Saturday 8 March 2014

Review of The Whale Road by Robert Low

The Whale Road (Oathsworn, #1)The Whale Road by Robert Low
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I enjoyed this book. Low paints a violent, vivid world of Vikings selling their swords to the highest bidder and scheming to find hidden treasures. The ship's crew would be at home sailing alongside Giles Kristian's Vikings from his Raven series, and there are a lot of similarities between the two writers' stories and characters.

The language in this book is often exquisite. Low shows moments of real brilliance in places.

He also suffers from trying to stuff too much into one book. The main characters are strong, and the overall story arc is clear, but the wealth of locations and secondary characters are impossible to keep up with, and I couldn't really see the need for naming some of the warriors. One character gets added in the last chapter, as far as I could tell, and there seemed no good reason to name him.

It is a good thing that the writing and setting are both fun and engaging, as I almost gave up after reading the first few pages. They are a real muddle that seem to have been edited into a single chapter from perhaps two original chapters or scenes. Luckily though, after that initial confusing section, the book gets underway and is a fun read.

It settles down into a nice rhythm. It is well-written and enjoyable for the most part. The plot could be a bit tighter and I was a little put off by it turning into "Indiana Jones in the Dark Ages" at the end of the book, even though I have to say I enjoyed reading some of the last scenes very much. There did seem to be a distinct difference in tone between the early part of the book and the second half. Perhaps Low decided to add some more supernatural elements as he progressed.

If you are interested in ripping adventures set in the Dark Ages, particularly featuring blood-letting Vikings, this book is well worth a read.

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