I have been anticipating this book since I saw it on Goodreads. I mean, Wonder Woman, vikings, a beautiful cover, and an epic heroine? Sign me up!
Part Wonder Woman, part Vikings—and all heart.
Raised to be a warrior, seventeen-year-old Eelyn fights alongside her Aska clansmen in an ancient rivalry against the Riki clan. Her life is brutal but simple: fight and survive. Until the day she sees the impossible on the battlefield—her brother, fighting with the enemy—the brother she watched die five years ago.
Faced with her brother’s betrayal, she must survive the winter in the mountains with the Riki, in a village where every neighbor is an enemy, every battle scar possibly one she delivered. But when the Riki village is raided by a ruthless clan thought to be a legend, Eelyn is even more desperate to get back to her beloved family.
She is given no choice but to trust Fiske, her brother’s friend, who sees her as a threat. They must do the impossible: unite the clans to fight together, or risk being slaughtered one by one. Driven by a love for her clan and her growing love for Fiske, Eelyn must confront her own definition of loyalty and family while daring to put her faith in the people she’s spent her life hating.
I finished this book a few weeks ago, but I really needed some time to gather my thoughts and try to determine how I felt about some problematic things. I haven’t really come to a conclusion in this time, so I’m going to try to explain my conflicting emotions in a way that makes sense!
I really enjoyed the premise of this book. It was set in a Viking-esque world with some really strong female characters that actually have depth to them. Eelyn’s scale of emotions, from grief to love and everything in between, was something that resonated with me and really made me connect with her.
The way the author intertwined family, religion, culture, friendship, and romance was really well-done, especially set against such a violent and action-packed backdrop. The characters and the plot built off each other and balanced out very nicely.
While I really liked the plot and the setting, I had some problems with our lead male protagonist. I really hated Fiske at the beginning, and while I eventually grew to tolerate him, I didn’t really like that he and Eelyn ended with a close relationship. I don’t want to give too much away, but he was a major jerk (borderline abusive) for most of the book and then he just suddenly wasn’t. He did have some redeeming qualities toward the end of the book and the author did explain the reasoning for his behavior in the beginning, but I don’t see what justified such a sudden change in how Eelyn saw him.
Aside from this, I really loved Eelyn’s character and her role in this really action-filled fantasy. While the book is violent and filled with action, it also has very tender family moments and character arcs that really help us relate to the story. I would definitely recommend trying this book if you love historical-esque fantasies and strong family ties.