"Linnea Hartsuyker brings myth and legend roaring to life in this superbly good page-turning saga of Viking-era Norway. The book’s fiercest magic shines in the characters of Ragnvald and Svanhild, as unforgettable a brother and sister duo as I can remember. Linnea Hartsuyker is an exciting, original voice in historical fiction, and The Half-Drowned King is nothing short of mesmerizing."—Paula McLain, bestselling author of The Paris Wife and Circling the Sun
An exhilarating saga of the Vikings that conjures a brutal, superstitious, and thrilling ninth-century world and the birth of a kingdom—the debut installment in a historical literary trilogy that combines the bold imagination and sweeping narrative power of Game of Thrones, Vikings, and Outlander.
Centuries ago, in a blood-soaked land ruled by legendary gods and warring men, a prophecy foretold of a high king who would come to reign over all of the north. . . .
Ragnvald Eysteinsson, the son and grandson of kings, grew up believing that he would one day take his dead father’s place as chief of his family’s lands. But, sailing home from a raiding trip to Ireland, the young warrior is betrayed and left for dead by men in the pay of his greedy stepfather, Olaf. Rescued by a fisherman, Ragnvald is determined to have revenge for his stepfather’s betrayal, claim his birthright and the woman he loves, and rescue his beloved sister Svanhild. Opportunity may lie with Harald of Vestfold, the strong young Norse warrior rumored to be the prophesied king. Ragnvald pledges his sword to King Harald, a choice that will hold enormous consequence in the years to come.
While Ragnvald’s duty is to fight—and even die—for his honor, Svanhild must make an advantageous marriage, though her adventurous spirit yearns to see the world. Her stepfather, Olaf, has arranged a husband for her—a hard old man she neither loves nor desires. When the chance to escape Olaf’s cruelty comes at the hands of her brother’s arch rival, the shrewd young woman is forced to make a heartbreaking choice: family or freedom.
Set in a mystical and violent world defined by honor, loyalty, deceit, passion, and courage, The Half-Drowned King is an electrifying adventure that breathtakingly illuminates the Viking world and the birth of Scandinavia.
About the Author
Linnea Hartsuyker can trace her family lineage back to the first king of Norway, and this inspired her to write her debut novel, The Half-Drowned King, the first book in her trilogy about the Vikings, which was published by HarperCollins in the US, and internationally in six other countries. The Half-Drowned King was an Indie Next and a Barnes and Noble Discover Pick, and was named the best historical fiction book of 2017 by the American Library Association. Linnea grew up in the woods outside Ithaca, New York, studied Engineering at Cornell University, and later received an MFA in Creative Writing from NYU.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This is such an underrated novel and I really enjoyed it. Firstly, I'm game for historical fiction - overly sexualized love stories tend to push me away from it, but I actually really like historical fiction and felt like I didn't read enough of it last year. So I'm wicked happy The Half-Drowned King popped up on my TBR. It's got a little of everything from viking culture - their gender roles, their economy and culture, and just the right amount of politics and raiding. This felt like more of a story about vikings with Ragnvald, Svanheld, and Solvi as tour guides than a vicious revenge story, and I am 100% okay with that. Everything of a historian in me was GLEEFUL about the way this story is told. It feel steeped in reality - nothing sensational about it. I did a bit of poking around after I finished, and discovered that a lot of the characters are either inspired by someone real, or WERE someone real. We don't have a lot of information about the vikings simply because they existed largely in the ninth century - over 1100 years ago - so this is a fantastic platform for historical fiction. Okay - reining in my history nerd. The characters were well-developed and fit into their time period. That latter bit is important - it's very easy to insert modern understanding into historical contexts and its the historian's job NOT to do that... so I think Hartsuyker did a fantastic job of making these characters feel both historically real AND still relatable. I think that some people will be bored with the pacing. I'm sure many people will go into this and think: AHA! VIKINGS! VIOLENCE! but that's not how this novel works at all. There's a lot of time on land, in politics and family life. The bits of violence are quick and real. There's even one battle where Ragnvald seems disappointed about how easy it was. There's nothing sensational about this novel, so don't go in looking for HIGH ADVENTURE and GORY BATTLE SCENES because they're just not in this one. I really, really liked this book and thought it was so different from anything I've read - both in YA and historical fiction. I'm definitely going to keep an eye on Linnea Hartsuyker's writing, and pick up the rest of this series.
Kept the pages turning.
The detail, prose, characters, and story line was excellent