Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Reading Table - Tim Severin's Viking: Odinn's Child

Odinn's Child - the first book in Viking trilogy - By Tim Severin

I actually finished this book over a month ago but as it took me nearly three months to read it in small snatches of time between other things, it seems appropriate that it has taken so long to do my review.

Odinn's Child is written as a memoir of Thorgils Leifsson, son of famous explorer Leif the Lucky, laying out his childhood and teen years. The story is found in a monastary, the product of the supposed priest Thangbrand, who is yet another of Thorgils' personas, culminating a life of adventure.

Tim Severin interweaves first-century life in Iceland, Greenland, and even Vinland (pre-Columbus north America), in outlining Thorgils earliest years. By the age of ten, he has travelled more than most do in a lifetime, and he's just getting started. After losing his father and mother, Thorgils ultimately sets out on his own and heads east towards Ireland and Scotland. There he serves a dog handler, a slave, an apprentice in a monastery, and finally, as a student of the brithemain Eochaid.

While the writing is somewhat stolid and dry, you cannot help but be caught up in the constantly twisting and turning storyline. Severin is at his best describing the minutiae of daily life and what he lacks in conversational style, he more than compensates for with detail and thorough historical demonstration.

All in all, a decent read but a little uninspiring. Severin has nowhere near the storytelling prowess of Bernard Cornwell, nor is he as fluid or meticulous as Michael Curtis Ford or Stephen Pressfield, but he does paint a tidy story that can stand on its own. I look forward to getting to the rest of the trilogy, but I don't think it will be anytime soon given the wealth of other books I am excited about on my reading table now.

Cheers! - Jason

No comments: