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The Unbroken Line of the Moon (The Valhalla Series Book 1) by [Hildebrandt, Johanne]
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The Unbroken Line of the Moon (The Valhalla Series Book 1) Kindle Edition

4.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Length: 465 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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From the Editor

As an avid Game of Thrones fan and someone with an abiding interest in Vikings and their violent history, I was mesmerized by the story of Sigrid and her scheming relatives, riveted to see how she’d navigate the intrigues of medieval kingmaking and how her Norse gods and goddesses would fare in their brutal struggle against encroaching Christianity.

What the story lacks in dragons it makes up for in deities, Fates and vengeful spirits, all of whom conspire to bring Sigrid together with a man who not only is her true love, but is also destined by the gods to father future kings and queens.

By turns dramatic, magical, violent and shocking, The Unbroken Line of the Moon thoroughly transported me to a time we know little about but which was seminal in the foundation of Northern Europe. Author Johanne Hildebrandt’s well-researched world shimmers on the page, history made living and unforgettable, with a mystical sheen. I hope that you’ll want to finish the book in one sitting, as I did, and that you’ll be excited to read the next instalment of The Valhalla Series, arriving in 2017.

- Elizabeth DeNoma, Editor

Product description

Product Description

In this savage saga of love, war, lust, and magic set in the tenth century, young Sigrid is destined to be the mother of the king of the Nordic lands that would become Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and England.

A devout believer in the old Nordic gods, Sigrid is visited regularly in her dreams by the goddess Freya, who whispers to her of the future. Though Sigrid is beautiful, rich, arrogant, and matchlessly clever, her uncanny ability to foresee the future and manipulate the present guides her through dangerous politics as a bloody war between Vikings and Christians rages on.

Sigrid’s father wants her to marry Erik, a local king, to secure the peace between the Goths and the Swedes. Thinking she is doing Freya’s will, she accepts the marriage offer, only to find that her destiny lies not with Erik but with Sweyn, a warrior who dreams of dethroning Harald Bluetooth, the legendary ruler of Denmark. Will Sigrid sacrifice her will for the greatest Viking kingdom of all time, or will she follow her heart at the risk of losing everything?

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 3851 KB
  • Print Length: 465 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1503939081
  • Publisher: AmazonCrossing (1 October 2016)
  • Sold by: Amazon Australia Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Screen Reader: Supported
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #75,069 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)

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Took me a while to get into it. Probably because I was unfamiliar with the vikings, their lives, ceremonies, gods, and history. And there are lots of characters. So, a 3 star at first, but a four as the book went on, to reveal a fascinating historical setting, and interesting characters. Warfare is never clean, but beware, there are some graphic violent scenes.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program) 4.0 out of 5 stars 879 reviews
287 of 292 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A woman to rule them all! 3 September 2016
By kh - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This novel is an interesting weaving of the stories of Sigrid “the Haughty,” a semilegendary Viking-age queen of Sweden, and Sweyn, the illegitimate son of King Harald “Bluetooth.” The author is an award-winning Swedish war correspondent, and she masterfully “covers” the ambitions of the story’s myriad Viking warriors in a sober and sobering style, in all its brutality and humanity. It’s almost like we were getting war bulletins from a journalist embedded at the Battle of Fyrisvellir in ca. 900 AD. But that is only the backdrop.

Unfolding parallel to it is the story of Sigrid, who starts the tale as a silly, naive teenager but grows over time to become a queen ruling in her own right. That journey is told very lovingly and with sweeping scope.

Despite the authenticity of Viking brutality, this book I think is first and foremost a sort of feminist “bildungsroman,” reminiscent of other sweeping sagas like “Clan of the Cave Bear” or “Mists of Avalon.” This is in no way some Harlequin romance, however. The author applies the same bluntness and frankness in talking about war as she does in talking about Sigrid’s experience as woman very much in a man’s world. She doesn’t shy away from topics like rape and menstruation and infidelity etc. With this blunt sensibility, the novel really is typically Scandinavian (other reviewers seem surprised at the Scandinavianness of the book, which is what surprises me—it’s a story set in the brutal Viking age written by a Swedish war correspondent, for goodness’ sake!).

This is a Swedish novel set over a thousand years ago about Sigrid becoming a queen regnant (i.e., not merely the wife of a king), so you might think the course of Sigrid’s life to feel unfamiliar. But author writes a Sgrid who is extremely relatable to us today. I found myself really rooting for her and caring about her fate.

The text reminds me less of “Game of Thrones,” as others have pointed out, and more of the History Channel series “Vikings.” For instance, it is historically accurate inasmuch as possible, e.g., almost all of the characters in the book worship the Norse gods, and the author does a stupendous job bringing this unfamiliar-to-most world view accurately and engagingly to life. This is a pre-Christian world with a non-Christian outlook.

Finally, the author and translator have done a great job with the Norse mythology in the book. Readers don't need any special prior knowledge to follow the story and will probably learn a fair amount all while reading a gripping story. I really enjoyed the use of authentic quotes from surviving historical texts (e.g., the Völuspá, etc.) That was a real treat.

The translation is excellent, by the way. It reads as though the author had written it in English in the first place, which is impressive given the Swedish lens on Viking history that the American reader is invited to look through.

This a gripping story. The characters are nicely fleshed out, and it effectively evokes a distant time. This is the best kind of armchair traveling. Can't wait for the next one in what will hopefully be a series. History without the women erased. Wonderful!
521 of 568 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 2-2-17 UPDATE - WARNING Mature Content & Themes: Disturbing, Graphic Tale, "The Unbroken Line of the Moon" 2 September 2016
By Travis C - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase

As indicated below, subsequent to the original review, I came to greatly appreciate the value of the impact upon my inner self so much that I raised the star rating to five stars. Subsequent to that, I ordered the Audible recording through Amazon at the ridiculously low price of $1.99, so I can listen when I can't read, and so I can list while I read - I love Whispersync for audio.

Furthermore, I have pre-ordered the second book in the series, scheduled for release October 17, 2017. Let's hope it evokes some of the same emotions of "The Unbroken Line of the Moon." Here is a link where that book can be found for pre-order: The Valhalla Series (2 Book Series)

** ** **

This translated book has graphic scenes of violent sex that many readers may find revolting. To be fair, I believe the author has provided images true to the times and of the society depicted. Nonetheless, readers must be forewarned – I wish the book description had provided just such a disclaimer.

I am concerned that many review readers are going to be exasperated by this review, but this story has scratched my soul in ways that demand that I pour out my gut feelings, for whatever they might mean. I also feel that this review may be of more importance to many people than most reviews, due to the moral effect of certain passages.

Quick Overview

If, like me, you find yourself wishing to learn more in regards to your Viking heritage by reading historical fiction set in the time of your roots, I have this advice: Be careful what you wish for, because the truth of your heritage may be revolting…

I had an incredible challenge in selecting my Kindle First book this month. Each of them had an inkling of promise, but also seemed likely to disappoint. Honestly, I think I picked precisely the wrong book for my tastes. Still, I look at it as a growth experience.

You see, every autumn a Nordic festival is held in Minot, a town not far from my home. I get a chance to seek camaraderie with my Viking roots at the Norse Hostfest.

Well, of course, that led me to choose an historical fiction novel about the Norsemen at the turn of the first millennium. There are some things secrets buried in my heritage that, for me at least, are best buried and left undisturbed. Many of the musings in this book, although perhaps not specifically true to the characters shown, are a truth that we Viking descendants may be wise to remember, lest we delve too deeply into judging the woes and ills of other cultural groups.

In other words, I abhorred aspects so rudely displayed in this authentic historical tale. At the same time, I am humbled and I have grown as a person by exposing myself to the essential truths at center stage in “The unbroken Line of the Moon.” More to the point, I could not easily read this tale. Yet, neither could I toss the book into the dust bin…this is a revolting, disgusting tale that I got addicted to…

Length: Print, 464 pages; Audible, 14 hours 30 minutes.

Q - Target Audience/Genre and is it marketed as Nonfiction or Fiction:
A – Historical Fiction - Mature audiences.

Q - How was this book obtained?
A – This was my free Kindle First selection as a member of Amazon Prime.

Q – If this is fiction, is it a plot-driven or a character-driven story?
A – Character development loosely based on historical characters.

Q - Is this a book that I can read without having to read others first?
A – Yes. This is the first in a series.

Q – If this is a recurring character or a series, does it have a cliffhanger ending?
A – There is no cliffhanger ending. Of course, it is clear from the ending of this novel that more is coming.

Q - Are there a lot of typos/misspellings, grammatical errors or other editing failures?
A – No.

Q - Is this a fast, easy read or is it more of a leisure read?
A – This is a leisure read.

Q - What sort of language does this writer use to amplify the points made?
A – Mild, occasional cussing but no f-bombs. Mostly the cussing is the damX word and the slang term for certain aspects of the male and female anatomy, especially in regards to scenes of sex and rape.

Q – What age group is this suitable for?
A – Due to the graphic scenes of violent sex, if this were a film it would be rated either PG-17 or R.

Q - My biggest pleasure or disappointment?
A – My biggest disappointment was the lack of a warning regarding the violent sex. Mind you, I also found those scenes pertinent to grasping the truth of the times and the darker side of the Viking heritage, so I would not keep censure those scenes. They are a bitter pill, but are necessary.

To give a feel for the editing, and the style and flow of this work, I am posting a brief excerpt below.


‘…He grabbed her breast and squeezed so hard she squealed.

“Good catch,” Toste yelled, approaching.

Fear started prickling through Emma like cold needles. She closed her eyes and called out for Kára. Come to me. Save me. Emma tried to break the grip around her waist, but Toste picked her up in his arms.

“You part your legs, yearning and enticing,” Toste said with a laugh and tossed her on the ground.

The laughing warriors tore off her dress, then held her so tightly she couldn’t move. Now she was really scared, her heart beating so hard it was going to burst out of her chest. Toste pulled her to him.

Mistress, I beg you. Help me!

The blow struck her right in the mouth, hard hands held her arms, drunken laughs echoed as Toste lay down on top of her, so heavy she could hardly breathe.

Fear washed over her like cold waves. It froze and paralyzed her. She couldn’t move or escape from his wet mouth, which pressed against hers.

Kára, help me.

“You’ll get what you yearned for after you part your legs and offer yourself up.”

Emma screamed and kicked, but Toste hit her in the face again, this time so hard he almost knocked her out.

“Shut up!” he growled and dug out his pr!^k.

“I beg you,” she whispered as the men’s sticky desire all but suffocated her.

“You’ll get what you’re asking for.”

Toste’s eyes were glassy and vacant. Emma whimpered with pain as he pushed his way into her. It felt like a knife driving in between her legs. He panted and grunted on top of her, as she now knew he’d done to her mother. Palna had told her everything that evening in Lejre. Chafing beard against her mother’s face, stinking lust mixed with mead. Her own father was thrusting into her, puffing and panting. His sweat dripped onto her face. She closed her eyes as he…’

Hildebrandt, Johanne. The Unbroken Line of the Moon (The Valhalla Series Book 1) (Kindle Locations 3505-3521). Amazon Crossing. Kindle Edition.

Bottom Line:

A difficult tale to ‘enjoy,’ if that is the correct word. A sort of a Pandora’s Box. Once opened, you cannot easily close it back up. So, beware my warning of disturbing, revolting violent sex and despicable people of a forgotten era. Once you start, you may be unable to stop reading this evocative, wrenching, crude tale…

I shudder when realizing this is a translated work. I can’t imagine how I might react if I were able to read this tome in its original language. I have put the audible version in my Audible wish list, but am undecided as to whether I actually will dare listen to it. It is THAT good and THAT haunting.

Part of me wants to burn every copy of this novel so nobody can learn what I discovered. Yet, my more democratic nature says that a tale this powerful can only be rated five stars out of five.

Comments regarding your opinion of this book or of my review, whether favorable or unfavorable, are always welcome. If you buy the book based on my review and become disappointed, especially, I do want to know that and I want to understand how I can improve as a book reviewer. Just please be polite.

Thank you.
158 of 170 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Worked for This Game of Thrones Lover 2 September 2016
By Spencer in Seattle - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition
I only got into this book because I got hooked on Game of Thrones. I tried watching the TV version of Game of Thrones, and it just didn't do it for me like the book. (I also tried watching Vikings, another TV series, and almost died laughing at most of the episodes I watched.) Anyway, it was the Game of Thrones books that brought me to this book -- and I think this is a great example of the same genre. This book is really Game of Thrones meets Mists of Avalon -- but for literature lovers, it won't spoil it for you if I tell you that the three witches from Macbeth also show up.

So there is fantasy in this book, by which I mean magic, but also the complex politics of factions that lead to the more compelling narrative through line. I'm not a book reviewer who likes to give you all the details of the book, but instead just someone who goes by the star ratings. For me, this is a five-star book because:

1. I didn't even realize it as a translation until after I finished reading it, which is to say that it read like a regular book in English, and
2. I finished it in under a week, reading on my Kindle Fire (the small one that's just 7" ... it was cheap and I like it. I think Prime subscribers can get this book now, in August of 2016, but it should be released more widely soon!)
3. There were some intense scenes in this book! I'm talking graphic ... and even some graphic/violent sexual encounters, which I believe to be in line with Game of Thrones and other accounts of the times that I've read. So it's intense stuff, but makes for a real page turner.

In sum, I liked the book a lot. If you're into fantasy in a historical context, this book works and I'd definitely read more by this author. If you're the kind of person who only likes books like "Unbroken" and "Nickled and Dimed," then I suggest you keep looking for something to read.
24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Exciting Viking Saga 4 September 2016
By Kindle Customer - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I enjoyed this book very much. While the warnings of graphic violence and sex are absolutely true I think it should also be made very clear that these scenes are not just in the book to shock or stimulate the reader. It's a fair depiction of the the mindset and practices at that time in history. I read this book in one sitting and will definitely read the next one. It is a fantastic translation and made reading effortless.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars legendary heroine and characters in a gripping tale of Viking era Scandinavia 9 September 2016
By Bibliophile without Borders - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I could not put this book down and after finishing the last page, I wanted to immediately jump into the next book which, alas, I must wait to read until October 2017. As others have noted in their reviews, this book is violent at times, but it is true to everything I have ever read about this period and so well-written that the blending of fact and the author's imagination are seamless.

Despite the fact that there were a few modern words and phrases which could have been translated into something better suiting the time period of the book, I think that it deserves 5 stars for its pace, its rich descriptions and its complex characters. While there is some debate about the life and real identity of the Scandinavian heroine Sigrid the Haughty, Eric the Victorious, and even parts of Sveyn Forkbeard's life, there is no doubt that when you read this book you will get so sucked into their lives that you can be pardoned for thinking it was based on a lot of historical record. This period in time is very murky at best as there are no written records outside of sagas like Snorri Sturlsson's or uncomplimentary documents written centuries in the future, as well as a wealth of oral records, but it is a gripping tale that needs to be told.

Scandinavian borders and leaders were constantly shifting in the 10th century -- raids and changing allegiances were a constant as Norse expansion was still ongoing. Yet mixed with this was the creeping influence of Christianity which was causing a great deal of conflict in the minds and hearts of the people who worship the old ways. Real historical people as well as fictitious characters are part and parcel of the jockeying for position, for power, and for the soul of the old form of worship of the Aesir and Vanir on the cusp of what many people feel is Ragnarok or the Twilight of the Gods.

Sigrid Tostedatter is a daughter of the wealthy jarl, Skagul Toste of what is now West Gotaland, Sweden, who is given in marriage to King Erik Segersall as a means of keeping peace. Strong willed and a worshipper and adept of the goddess Freya, she is given a gift of sight and communion with the disir (for lack of a better word, a spirit who is able to interact with the fate of humans) and through her, to Freya. Sigrid is strong of character and will, and highly intelligent which, I must say, is a hallmark of a lot of women of the same time period in Norse society who were respected and revered. Sigrid has visions of her destiny and her power which is interwoven not only with that of Sveyn Forkbeard, the illegitimate son of Harald Bluetooth (and yes, the Bluetooth on your electronic devices is named for him) but also with the young survivor of a massacre, Emma, who is a overtaken by the valkyrie, Kara (also called the Wild One). Historical figures and many other very believable characters intertwine with these three people to make a gripping tale of honor, love and vengeance that you will be unable to put down.

The actual Sigrid's life and actions are, of course, lost in the mists of time, yet I would like to think that the real person was someone very close to the fictional one depicted in this book. For her story to have survived in oral tradition all these centuries, and to be still revered, she must have been a really strong and heroic person. The author and translator did this legendary woman and other characters justice, and I am really looking forward to reading the next book in the series!