Theodore Brun
ARRSE Rating
4 Mushroom Heads
This is the author's first novel, the first of the Wanderer series. Drawing on his studies in archaeology, anthropology and history, plus a good deal of Scandinavian history and mythology, he weaves a tale of fantasy around the central character, Hakan. Set in 8th century Scandinavia, he vividly captures the cold, inhospitable landscape and the harsh, often brutal, nature of life at that time.

Initially, it would seem to be a tale of a young man's rite of passage and coming of age with the usual mix of young romance, rivalry in love, jealousy and family feuding. However, we soon move past this altogether too familar storyline into a far more compelling tale. In making this transition, the reader is presented with some totally unexpected revelations.

Suffice to say, having been so thoroughly betrayed, Hakan embarks upon a journey seeking to physically and mentally distance himself from his past and to renew himself by taking on a new identity and finding a new master to serve.

It is in this second part of the of the story that we introduced to a new character, Kai, who is younger than Hakan and a smooth talker who can also cook! He serves as a foil to our hero who, by this stage has become a glowering, bad tempered figure. In their journey they travel ever northward through a bleak and almost deserted landscape, facing terrible weather conditions before finally reaching their destination.

It is after this point that the tale becomes more of a fantasy and the storyline seems to "stumble" before recovering its former powerful attraction.

For a debut novel the author has reached a very high standard of storytelling. It is eminently readable and has a good pace to it. Theodore Brun has entered a very crowded genre but has managed to write a novel which stands out despite the competition.

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