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The Half-Drowned King


The Half-Drowned King

I have to admit that I chose this book because of, well, Vikings. Yes, I do that on occasion, and this time I was sweetly rewarded. This is Linnea Hartsuyker’s debut novel, and I very much hope that she has several more stories to tell, because THE HALF-DROWNED KING is a great read.

Ragnvald Eysteinsson has finally come of age, and with 20 summers behind him and several successful raids in Ireland to his name, he hopes to take his dead father’s place as the head of his family. On the trip home, the man he trusted, at least to bring him back safely from the Ireland raids, attempts to murder him. After being rescued, and a brush with death and promises to a few gods along the way, Ragnvald is more determined than ever to take back what is his, marry the woman he loves, and rescue his sister from a very unhappy home life under the watchful eye of their stepfather --- a stepfather who tried to kill him and take everything that is his.

"This is the type of historical fiction I love --- it is smart, full of amazing characters, and has enough tension to drive it full speed to the end."

When news of Ragnvald’s death reaches his sister, Svanhild, she breaks down, realizing that every dream she held for a happy life rested on her brother’s safe return. All those dreams are now gone with his death. She had hopes that when Ragnvald came back, she would not be forced to marry an undesirable man or be taken as a second wife. Instead, she decides not to wait for fate to find her, but goes after it herself. She leaves the safety of the home and family to which her brother entrusted her and runs away hoping to find him. What she ends up finding is a life of adventure married to a man who has brought disrespect to her family, but brings her a freedom she never expected to enjoy in her life.

When Ragnvald and Svanhild’s lives finally intersect, the decisions they’ve made, the alliances they’ve forged, and the lives they’ve made for themselves are not at all what they imagined, but in many ways are exactly what they needed to survive. And that survival is all they have at the moment. Ragnvald, in the wake of his supposed death and miraculous reappearance, has made alliances and promises to warlords and would-be kings. He is respected but still wants and needs more, especially when it comes to his rightful family inheritance. Svanhild, much like her brother, isn’t content with what she has and is more than willing to fight to get what she wants --- even if it might be in direct conflict with what her brother desires.

This is the type of historical fiction I love --- it is smart, full of amazing characters, and has enough tension to drive it full speed to the end. I didn’t love Ragnvald at the start, but much like the men he serves, you come to rely on him and his stoic presence throughout. He’s steady, willing to offer sage advice and, when necessary, to kill. Svanhild is everything you want her to be and more, and is nothing like her brother. They both need the adventure and danger that life offers, but for vastly different reasons; together they make this book.

If you’re looking for an exciting new read, then THE HALF-DROWNED KING is the book you need. This is historical fiction that you will want to be a part of, get lost in, and share with other readers.

Reviewed by Amy Gwiazdowski on August 25, 2017

The Half-Drowned King
by Linnea Hartsuyker