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Doomed Love in Viking

Joan Hoiness Bouchelle
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Rakkel, aging postulant at Nidaros Cathedral in Viking Norway, remembers the death – and her contribution to it - of her adored love, Bjorn. Unaware they are children of brothers they meet, fall in love, but cannot marry. Fleeing Trollviken, Bjorn is fatally wounded by Rakkel’s errant arrow shot at a presumed pursuer.

At Trollviken, Sigurd and Joftil have teenaged Alfil, Magnus (to England), Berulf (Iceland) and Frederik (Miklegård). An unnamed infant arrives when the story begins.

Alfil, abducted and impregnated by neighbor, Knut, is rescued by friend, Eldred. Sigurd, mortally wounded on the mission, is accorded a warrior’s fireship funeral at Trollviken.

In Jorvik, Magnus’ wife has Bjorn, unrepentant pagan soon departed for Norway. Frederik marries in Miklegård (Istanbul). Daughter Rakkel returns as well and falls for Bjorn. Denied permission to marry, they flee. Rakkel kills Bjorn unintentionally and endures lifelong suffering.

The ice-blue fjord sparkled and shimmered in the pale northern sunlight like clear gemstones cast upon satin. Chilled water was edged with sheer granite cliffs, which, in places, plunged straight into the frigid water to unknowable depths. Menacing in their unyielding power, these granite giants were topped with ghostly morning mists, reluctant remnants of night, leaving spectral strands of palest white caught in the dark green spires of the trees. The chill in the air gave emphasis to the otherwhere quality in this place of bleak beauty.

Sigurd, tenth century warrior-king and lord of this manor, loved it and not for its enviable location. It lay below him with its large manor house and a sprawl of smaller outbuildings around a grassy common. His heart lived here, and his family thrived, as did the rest of the household, down to and including the slaves.

Sigurd loved the commodious yield of his beloved Trollviken as much as he loved and understood the barely hidden sense of danger that seemed to stand behind every tree. Wisdom can hide, but not stupidity.

With that thought in mind, Sigurd took his ease against a large boulder which was warming very slowly in the early sunlight. His beloved Trollviken spread between him and the fjord. Sigurd thought long and hard. This, the family home and headquarters for his extensive and hard-won holdings along the deeply-indented coast in west Norway, lay slightly above sea level at the head of a long fjord which led to the edge of the sea. From this vantage point no enemy or friend, for that matter, could pass unobserved. All appeared to be calm and serene. It was a matter of some satisfaction that Trollviken had been won with every one of Sigurd’s soldiers free men. There were many burial mounds in the area attesting to that fact.

No slaves were expected to fight for Sigurd. No one had time to think about what happened when a slave dies.

Then Sigurd thought about the rumors that King Olaf would make true his pledge to Christianize Norway. That would be bloody. It was much on everyone’s mind, but what an undertaking that would be!

The warrior-king marveled that Olaf would even attempt a confrontation against Odin. Who would even try such a thing with all the phalanxes of Valhol, Middle Earth and the Underworld not only at his disposal—if their mood was amenable—but, Sigurd knew, Odin could call upon quite an army all by himself, if he set his mind to it.

That King Olaf and the hated Bishop Grimsdal had made holy vows to spread Christianity throughout the northern lands was well-known. The two leaders vowed to imprison the eldest boy in every family which showed the slightest resistance to the religious upheaval. If that resistance did not stop, the boy would be murdered. More blood. Not that the spilling of blood was abhorrent to Sigurd. He just hated to see it wasted on a doomed plan. Odin or Someone would be obeyed.

As the sun rose higher in the sky the welcome warmth reached Sigurd, and he threw his heavy woolen cloak back over his shoulders, revealing a sturdy torso and well-muscled legs. His heavy hair and beard echoed the soft yellow of the northern sun and his blue eyes reflected the blue of the sea and sky, and, perhaps, beyond.
Sigurd stood up and straightened his clothes. He glanced at Nissen (the Elf) his warhorse grazing quietly nearby. Røyke (Smoke) the moosedog romped across the hill chasing rabbits, shadows, voles and who knew what else.

Trollviken was a busy place, and Sigurd was glad. He counted himself fortunate to have three teenaged sons—at the moment away for the requisite year of apprenticeship at a nearby fortification, for their education—then Alfil, his daughter and, just recently, the as yet unnamed infant boy. His good fortune began, he always said, when the gods smiled on him and gave him his Joftil, love of his life and proud bearer of his children.

Rating: 4 Cups
The Vikings are poised on a new age, one which will change their way of life forever. King Olaf has embraced the ‘One God’ and he is determined that his subjects follow his example, through war, if necessary. Sigurd is troubled by this change in his homeland, but has faith in his gods that they will not allow this interloper to overturn them. Sigurd’s family must endure heartbreak to survive.

Saganatt is a bittersweet tale of a family that is trying to find its place in a changing world and adapting to survive. This historical romance has a beautifully crafted, mythical feel to it, like the ancient Norse legends. It's rooted in the sometimes gory and brutal way of life the Vikings lived. However, this does not subtract from the strong family values Sigurd laid down for his children and that stays with them and carries them through the dark times.

Unlike most romances, there is no central couple on which the plot pivots. Instead, the focus moves from one family member to the other, charting the progress of their life and how they find love as they carve out their own destinies. Each of them is touched by love and tragedy in equal measure and none more than Bjorn and Rakkel.

The seeds of their tragic love are sown when Alfil, Sigurd’s daughter, is kidnapped and he stages a daring rescue. Sigurd is killed in battle and in grief and jealously, his wife, Jotfil, sends their three teenage sons away. This is to keep them from being held hostage by King Olaf, who would force them to turn to Christianity. Unable to stand her grief, she kills herself and leaves her young daughter, Alfil, to pick up the pieces.

The three sons of Sigurd go into the world in search of adventure and love, and after many setbacks, they finally find peace. However, two of Sigurd’s restless
grandchildren, Bjorn and Rakkel, decide to trace their roots and head back to Norway. The fates are not kind to them and sorrow once more finds Trollviken.

Saganatt is not a traditional historical romance. The historical detail is not there to color the background and add depth to the plot, but it's almost a living, breathing character in the book. If you're a fan of the Viking era, this book is priceless. The romantic element of the book is subtle and tender, but not passionate and some of the references to violence can be a little disturbing, but all of it is in context with the story.

Gen Thomas
Reviewer for Karen Find Out About New Books
Reviewer for Coffee Time Romance


"This book is full of loves found and lost. We are taken on a great adventure through 10th century Scandinavia and Europe. Ms. Bouchelle shows us how the people of this time lived and loved in epic proportions. As we travel through each town and region, Ms. Bouchelle quietly interjects translations of words and traditions so it is not hard to feel part of that era.

I really enjoy this kind of historical fiction. It makes me remember that the past is not made up of events, but flesh and blood people who experienced those events. For any romantics who are history buffs out there, I recommend this book."

Reviewed by: Kathy 4 Angels Fallen Angel Reviews

Fiction Books :: Romance Books :: Historical Books

ISBN: 1593742428
ISBN(13-digit): 9781593742423
Copyright: 2009
Book Publisher: Whiskey Creek Press
Binding: Perfect
No. of Pages: 282
Paper Weight (lb): 11.4

If you like this book, you may also enjoy:

Liberty Road              A Continental Marriage              The Upheaval             
Annette Snyder Susanne Marie Knight Linda Lattimer

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