*Thank you to HarperCollins for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review
I would recommend this book for ages fifteen and up.
Since the death of Ragnvald Eysteinsson’s father in battle, he has worked hard to protect his sister Svanhild and planned to inherit his family’s land when he comes of age. But when the captain of his ship tries to kill him on the way home from a raiding excursion, he must confront his stepfather’s betrayal, and find a way to protect his birthright. It is no easy feat in Viking-Age Norway, where a hundred petty rulers kill over parcels of land, and a prophesied high king is rising.
But where Ragnvald is expected to bleed, and even die, for his honour, Svanhild is simply expected to marry well. It’s not a fate she relishes, and when the chance to leave her stepfather’s cruelty comes at the hand of her brother’s arch-rival, Svanhild is forced to make the ultimate choice: family or freedom. (Goodreads)
I first heard of The Half-Drowned King on twitter and I was immediately interested. The premise sounded completely unique and their aren’t too many books that take place during the ninth century. Linnea manages to introduce the reader to a setting that is unfamiliar to most with ease. It was very clear that she put a lot of research into this novel and she knew what she was describing. I loved how she was able to relay the sense of pressure that Ragnvald, and all the characters, were put under. She also showed the constant underlying danger that they were all in.
Linnea was also able to fit two different narrators with two very different storylines into this book and make it cohesive. Unfortunately I enjoyed one of the storylines quite a bit more than the other. I felt like Ragnvald’s story started to drag and became repetitive. I really enjoyed the first 150 pages or so but then it started to lose steam near the middle. I was also surprised by the lack of action there was in The Half-Drowned King. Considering this book was about vikings, I was expecting quite of bit of action. This made the book feel even more slow moving and meticulous.
I’m always a fan of sibling relationships in books since they are pretty scarce when compared to romantic relationships. At first, I loved the bond that Ragnvald and Svanhild had but, in the end, I wasn’t as impressed. In the last couple of pages it seemed like they were two completely different characters than before and I wish that they had more time together throughout the novel.
I’m still not sure how I feel about The Half-Drowned King. I think if the length of it were cut down by about 100 pages it would be a much stronger opening to a new trilogy. My favorite parts were definitely the setting and underlying intrigue that Linnea described beautifully and realistically.
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