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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Kari's Saga: A Novel of Viking Iceland by Robert Jansson

A Viking book that's less of a "bash 'em, slash 'em" book and more of a legal thriller

So, you pick up a book about Icelandic Vikings and what do you expect? Well, if you're like me you expected a lot of men with long hair brandishing swords and axes along with lots of blood and longboats, much like the Saxon Chronicle books of Bernard Cornwell.

A Viking Longhouse
Kari's Saga starts out with just that - a failed attempt to burn a rival's longhouse. But, there's a twist. Iceland is trying to limit the the amount of violence that plague the island (revenge killings and so on). The Icelandic Vikings are actively trying to be more creative in applying Viking laws and the legal system to limit this violence. Notice I said limit, not end it - these are, after all, Vikings.

Throw in the threat of political change (invasion from Viking kings back in Denmark - Icleand had no king, just a loose collection of weak semi-feudal lords) and religious change (Christianity was supplanting the Viking gods and the desire to make Iceland Christian was one of excuses used to threaten the invasion from Denmark) and you have an interesting story line with lots of twists and turns.

The author, Robert Jansson, does a great job of explaining the political, religious and legal issues involved. His battle scenes, while few, are well done. He adds in greed, lust and love to make this a worthy read. 

I rate this book 5 stars out of 5.

This book can be found on Amazon at this location:  Kari's Saga: A Novel of Viking Iceland

Reviewed on November 29, 2008.

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