"When we reach the outcropping, I look down and see what seems like the entire earth below us..."

Bjorn, a young man hailing from Os on the shore of Skagerrak, possesses unique gifts passed down to him from his mother. Known as an erilasz, Bjorn understands that his gifts are special but sometimes a curse. When he finds himself kidnapped by a violent tribe that slays his entire village, Bjorn’s life turns in the most unexpected way: he becomes a scribe and a sacred seer fit only for a king—King Armin of Germany. As Armin uses Bjorn’s gifts to guide his life and political destiny, Bjorn becomes entrenched in battles, political schemes and rivalries, rancid marriages and divorces, and others’ fated-for-glory-or-death lives as Germany wages war on the Romans, and Armin attempts to unify Germany’s many, various tribes.

With clear prose and well-researched history, this book of speculative historical fiction quickly engrosses readers in adventurous tales and cultural revelations from a pre-Christian Europe that many fail to realize existed. This book’s merit lies in Bjorn, its narrator—gripping, philosophical, and insightful—in whom readers witness growth as the protagonist, via his experiences, transforms from an innocent village boy to a battle-seasoned, well-traveled man capable of conversing in multiple languages and interacting with people of various tribes and cultures. The diary-like form of the book also makes it a more personal reading choice, and those who enjoy fictional epistolary works will appreciate the intimacy conveyed in the narrator’s tone and the narrative’s structure. Readers whose reading tastes are that of Tim Severin’s Viking series will find this book a must-read, and anyone with an interest in pre-Christian Europe and Roman history will find this book an easy page-turner.

RECOMMENDED by the US Review

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