lachlan is the pen name of a successful writer of mainstream fiction and non fiction. He lives near London, England with his wife and children.
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Read an Excerpt

Wolfsangel


By M. D. LACHLAN

Prometheus Books

Copyright © 2011 M. D. Lachlan
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-61614-357-2


Chapter One

White Wolf

Varrin gripped the shaft of his spear and scanned the dark horizon, fighting for balance as the waves rocked the little longship. There, he was sure, was the river his lord had described, a broad mouth between two headlands, one like a dragon's back, the other like a stretching dog. It fitted well enough, he thought, if you looked at it with half an eye.

"Lord Authun, king, I think this is it."

The man sitting in his cloak with his back to the prow awoke. His long white hair seemed almost to shine under the bright lantern of the half-moon. He stood slowly, his limbs stiff with inaction and the cold. He turned his attention to the shore.

"Yes," he said, "this is as was revealed."

Varrin, a giant of a man a head and a half taller than the king, touched the amulet he wore at his neck at the mention of prophecy. "We wait until dawn and then try the river, lord?"

Authun shook his head.

"Now," he said. "Odin is with us."

Varrin nodded. Normally he would have regarded it as very unwise to negotiate an unknown river in the dark. With his king at his side, anything felt possible. Authun was a Volsung, a direct descendant of the gods and was a vessel for their powers.

The tide was slow but with the boat, and the crew were well rested from the favourable wind that had carried them for a couple of days and eager to get to the oars. Everything was going well, and no wonder with the king on board. His magic, Varrin felt sure, had blessed their journey.

The men bent their backs pulling through the waves, propelling themselves at speed towards the river. The ship was more stable under oar than under sail and its sudden steadiness seemed to reflect the purpose Varrin felt as he heaved the boat through the surf. They were going into a fight, no question, and Varrin was ready.

Ten warriors crewed the ship, only ten including the king, but Varrin felt no uncertainty, nor scarcely any nervousness. He was with his lord, King Authun, victor of innumerable battles, slayer of the giant Geat, Gyrd the Mighty. If Authun thought ten men were enough for their task then ten men were enough. It was a trick of the gods that such a man had not produced an heir. The rumour was that Authun was of the line of Odin, the chief of the gods. That battle-fond poet felt threatened by his fierce descendant and had cursed Authun to sire only female children. He could not risk him producing an even mightier son.

Varrin shivered when he thought of the consequences if Authun did not father a boy. He would have to name an heir, with all the trouble and bloodshed that would cause. Only Authun's name held the factions of his kingdom together. Without it, there would be slaughter and then their enemies would pounce. He glanced at the king and smiled to himself. He wouldn't put it past him to live forever.

Varrin looked into the black hills and wondered why they had come to that land. It was more than just to plunder, it seemed, because their ship had slipped away from a quiet beach a day up the coast from their hall, no kinsmen to bid them farewell, no feasting before they left. Only the war gear, the bright heads of the axes, a shield decorated with a painted wolf's head, another with a raven, spoke of their mission. The images bore a clear message to their enemies: "We will make a feast for these creatures."

They rushed upon the river's mouth but slowed as the water became more shallow. They did not stop for soundings; Authun just made his way to the prow of the ship and leaned out over the water, directing the rudderman. Varrin smirked to the man at the oar opposite as the ship slid into the river like a knife into a sheath. The other oarsman, a young man of seventeen or so who had never travelled with Authun before, grinned back. "You were right—he is incredible," his expression said. They were proud of their king.

The flood tide took them up the river. The channel became perilous and narrow, split into the land between sharp cliffs and hard boulders, but the king found the course. An hour inland with the dark tight about them, their only light a pale slice of moon high in the sky, the push of the current began to fade and the rowing got harder. In front of them a sandbank loomed midstream and Authun signalled for the boat to beach upon it. The small ship was designed for just such a landing and grounded with a slight judder.

Authun turned to his men and spoke their names in turn.

"Vigi, Eyvind, Egil, Hella, Kol, Vott, Grani, Arngeir. We are kinsmen and sworn brothers. There can be no lies between us. None of you shall return from this journey. Only Varrin will come back with me to the coast to steer the ship. By the time the sun rises you will all be feasting with your forefathers in the halls of Odin or Freya."

The men largely received the news of their impending deaths without expression. They were warriors, raised with the certainty of death in battle. A couple smiled, pleased that they would die at their king's side.

"I would die with my kinsmen," said Varrin.

"Your time will come soon enough," said Authun.

He looked at Varrin, the nearest he had to a friend. The giant would be needed to get the boat back into the river and to help him with whatever perils they faced back down the whale road to their home. After that he would let him die.

"I have no responsibility to tell you why you must die, other than it is my will that you should. But know that they will sing tales of your deeds until the world ends. We are here to take a magic child, one who will secure the future of our people forever and one who will be my heir."

"What of the child your wife carries?" said Varrin.

"There is no child," said Authun. "It is a deception of the mountain witches."

The men drew in breath. Authun was a good king, fair and generous, a giver of rings. He had never even killed a slave in drunkenness, as kings were wont to do. This was shocking news, though. The men despised liars and this was very near to a lie. Also, it bore the mark of magic, and women's magic at that.

The warriors shifted in their seats. Death did not scare them; they found it as companionable as a dog. But the mountain witches terrified them. Only the king, half a god himself, could speak to the witches and even he had to be wary. Their advice had proved true in the past but the sacrifices they demanded were terrible and always the same—children: boys for servants, girls to continue their strange traditions.

"The child is a captive in the village here, taken from the sorcerers of the far west," said Authun. "He is a son of the gods and will lead us to greatness. These farmers do not yet realise what they have. We will part them from it before they do. The village is defended only by farmers but there are warriors not two hours' ride away."

He looked out into the dark. Somewhere in the distance the sky was taking on a soft pink glow.

"Their beacons are lit," he said. "We can expect opposition. We will find the child with a priest of their god. The building is marked like this, as their holy places are." He made a cross with his fingers. "Follow me as we fight to their temple, then we cut our way back to the boat. By that time the tide will have turned and I will leave you to your glory. You will be heroes and your fame will be everlasting. The village is five bends of the river away. Prepare."

The men nodded and went quietly to their work. Spears were unstrapped from the rear of the ship, helmets and thick tunics taken from barrels, war axes unpacked and tied to their backs. Varrin and Egil had the honour of dressing the king, helping him into his precious mail hauberk—a byrnie, as the men called it—and placing the golden wolf helm, symbol of his family, onto his head. The helmet was the best that could be made, open at the face save for shining cheek guards that made it look as if a giant wolf was swallowing Authun's head from the rear. From a distance, in the splendid helmet, his eyes blackened with soot, the king would appear as a terrifying wolf-headed man. The warriors placed rings on the king's arms, tied a golden belt at his waist, and took off his sea cloak and put on one of golden thread.

Varrin passed the king his shield with its snarling wolf's head. Then it was time to take out the sword, the only one on the boat, in its white-jewelled scabbard. As Varrin took it from its storage barrel, it caught the moonlight. It was a sword unlike any other. The Norse blades were short and straight, useful for hacking close up in conjunction with a shield. This sword though was long and thin with a pronounced curve to it. It was stronger than any straight sword and, though lighter, had cut through enemy weapons many times. Authun had bought it for a fortune from a southern merchant who said it came from "beyond the dawn"—by which Authun had supposed he meant the east. Wherever it came from, Authun knew it was enchanted, forged—as the merchant said—by magical smiths in the legendary kingdoms of the sands. The merchant had named it Shamsir, and Authun had kept the name as it seemed to contain the stir of the desert winds, or at least how he imagined they would sound. His men called it the Moonsword.

The king was ready. In his war gear he looked terrible and splendid, a god. In fact, compared to his kinsmen, Authun had little taste for ornamentation. The display was for a reason—to inspire awe in his foes. Varrin looked at the king. The West Men would need their courage, he thought. Before long the others were ready too. Authun filled their drinking horns himself.

"To the endless feasts in the halls of the slain," said Hella.

"To the endless feasts in the halls of the slain," replied the rest of the men, under their breath in case the enemy should be nearby. They all drank a deep draught, and then another. The horns were refilled and refilled as the boat was prodded by oar from the sandbank and got under way again, rounding the bends towards their prey. As Authun had noted, they had been seen. The West Men were no fools and kept watch on the mouths of the rivers. Already, even before the village came into view, they could see the flickering lights of its warning beacons filling the sky. They would have to be quick, to strike before a body of men could be mustered to face them. No matter, they were used to that.

The final bend was taken and Varrin had the impression of a village already being sacked. The beacons were blazing all along the beach and up a hill. The fires revealed what Varrin considered a very large settlement of twenty houses leading up to a building with a cross on its roof. Well, at least they knew where it was.

The West Men had been clever. The beach was backed by cut staves on top of a cliff the height of a man. There was only one entrance to the settlement from the river, a gap you would struggle to fit a cart through. It would have been easy to defend had the defenders been proper warriors. Even from the boat in the flickering firelight Varrin could see by the way the men held their spears and shields that they were more used to tilling fields than fighting. There were gaps in their shield wall and a couple of spears pointed at the moon. They would have been better advised to direct their tips to the invaders, because the moon wasn't going to cut off their heads.

The king was the first off the boat, splashing into the knee-deep water and walking up the beach at the pace of a man carrying a basket of mussels rather than a warrior facing his enemy. The troop followed him, three behind, then four in a shield wedge. Two remained on the boat to guard it.

Twenty yards from the enemy, Authun stopped and his men began to rattle their weapons on their shields, to bay and howl like beasts. Those who still had drink finished it and cast the horns aside. Four horns a man, enough to be courageous, not enough to be clumsy. Authun stepped forward, unsheathing the Moonsword, the torchlight turning its metal to fire. His helm too seemed to burn, the jewels of the wolf's eyes sparkling out a bloodlust.

The king lifted his sword high and screamed, "I am Authun the Wolf, king of the sword-Horda, sacker of the five towns, son of Odin, lord of battle! No man has ever faced me and lived. See the plunder I have taken!"

He waved the sword again, its blade bright in the light of the moon and the fire. The torches caught the jewels on the wolf's eyes, turned the rings on the king's arms to burning snakes, and made the scabbard of his sword dance like fire itself. His cloak seemed alive with sparks and even his mouth, the teeth inlaid with tiny red sapphires, seemed to burn. Only the space where his eyes should have been seemed dead, dead and pitiless.

To the West Men, Authun seemed a strange, glittering eyeless alien, and they knew there was only one place you obtained wealth like that. In battles, and plenty of them.

The enemy understood only a word or two of what the king said but were cowed by the force of his delivery. It could have been a spell and, even if it wasn't, the meaning of his message was clear: prepare to die. Imagination blended with fear and, to some of the West Men, it seemed that the king really did have the head of a wolf, that his wolf banner, held high by Vott, did snarl and snap in the breeze. A couple of boys fell away and ran. Three men at the rear melted off to go back to their wives and children and get them away. From somewhere a bowman, his aim made unreliable by fear, landed arrows into the sand ten paces away from Authun's feet. The king didn't move. The arrows had dropped quite softly, meaning the bow was at the limit of its range and, even if the archer improved his shooting, Authun thought himself well covered on that side by his helmet and shield. His impassive posture terrified the West Men. A spearman in the front rank ran, dropping his shield, and the others, paralysed by the sight of the sparkling, fearful king, did not move to close the gap. The raiders charged.

The farmers were not quick enough to flee, but their instinct, to step back and lift their spears under the onslaught, was fatal. The king, transformed from the cold old man who had sat in the boat, knocked two men down with his shield charge. A third, who had dropped his spear in fright, had his leg taken off at the knee by a flash of the Moonsword. Varrin and Egil, in the raiders' second rank, struck at two more with their spears. The men deflected the blows but the fight had left them and they fled. Fear is catching. Two heartbeats after the king had felled his first opponent, the West Men ran for it. Only one man had been cut down but panic had set in.

"To the temple, before the warriors arrive," shouted Authun. Varrin quickly killed the fallen man with his knife and then swiped off his head with a couple of blows from his axe. He put the head on his spear and held it up as a warning to any others that might try their luck.

The Norsemen drove on up the hill in their wedge formation. As they went they cut down two beacons and flung them onto the roofs of houses. This wasn't wanton destruction. The more confusion and fear they could create the better. Ideally the villagers would flee and hamper the progress of any of their lord's men who were rushing to meet the invaders. Authun knew that success depended on getting to the child before significant resistance could be mustered. West Men nobles were a different proposition to farmers. They were raised as warriors from their earliest years and he didn't want to have to cut his way through such men to get what he wanted.

Up the hill they rushed. Here and there farmers armed with clubs and spears would stand taunting them for a few breaths, screaming defiance, but they would always run before the raiders came through them.

"You promised us death, lord!" shouted Eyvind. "These cowards will keep me waiting forever to begin my feasting!"

"You will be drunk with your father and his father before the night is out!" shouted Authun.

The church—though the Norsemen didn't know it by that name—was a squat wooden building like the rest in the village, and a solid one. Authun tried the door. It was shut fast. He nodded to the roof. Sigur and Egil crouched, their hands improvising a stirrup. Young Eyvind ran at the side of the building and the two bigger men thrust him up onto the thatch. In three bounds he was at the smoke vent, his formidable axe free from its strap.

"Kill no children!" shouted the king.

Eyvind disappeared from view through the hole at the apex of the roof. Ten heartbeats later the door was open and the other raiders were inside.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from Wolfsangel by M. D. LACHLAN Copyright © 2011 by M. D. Lachlan. Excerpted by permission of Prometheus Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Average Rating 3.5
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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 28, 2011

    Interesting

    Lachlan tackles a huge project in this book and the result is a strange and interesting tale. While the start of the book was less than stellar, plauged by flat characters and relationships which felt forced, once the adventure picks up Lachlan does a great job of holding the reader's interest. The story is set mostly in Viking Age Scandinavia. Lachlan shows that a lot of research went into this work, and also takes a great deal of artistic freedom (Viking Age students and scholars should keep in mind that despite the obvious research put into this, Lachlan ultimately wrote a fantasy story). In many ways this story is very unpredictable; while the plot goes exactly where one expects it to, the manner of its arrival is where Lachlan excels. All in all, I certainly recomend this book, even if you don't plan to stick with the series. This novel can be read alone, and is interesting enough to at least have a small taste of.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 28, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Using Norse mythology, M.D. Lachlan tells a rnthralling quest fantasy

    King Authun leads his men on a raid of a village; but before they arrive at their destination he warns them they will all die. None are afraid as warriors prefer death in combat. The monarch's mission is to find the royal heir to his throne as prophesied by the Queen of the witches. In a Christian church, Authun finds twin male babies. He takes the pair with him leaving behind his loyal soldiers except one to die. In the North Sea his last comrade raises his sword in combat before diving to his death as no one except the witch, the king and his wife will know the heir's origin.

    Several years later, one of the infants Prince Vali the heir lives with a rival ruler. He loves Adisla and prefers working the land rather than fighting for land. When raiders attack, Vali uses strategy to defend the village successfully though they capture Adisla. Those he saved from certain death loath Vali for using unacceptable tactics as the warrior credo insists on fighting to the death. Cerebral Vali and his feral brother Feileg raised by the Witch Queen as a warrior wolf join on a quest to rescue Adisla though neither realizes they are related. The adventures of the twins are just beginning.

    Using Norse mythology, M.D. Lachlan tells a strong quest fantasy that contains two distinct yet related story lines. The first described above is a sword and sorcery thriller while the other subplot involved the intrusion of the Gods on the lives of mortals. Fast-paced and loaded with plenty of action while establishing the Lachlan world order and setting up future escapades; readers will be hooked as the twins chase after raiders to rescue Adisla. Interestingly even with long stretches without either of the polar opposite twin stars, Wolfsangel enchants the audience.

    Harriet Klausner

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted October 27, 2012

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    Posted December 21, 2011

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    Posted December 18, 2011

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