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The Sea Queen


The Sea Queen

THE SEA QUEEN is the second installment in Linnea Hartsuyker’s Viking trilogy, following THE HALF-DROWNED KING. I don’t want to give away my enthusiasm for this series too soon, but let’s just say that I’m waiting for the third book already.

Ragnvald is a man who keeps his oaths, which leaves him trapped by his own choices, even if he fully believes in those decisions. All he wants is to hold the land that once belonged to his father and live a quiet life away from the fighting that helped him reclaim his family’s land. Unfortunately for Ragnvald, King Harald wants him by his side, believing him to be his good luck charm in battle and a counselor he can’t live without. No longer the half-drowned king, Ragnvald has moved beyond his past and is now a much bigger pawn in the game of Norwegian kings.

"Hartsuyker is an amazing storyteller who brings Viking Norway to life, from the sea battles to the vivid landscapes. The closer I got to the last page, the slower I read, as I did not want it to end."

Ragnvald’s sister, Svanhild --- who is now married to the notorious sea raider, Solvi --- has the freedom she dearly craves, but her family life is plagued by the shadow of death that clings to her son. Her son is weak, and her husband is all-consumed with capturing what he believes is his by right. This defiance of everything but his own dreams costs Solvi not only his son but also his wife. With the death of her son and dissolution of her marriage, Svanhild goes to find Ragnvald, hoping that he will be able to give her the space and time she needs to heal. At the very least, she would like him to take her in; once more she has left everything she has in an effort to protect what little of her freedom remains.

King Harald wants to rule all of Norway, and pulls both Ragnvald and Svanhild into his orbit, believing that he needs both brother and sister close to him to win his battles and solidify his position as king of Norway. Ragnvald and Svanhild have other plans in mind, though. While they would like Harald to succeed, they also want their freedom. It’s a game of strategy for them, and with a little bit of luck and help from the gods, they hope the game they’re playing doesn’t rain down ruin on their family. Fortunately, they are good at the games they play; they have much more to lose now.

I’m happy to see the story shift to Svanhild and her adventures in this book. She’s strong, stubborn, and willing to fight for her son and her freedom. Ragnvald is playing a much more dangerous game this time, looking to remove enemies and build new alliances without having to do the dirty work himself. He’s moving people around to do his bidding while appearing to have no involvement. His title of king affords him some space, but he isn’t always satisfied with moving the pawns. He truly trusts no one but himself in the end --- a trait that he and his sister have in common.

Hartsuyker is an amazing storyteller who brings Viking Norway to life, from the sea battles to the vivid landscapes. The closer I got to the last page, the slower I read, as I did not want it to end. I felt invested, wanting to know how Ragnvald and Svanhild would fare in the dangerous games they were playing.

THE SEA QUEEN is a sequel, and you’ll want to read THE HALF-DROWNED KING first to capture all the details, betrayals and backstories. Hartsuyker tells a grand tale, and you won’t want to miss any of it. If you like historical fiction, Viking tales or frankly just a great story, these books are for you.

Reviewed by Amy Gwiazdowski on August 17, 2018

The Sea Queen
by Linnea Hartsuyker