Bantam | 2022 (24 February) | 336p | Review copy | Buy the book
Erik Amdahl is tormented by nightmares since the death of his daughter Emilie, wanting nothing more than to keep his remaining daughter Sofia safe. But Sofia is becoming a teenager and, finally, Erik accepts that he must fulfil old promises made to both daughters and take Sofia on a great adventure, on the ‘Long Ski’ through the dramatic wilderness of north Norway. But it doesn’t go as planned. A place they presume to be safe turns out to be far from it and soon they must ski for their lives, pursued by ruthless killers, heading deeper and deeper into the glaciers, mountains and forests of an ice-gripped landscape.
Giles Kristian can do no wrong in my eyes. He is a superb storyteller, one of the very finest writing today, and now after some outstanding historical novels on the Vikings, the English Civil War and the post-Roman Britain of Arthur and Lancelot, he has written a modern thriller set in a country that he knows so very well. The topic and setting might be different from his previous novels but there is a connection. There is a spirituality and mythology to this snowy, lethal, beautiful environment that Erik’s Viking ancestors would recognise. Erik is taken to the very limit of his endurance, like one of Giles Kristian’s other heroes, like the Viking Sigurd or Raven or Lancelot. In times of such extremis one looks beyond the natural world for comfort and, in places of such beauty and danger, that other world can be found in the surrounding rocks, rivers, trees and animals. The local Sami people are wise about their environment and this must be protected.
Where Blood Runs Cold is as beautifully written as the author’s other novels. It shares the same feel of place as well as a strong sense of danger, great tension and, on occasion, violence. It is a thriller and so the reader expects excitement! They get it here. It is a hunt and pursuit with the extreme cold proving equally as dangerous as the killers at their heels. But there are still quiet times, when the father and daughter hide in their dug-out snow caves, and they bond and remember Emilie. The relationship between Erik and Sofia is tender and one’s heart goes out to Sofia who just wants to help her Pappa when she is at the very limit herself.
I love wintry thrillers and I am fascinated by Norway, a country I want to visit very much. I found Where Blood Runs Cold thoroughly exciting but I also found myself caught up in the story of a father and daughter coming together in the most dangerous of situations. Giles Kristian has demonstrated that not only can he make any period of history his own but that he can also master a new genre entirely. Not that this was a surprise to me! He is a wonderful writer whose books belong on your shelf.
God of Vengeance (Rise of Sigurd 1)
Winter’s Fire (Rise of Sigurd 2)
Wings of the Storm (Rise of Sigurd 3)
Raven: Blood Eye; Raven: Sons of Thunder; Raven: Odin’s Wolves
The Terror: a short story
The Bleeding Land
With Wilbur Smith – Golden Lion