Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The Viking in me

A long time ago, when I was a tennis-watching, fanatic worshipper of a certain blond Swedish serve-and-volleyer, I tripped on all things Viking.

And being a very all-or-nothing type, I wasn't content with merely being a fan. No. I had to read up on Scandinavian history, read books by Swedish, Danish or Norwegian authors, own a road-map of Sweden, an English-to-Swedish dictionary, collect Swedish stamps, listen to Swedish musicians (Europe, Roxette, Abba, Ace of Base, you know...). I dreamt of doing up my home in Swedish glass, blond wood and Ikea furniture.... and my daughter would, of course, be named Annika.

My craze probably peaked with my Norse Mythology project, where I would read up on the subject and take little notes on Thor, Odin, Mjollnir, Ragnarok, Valhalla, Aesir, Vanir, and a lot more besides, that I thought I had forgotten. Part of my fascination (God, what a nerd I must've been) was because, somewhere, at the back of my mind, I planned to write a great epic . A historic, viking-era saga.

That more or less describes what I'm reading now - The Whale Road, by Robert Low. I couldn't be happier with it - I have about a quarter to go. Set in 800 - 900 AD, it is about a group of Vikings in quest of treasure. The author, Robert Low, apparently himself takes part in Viking re-enactments (more on that here at and it shows in its fast pace and action-packed content. The atmosphere he evokes is almost tangible - the smells, the sounds, the emotions of it. The style is manly, yet poetic. Also, though I am no expert, I have read much shoddy historical fiction - there are no anachronisms I can point out here. This is no slim tale masquerading as an epic.

The protagonist, Orm is someone I've been able to empathise with more than any other character in recent times.

And luckily, this seems to be a trilogy - so I can plunder, pillage, and search for treasure to my heart's content.

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