which means the predictability factor is rather high, although the book might work as a stand alone adventure novel in case you haven't read "Wolfsangel". The story of a relentless chase takes the reader from Paris besieged by Norsemen in 886 AD, through Frankish lands (and the Baltic sea), to the court of the Varangian ruler Helgi/Oleg at Aldeigjuborg/Staraya (Old) Ladoga: historical personages such as the Frank count Eudes/Odo and the Viking king Sigfrid make their appearances. With certain alterations, the focus is being on the fatalistic reenactment of the scenario encountered in the first book (a couple of flashback scenes for a reminder or a teaser), with a similar dose of attendant violence, carnage (involving necrophagy on one occasion). However, the female protagonist has a more pronounced role as she comes to terms with her innate/karmic ability to command rune magic, a feature that at times allows the author to extricate his players from a perilous situation in a somewhat deux-ex-machina manner.
The initially powerful antagonist duo of sorcery experts Hugin and Munin (named after god Odin's ravens) lose some of their creepiness once one of them has switched sides -- "It was bone-thin and wrapped in a cloak of black feathers, its black hair stuck into a shock with an oily tar, feathers within it sweeping up into a sort of black crown. Its face...was a terrible mess of scars, deep but tiny wounds, some festering and swollen, some healed and some still seeping blood. The creature reeked of corpses" (p. 75).
We have colourful characters in the person of the good-hearted, patronizing Viking called Ofaeti ("Fatty", in a sense reminescent of Bragi) and the Eastern Slavic elderly merchant Leshii who, unlike his Obotrite counterpart in the first intstallment of the trilogy, gradually gains my sympathy. One complaint, though, is that the mysterious tracker Chakhlyk exits the stage quite early...
Cleverly putting a new slant on the werewolf legend, this well-written Viking fantasy journeys through mythology, destiny, witchcraft and lost love. Great escapism as the believable characters, realistic scenarios and fastpaced plot bring the Dark Ages to life. - mXA highly entertaining read. A tale of bloody battles, berserkers, Viking kings, trickster gods and a brutal and bloody denouement which beautifully sets itself up for a sequel. - The Specusphere
The second volume of one of the most critically acclaimed fantasies of recent years.