The Half-drowned King

The Half-drowned King

A Novel

Book - 2017
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"The first installment in a debut trilogy, The Half-Drowned King tells the compelling story of the political intrigues, battles, and struggles for power that led to the rise of King Harald the Fair-Haired, first king of Norway, seen through the eyes of the young man who became his most trusted warrior and advisor. Conjuring a bloodthirsty, superstitious, and thrilling ancient world (9th century), this debut novel is for fans of Game of Thrones, the Vikings TV series, and Outlander"--
Publisher: New York, New York : Harper, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, ©2017.
ISBN: 9780062563699
Characteristics: 431 pages :,map ;,24 cm.


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RomanceAddict Aug 20, 2019

Review excerpt: "'The Half-Drowned King' is the first in a planned trilogy that is a heavily fictionalized retelling of the Saga of Harald Fairhair, which is one of the parts of the 'Heimskringla', an Icelandic Saga written in the 13th Century by Snorri Sturluson.

The trilogy charts the rise of Harald and how he became the first king of Norway in the 9th century. It’s told from the point of view of one of Harald’s dudes, Ragnvald, and his sister, Svanhild. It’s a Viking saga of revenge, politics, and nation building. Basically, I loved it.

It’s a bit heavy and there’s a lot going on, but if you’re looking for something to scratch that 'Game of Thrones' itch (but with real history), I think you’ll like this one."

Jan 28, 2019

Excellent. I couldn't put it down.

SnoIsleLib_LindseyA Oct 27, 2018

This is an undeniable achievement in historical fiction. Hartsuyker knows her Vikings; you can tell this was a labor of love. I was completely transported to Viking Age Norway.

I especially enjoyed how she incorporated their beliefs - in the gods, in magic - in a way that never felt like fantasy or even magical realism. You're in their heads, you simply accept that the undead walk among us, that frost giants and witches are real threats.

I made the mistake of accidentally returning my audiobook to the library before it was due. Switching to print may have affected my overall enjoyment of the book. It's excellent on audio because of the many Scandinavian names and places. Hartsuyker provides a list in the back matter, but I'd rather hear them spoken.

As the story progressed, I grew more interested in Svanhild than Ragnvald. His scenes were surprisingly heavy on dialogue, which made the plot drag. It took me over a month to finish the book, and that's a long time for me.

Having said that, I'm still interested in continuing the series. Without spoiling the ending, I'm keen on seeing particular characters reunite.

SPPL_János Jul 11, 2018

This kickoff to a planned trilogy of Viking Age historical fiction goes beyond the usual battle scenes to depict a richly dramatized world of political machinations, legal wrangling, and women with agency. It can get a bit talky, but Hartsuyker keeps our interest with three engaging main characters who are pushed into conflict by their diverging loyalties. A good crossover for fantasy readers.

Jun 18, 2018

This was a gritty historical novel set in early Norway. The author makes history come alive in her storytelling, and I appreciated the fact that she focuses on women during this period. The narrative of Svanhild and her struggles for adventure and independence were what kept me coming back, her brother, not so much.

Oct 31, 2017

excellent book...promises to be part of a series from this talented writer. lovers of saga literature and adventure tales are certain to enjoy this book. highly recommend reading, "The Half-Drowned King", it is everything that a book of historical fiction can provide! 10 out of 10.

Megan_PNW Sep 13, 2017

This historical fiction has a lot to recommend it. Great characters, a gripping story, and a hint of the kind of ancient political intrigue that makes readers love Game of Thrones without dragging the reader as far afield as Martin does. With three strong likable main characters who each get chapters from their own perspective, the narrative still flows and moves easily never leaving the thread of any one for too long. Like a myth of old, we cheer for our heroes (one a woman of stronger mind than her time) who clash together time and again. No character is perfect for the reader, but all sympathetic in their own way. This careful balance gives the book just the right amount of hope and danger, and realistic frustration that reminds the reader that in history, the heroes did not always have the perfectly orchestrated happily ever after and that every choice has a price.

Although the book has no supernatural elements it will appeal to readers of epic fantasy and gamers who miss the landscape of Skyrim with its barrows and kingdoms.

Go read it.

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