Blood Eye by Giles Kristian
Author: Giles Kristian
Genre: Fiction (Historical / 9th Century / Northern Europe / Vikings / Norseman / Religious Relics / Amnesia)
Publisher/Publication Date: Bantam (8/28/2012)
Source: TLC Book Tours / NetGalley
Rating: Okay to liked.
Did I finish?: I did.
One-sentence summary: Violent, cinematic saga of a 9th century man who finds his Norse
Reading Challenges: E-book, Historical Fiction, Immigrant Stories, NetGalley
Do I like the cover?: Eh -- it's fine. It looks like what it is -- masculine mass paperback cover of an adventure historical.
First line: The hearth is spewing more smoke than flame, seething angrily and causing some of the men to cough as they hunker down among the reindeer furs.
Do... I love that the author will answer reader questions on his website?: YES.
Do... I love that the author is a former pop star and actor slash model in addition to being a historical novelist?: YES. He is a cutie, too!
Do... I like the book trailer?: YES. I rarely watch book trailers, I'll be honest, but this one feels like a very good movie trailer -- it really captures the mood of the book!
Buy, Borrow, or Avoid?: Borrow if you're into Vikings, early medieval fiction, and banter-y band of brothers type war fic.
Why did I get this book?: I do love me some Vikings.
Review: I will admit upfront that books with a heavy bent toward violence, war, and brotherhood of men aren't really my thing. But now and then, I get a hankering for some 'guy' fiction -- like Clive Cussler or Mickey Spillane -- because I want an action movie type of read, and in this case, Blood Eye was a perfect summer flick of a book.
In 9th century England, Osric is apprenticed to a mute carpenter, the only man in a small seaside village willing to take him in when he was found two years earlier. Unable to remember his past, Osric is marked with one permanently bloodshot eye, and is feared by the village. When Norsemen land nearby, Osric is shocked to discover he speaks the strangers' tongue and he becomes a translator -- and betrayer -- of his village. When the worst happens, he's pressed into service on the longship and from there comes his transformation from Osric to Raven, a Norse warrior.
Kristian's writing style is easy and readable -- peppered with historical details (and crazy Norse and medieval-y English names) -- and the story is pretty dramatic. At times, I was acutely aware this was a 400+ page book -- I think it could have used a little trimming -- but the story always picked up.
Personally, I had a hard time reconciling liking the characters with their bloody behavior, even if historically accurate, which might have been the biggest hang up for me with this book. But Kristian creates a kind of black humor banter-y connection between his characters that invites like, even affection.
On a format note, I have to give Bantam props for a lovely e-book. The formatting was wonderful -- the 'small' font was nice and readable -- and the table of contents was detailed and hyperlinked.
This book is the first in a trilogy, so those who like chunksters you can dig into, you'll be in for a treat.
*** *** ***
I'm thrilled to offer a copy of Blood Eye to one lucky reader! To enter, fill out this brief form. Open to US/Canadian readers, ends 9/14.