Review of The Viking Gael by J.T.T. Ryder

The Viking Gael Saga by J.T.T. Ryder 

The Viking Gael Saga by J.T.T. Ryder (Amazon associate link. Released March 14, 2023. About 156 pages.) 

This novel (the first in a proposed series) chronicles the coming of age adventures of a young Norse man named Asgeir. Tragedy befalls the teen, and he is conscripted into the service of a Viking raider named Ulf to pay off his father’s debts. When they reach Ireland and meet up with Asgeir’s father, he’ll be given back the family sword, Gael-Kisser.

In Book 1, however, we remain in Norway where Asgeir must learn to fight like a true Viking. Since his mother is Irish, we’re promised by the series’ title that, one day, he’ll become The Viking Gael. Until then, the young man longs for the day he can take out his revenge against the ruthless and conniving Ulf.

This is a historical novel set, as the blurb indicates, in AD 870. This era and setting is the author’s wheelhouse as Mr. Ryder (soon to earn his PhD) is an expert in Viking and Iron Age archaeology. So the references to daily life, local titles, customs, and swordplay all ring true. (There is also a short appendix giving more context and details about life back then which was very interesting.)

The story itself is fairly well told, but the narrative is interwoven with a number of first person thoughts so that we ‘hear’ Asgeir’s inner commentary about the events he’s experiencing. This was distracting for me at first, but I got used to it. However, it did not warm me to the young man. In fact, he came off as a young, naïve brat at times.

But, this is a coming-of-age story of sorts and so there is room for Asgeir to grow. And I hope he does become that noble figure foreshadowed by the novel’s title. I look forward to reading further adventures in this series and see just what type of hero he turns out to be.

Overall, a solid 4.5 Stars with a language warning. Recommended to those interested in sword and sorcery (although there is no sorcery, per se, simply references to Pagan rituals and beliefs); and, as another reviewer has stated, fans of The Last Kingdom and Vikings television series will likely enjoy this book. (Note: I received an ARC of this novel from the author, and first reviewed on Goodreads.)

More: Visit J.T.T. Ryder's website, Old World Heroism, for more information on his books.

Also: Read DMR's interview with Mr. Ryder at their Independent Author Spotlight.

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