Bantam Press | 2016 (1 December) | 309p | Review copy | Buy the book
Wings of the Storm concludes, in a magnificent hardback, Giles Kristian’s mighty Viking Saga that chronicles Sigurd Haraldarson’s rise to glory in the later years of the 8th century. Before you step any further, do be aware that you need to have read God of Vengeance and Winter’s Fire first. This review, which, I’m honoured to say, opens the Wings of the Storm blog tour on publication day, assumes that you have so please tread carefully.
The fame of Sigurd is growing. Warriors, both male and female, have been drawn to his flame, attracted by the promise of arm rings, wealth and a noble hero’s death, iron weapon in hand. But Sigurd’s relentless mission, to confront the oath-breaker King Gorm, the betrayer of his people, killer of his family, has stalled. Sigurd and his warriors have become too useful to Alrik who needs them to defend his stolen hillfort from his great enemy, the jarl Guthrum. The rewards of success are high – boxes of iron and silver, even pieces of gold – but the price of failure is one Sigurd is not used to paying. But Guthrum is powerful, no easy man to beat, nor are his men, and Sigurd finds himself a captive, intended to be sacrificed to the gods in the sacred temple at Ubsala. But, as Sigurd regularly reminds Guthrum, Sigurd is Odin-favoured and the fate of us all lies within the gift of the gods.
Giles Kristian has Viking blood flowing through his veins and every page of this novel, and the trilogy, is enriched by the author’s inherent empathy for and understanding of the period that he so vividly and colourfully evokes. This is a saga set during a time and place that fascinate but can also seem remote and unknowable. Giles Kristian throws all of the shadows to one side and rewards us with an epic vision of heroism, war, vengeance, blood, warships, snowy mountains and thick forest, gods and feasting, that seems both real and a glorious dream. The characters are larger than life, literally at times, and yet, despite their objectives and their methods of attaining them, they are still recognisable human beings who have flaws, can suffer, can inflict great pain, and can die, every one of them. Sigurd’s trust and confidence in his gods seems unwavering but even Sigurd has his moments of doubt, particularly when a sword or axe is held at his throat.
Other much loved characters return with Sigurd, notably Floki, Olaf and Valgerd, but there are more added to their number and not all of them are who we’d expect. As Sigurd’s fame spreads so too does his appeal as leader. Sigurd might not yet be a jarl but he is close. The parallel story of Sigurd’s sister, Runa, also continues in Wings of the Storm, adding a tantalising glimpse of another part of this world, an island-bound community of warrior women.
Sigurd’s destiny shapes this novel and it is so satisfying to see the trilogy draw to its magnificent and breathtaking close. War, battle, blood pulses through the last exhilarating and traumatic third of the book and to call it intense is an understatement. There’s plenty of gore and violence but there’s also high emotion and these Vikings brought me to the edge of my seat.
The end of such a wonderful trilogy can be saddening as well as satisfying but Giles Kristian has given us a silver lining – the sensational Raven trilogy, which continues the saga of Sigurd, the favourite of the gods.
The Terror: a short story
God of Vengeance (Rise of Sigurd 1)
Winter’s Fire (Rise of Sigurd 2)
Raven: Blood Eye; Raven: Sons of Thunder; Raven: Odin’s Wolves
The Bleeding Land
With Wilbur Smith – Golden Lion
Find Giles Kristian online
I am so proud and chuffed to open the blog tour with this review. For other stops on the tour, please take a look at the poster below.