Review: Sigurd’s Sword by Eric Schumacher

From best-selling historical fiction novelist, Eric Schumacher, comes the second volume in Olaf’s Saga: the adrenaline-charged story of Olaf Tryggvason and his adventures in the kingdom of the Rus.

AD 968. It has been ten summers since the noble sons of the North, Olaf and Torgil, were driven from their homeland by the treachery of the Norse king, Harald Eriksson. Having then escaped the horrors of slavery in Estland, they now fight among the Rus in the company of Olaf’s uncle, Sigurd. 

It will be some of the bloodiest years in Rus history. The Grand Prince, Sviatoslav, is hungry for land, riches, and power, but his unending campaigns are leaving the corpses of thousands in their wakes. From the siege of Konugard to the battlefields of ancient Bulgaria, Olaf and Torgil struggle to stay alive in Sigurd’s Swords, the riveting sequel to Forged by Iron

My Review:

In book two, we see more of Torgil than Olaf; it’s predominately his story. These poor guys go from the proverbial frying pan into the fire: starving during an almost accidental siege; battling armies many sizes larger than their own; fighting under a glory-loving prince who cares little for the welfare of his men. Our northerners—fighting with the Rus—are stout, fearless fellows but everyone has a limit! And our Torgil also has high moral standards which don’t align with their mission:

When the men disbanded, I called after Lord Sigurd, for the tidings did not sit well with me and I wished to speak with him in private. He turned and cocked a red eyebrow at my approach. “What is it, Torgil?”
I looked about me to ensure that no one was near. “Lord. Forgive me, but I was there when General Pretich pledged his peace to the Pecheneg khan. Why are we breaking that pledge, and why is General Pretich going?”
Sigurd’s blue eyes regarded me for a long time, as if he was trying to determine if I was serious or not. “Pledges are broken all the time, lad. Especially where rulers are concerned.”
I felt my jaw slacken as my father’s words came to my mouth. “What is a man if his word cannot be trusted?”

Torgil has an  even more personal dilemma. He is in love with their childhood friend Turid and wants to marry her, but she has other ideas. Turid wants to be a warrior—she always has—and he is obliged not only to be patient with her but help the girl achieve her dream. So now he has two people to watch over, though he can’t fuss over his beloved! She’s too independent. But Torgil does get a break; Olaf has the good fortune to find himself assigned as a personal guard to Princess Olava, which takes him out of the action for a while. He’ll be back.

It seems to me that this book is a bridge between the youth of these three characters (Olaf, Torgil, and Turid) and their grown-up adventures. In this volume the main intent is to stay alive. As the author says, it’s a bloody year in Rus history and I’m not exactly sure how it forwards the story of Olaf Tryggvason, but it certainly gives us a lot of background!

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Meet Eric Schumacher

Eric Schumacher (1968 – ) is an American historical novelist who currently resides in Santa Barbara, California, with his wife and two children. He was born and raised in Los Angeles and attended college at the University of San Diego.

At a very early age, Schumacher discovered his love for writing and medieval European history, as well as authors like J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. Those discoveries continue to fuel his imagination and influence the stories he tells. His first novel, God’s Hammer, was published in 2005.

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