Genre: historical fantasy
Length: 501 pages
Setting: a slightly modified Norse world similar to when Vikings raided and Christianity was spreading
Interest: I had seen a review of Kay’s newest book, but our library system doesn’t have it yet. They did have a couple of his older books, each set in a different time and place. I decided Vikings sounded fun.
Summary: The story is epic in scope, following several different characters whose stories all intersect at the end. The Ehrling story starts with Bern Thorkellson who steals a horse meant for a death sacrifice, sneaks off the island, and joins a mercenary group. Alun, a Cynegael, is saved from a disastrous cattle raid on Brynn ap Hywell by the cleric Ceinion. That night, the Ehrlings attack and kill Alun’s brother. Alun then travels to the Anglcyn, where he helps resist another Ehrling invasion by the mercenary group containing Bern, which is really just a feint to attack Hywell’s home again. Alun leads two other men through the Spirit Wood (which has never been done) to warn Brynn of the attack with the help of a faery.
Final thoughts: An excellent epic story. There were some pieces that put the story outside of reality (a double moon and some faeries), but it really felt like a Northern European setting back when Christianity was pushing back older mythologies. I was suitably impressed with how everything tied together at the end, and Kay wasn’t afraid to kill off characters, so there was real danger for characters I loved.
Title comes from: Ceinion was a cleric of Jad, who brought Light to the Darkness, of which there was plenty so far north, both literally and figuratively.