First Line: They’re coming.
Sum It Up In One Sentence: Eelyn spots her dead brother fighting for the enemy, gets captured, and has to deal with being a slave among them.
. . . . .
Note: Possible spoilers ahead.
In this standalone novel, Eelyn is a part of the Aska, a Viking-like warrior culture. Her clan lives in a strange peace, training for a war that takes place every five years against the Riki. This is a year of war, and Eelyn helps lead the charge with her friend and her father. Among the many skirmishes, she spots her brother, the one she thought died five years ago. She chases after him only to be captured and taken to the Riki camp. There, she is branded a slave and lives with her brother and his new Riki family. Her goal is to return home and regain her honor. But there is also the threat of another enemy, and she must work with Riki to unite the two clans.
It was interesting to see the juxtaposition of family and clan and how these characters handled it differently. The Aska and the Riki have been fighting like this for hundreds of years because their two gods quarreled over something. That’s it. We don’t get much detail, and it just came across as this half-assed attempt. Why every five years? And when does that five-year war end? This time it magically ended right after Eelyn was captured. And once she’s captured, nothing really happens. There is a lot of integrating into her new life while she waits to escape. There’s the whole hating her brother thing. And of course a love story. The whole plot was a bit boring and not excitingly executed.
Eelyn has been raised a warrior, yet I did not get that from her actions. She leaves her fighting mate to chase after her brother. It is reiterated how important this fighting mate bond is, and she just runs off, not once, but twice. She is often easily overpowered. She is very easily captured. She tries one escape and puts up a little fight about being made a slave, but there’s no heart. She also needs saved several times by Fiske. A lot actually. Of course, when the big enemy appears, she is suddenly god-like in her abilities. She also very easily overcomes her deep-taught hatred of the Riki. Like, she’s in the camp for something like a week or two and she fits right in with the family. The hatred for her brother’s choice was too easily overcome, either that or it was pointless in the beginning. And sadly, she has no real personality other than a little talk of honor.
Fiske is the boy who captured her, and it is obvious from the get-go that he will be the love interest. Too bad he’s boring and has no personality either. I guess they are meant to be. Iri is the brother and utterly one-dimensional. In fact, all of the characters are pretty one-dimensional. They each have that one thing that makes them who they are. Nothing original. Also, everyone looks the same, they just wear different colored leather.
The writing style was fine, if a bit plain, but that’s okay. My complaint is the pacing. It started with a lot of action, but pretty soon we are in the Riki village with a lot of menial tasks being done by our warrior. This lasts quite a while for such a short novel (by today’s standards). The big bad guy is mentioned in passing and then comes up very suddenly with little introduction. And that whole thing wraps up quickly and a little too neatly. There was no suspense or mystery. It all felt a bit tired and heavy-handed. All of the plot points seemed very transparent, and it made me a little sad. I wrote in my notes, “very little build-up and no payoff.” Also, it should be noted there are a few moments when the threat of rape comes up.
I wanted to like this so bad. I love Viking culture, particularly mythology, so I was really into this idea, but it just wasn’t there for me. There wasn’t much that was really Viking-like about them except how they did their hair. This book has such rave reviews, maybe for the love story? The somehow both plodding and rushed plot really made this difficult to get into. It was a quick go, but the characters were one-dimensional which meant that I wasn’t emotionally invested. Listen, I know I made it sound really terrible, but it wasn’t, it was simply okay. There is nothing wrong with this book, per se, but there wasn’t really anything memorable either.
4 out of 10
Author: Adrienne Young
Release Date: April 24, 2018
Format Read: Kindle
Category(s): Fantasy, Young Adult