Publication Date: May 26, 2015 Blank Slate Press Formats: eBook, Trade Paperback
Genre: Historical Fiction
Driven from the flaming ruin of his Iceland farmhouse, young Odd Tangle-Hair, the only survivor of a feud in which his family is slaughtered, steals a ship, rounds up a rag-tag crew and embarks on the Viking life. He swears one day to return, rich and powerful enough to take vengeance on his enemies. But how far off that day seems!
His father, Black Thorvald, had once been a chieftain in Iceland. But in the year 1000, when the country adopted Christianity, Thorvald denounced the new faith and shut himself up in his hall, shunning the world and shunned by it. Odd fears that the worm of cowardice that unmanned his father has infected him too. He has inherited from Thorvald a shock of black hair, a gift for poetry, and an allegiance to Odin, god of battles and magic. But Odd is heir to darker traits as well - a hint of madness and a temper which will sometimes cost him dearly.
Fate carries him and his men to a shamanistic healer in Lapland, to bloody religious strife in Norway, to the lair of a witch in Finland, and finally to the borders of Russia. Here Odd will leave his comrades behind to join the retinue of a Norwegian princeling who is fleeing to the court of Yaroslav, Grand Prince of Rus. New dangers wait for him in that faraway country.
Eager, curious, quick-witted-and sometimes wrong-headed-Odd Tangle-Hair recounts his story with candor, insight, and always an ironic sense of humor.
I hardly know where to begin expressing my appreciation of Odin's Child by Bruce MacBain. The story-telling is quite masterful - I was caught up in Odd's tale from the start -- and it is quite a tale! The attention to historical detail is admirable and I really appreciated that Odd actually acted like a sixteen year old - impulsive with wild leaps in emotions and the inability to think about the long-term ramifications of his actions. He eventually does mature and grows into his role as leader of men, but the path is arduous.
I also liked the attention spent on the conflicts caused by the conversion of many of his countrymen to Christianity --- this is a catalyst for much conflict and the confusion about what entails a deity is expressed well in the novel. I loved the many adventures that Odd and his rag-tag group fell into --- despite the violence and deprivation --- this tale is wild and adventurous and reminded me of many of the classic tales. Unlike some of the classics, there is no vagueness regarding the extreme violence of such a life.
Odin's Child is definitely worth a read --- and I am looking forward to the next book in Odd's adventures -- and there are hints that they will be every bit as thrilling and death defying as this one. I hate to give too many details about the book because I want readers to gasp in fear/horror and hold their breath in anticipation of what will happen next just like I did. I hold out hope that Odd will gain in wisdom and will live up to his potential in subsequent books. I would recommend Odin's Child to anyone who enjoys wild adventures, historical fiction, particularly fiction dealing with the Vikings.
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Praise for Odin's Child"Meticulous research and poetic writing make Odin's Child a multilayered masterpiece...It brings medieval Scandinavia vividly alive. Written with passion, peopled with superbly realized characters, I was gripped from the very first page of this historical novel." -Carol McGrath, author of The Handfasted Wife and The Swan-Daughter
"[Macbain's] writing is vivid and compelling, and his understanding of Norse and Icelandic culture and history is woven deftly throughout the tale. The cast of characters is well-fleshed out and Odd makes for a wonderful protagonist. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, and I eagerly await its sequel. Highly recommended." -Historical Novels Review, Editor's Choice
Excerpt from Chapter 1: The Stallion Fight At ThingholtOn that day in May, as we rode to the stallion fight at Thingholt, my fate showed itself to me. A raven flew low across the sky into the rising sun and the moment I saw it I knew that Odin had spoken to me and that he would give me courage for the thing I had secretly made up my mind to do. Only now, half a century later, do I see what a long text was folded into that swift vision.
The spring of my sixteenth year had come early to the South Quarter of Iceland, with hot-cold days and thunderclouds sweeping up over the mountains. The stallions, smelling the air, trembled and kicked against their stalls. At this season if you stake out a mare where the stallions can smell her, they will fight like berserkers to get at her, and a great one will die before he breaks and runs.
Black Grani was such a one. This was his fourth spring and the time had come to bring him to the South Quarter Thing and fight him. Thorvald, my father, grumbled and held back, but I gave him no peace, until, at last, he flung up an arm, which meant 'yes'.
Although my brother Gunnar and I had set out early from the farm, the day was far gone before we came in sight of Thingholt plain and heard the distant shouts of men and the whinnying of horses. We left Grani and our mounts at the horse lines and walked across the sparse heath into the holiday crowd. And as we pushed our way through, there were some who knew us. A few old men came up and in low voices asked to be remembered to our father. But one red-faced woman, seeing us, cried, "Jesu!" and dragged her little daughter from our path.
About the AuthorFrom boyhood, Bruce Macbain spent his days in reading history and historical fiction. The Greeks and Romans have held a special fascination for him and this led to earning a master's degree in Classical Studies and a doctorate in Ancient History. Along the way, he also taught English as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Borneo. Later, he taught courses in Greek and Roman civilization at Vanderbilt University and Boston University, and published a few dense scholarly monographs, read by very few. Recently, he has turned to writing fiction, a much more congenial pursuit. He has previously published two historical mysteries set in ancient Rome, Roman Games and its sequel, The Bull Slayer. Now, he has turned his attention to his other favorite folk, the Vikings. Odin's Child is the first novel of a trilogy, Odd Tangle-Hair's Saga, which follows our hero-a wanderer, poet and warrior-from his tiny Iceland farm to the Great Palace in Constantinople. It will be published by Blank Slate Press in May, 2015.
Bruce spends his spare time in the kitchen, cooking spicy food.
For more information please visit Bruce Macbain's website. You can also follow him on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Goodreads.
Odin's Child Blog Tour ScheduleMonday, June 29
Review at A Book Geek
Interview at Shelf Full of Books
Spotlight & Giveaway at Unshelfish
Tuesday, June 30
Interview at Brooke Blogs
Wednesday, July 1
Review at Book Nerd
Friday, July 3
Spotlight at Layered Pages
Spotlight & Giveaway at Teddy Rose Book Reviews Plus More
Monday, July 6
Interview at A Literary Vacation
Tuesday, July 7
Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past
Wednesday, July 8
Spotlight at CelticLady's Reviews
Thursday, July 9
Review at Bookramblings
Friday, July 10
Review at Just One More Chapter