I get a lot of free books for review – probably more than I can actually read, but it is my goal to get through ALL of them, even if it takes awhile. Given that end, this is one of the older books in my queue that I’ve finally gotten around to reading. And as is so often the case with books that have been on my (digital) shelf for more than a couple of years, I find I quite enjoyed it and wished I’d read it sooner after I’d received it.
I’m a sucker for books with Norse themes and history and this book is definitely targeted toward someone like me. This book is set in the 9th Century when Hakon the Black, a fearsome Norse Lord, ravaged Europe and Great Britain. It follows a time when the way of cruelty and barbarism and darkness intersects with the way of hope and lightness of Christianity.
The story partially follows Vidar, alone in the frozen Northland, searching for the “Vestibule of Light” and thinking about his son, Niclaus, whom he left behind, and the future for Niclaus, foretold by Cado, a dwarf who appears to have supernatural powers.
The writing is quite engaging and author Kenneth Gregory draws the reader in with his swift prose, engaging characters, and complex but intriguing story. He manages to get the brutality of Hakon across without resorting to simple blood and gore descriptions, and while the battles aren’t ‘world wars’ or even major warfare battles, they are still life and death situations for those involved and they come across as important campaigns.
There are surprises that completely blind-sided me until quite late in the book, and I usually am not caught off-guard the way I was here, and I liked that!
This was a really delightful read and I’d love to read more of Gregory’s work. Rumor is that this is the first of a series, and I hope that is true.
Looking for a good book? The Polaris Whisper by Kenneth Gregory is top-notch historical fiction with a Norse setting, characters that feel quite real, and just enough magic to bewilder and astound the reader. It is highly recommended.
I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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The Polaris Whisper
author: Kenneth Gregory
publisher: Blackstaff Press Ltd
paperback, 457 pages