Kristian, Giles - 'Raven: Sons of Thunder'
SONS OF THUNDER is another delicious offering by Giles Kristian. This is the second in a series of tales about the life of Raven, a young man from England who has lost his memory and found comradeship with a group of Norse warriors. The story follows on directly from the first book, BLOOD EYE, and we find Sigurd and his Wolfpack close on the heels of Ealdred, who has just betrayed them and fled in one of their ships, carrying with him a sacred gospel that he intends to sell. The pursuit takes them over the sea to France, where they lie in wait for their quarry, then pounce savagely when it appears.
Ealdred and his men are taken prisoner while Sigurd decides their fate. Asgot, the Wolfpack's godi, or spiritual man, is in favour of a sacrifice to the Gods but Sigurd decides upon a fight between him and Mauger, Ealdred's best fighting man, instead. The fate of the rest of the prisoners hangs on the outcome of the fight. The battle is fierce and bloody but Sigurd, although himself gravely injured, is the victor and Mauger lies dead at his feet. He offers life to his prisoners, providing they join his men and help row the longships, which they readily agree to. Ealdred is then sentenced to death for his treachery but Raven, who is completely besotted with Cynethryth, Ealdred's daughter, makes a cunning case for sparing his life. Sigurd eventually agrees and the Wolfpack moves upriver, with Ealded and the gospel, in order to try to sell the precious book to the King of France, using the Wessexman as a pawn in the transaction...
It is good to Raven's character developing as he matures. He is still extremely likeable and seems more comfortable with his fellows in this book than the first, as well as a bit more confident of his own abilities in battle, although he is still amazed that he remains alive when other, far stronger, warriors have fallen. He also seems to be becoming trusted as a wily schemer by Sigurd, who follows along with more than one of his plans. At one stage a somewhat controversial plan of Raven's saves the lives of the Wolfpack but almost costs Raven dear in the process, in spite of Sigurd's support. It will be interesting to see what his role in the fellowship evolves into in later books. This was a rather absorbing and delightful tale of fellowship and bravery. I thoroughly enjoyed it and can't wait for instalment number three!
Amanda C M Gillies, Scotland