I’ll confess, I bought this one based on the cover art as much as anything. I’m a sucker for a knockout blond with a sword. It turned out to be a good buy.
Audan is a young Viking, son of an ambitious chieftan. A raid goes wrong, and by wrong I mean they don’t kill everybody, and the survivors come for revenge. Audan’s father answers to another chieftan higher ranking than he is. As punishment, he send Audan’s father and his men on yet another raid.
It turns out to be a fight they can’t win.
Audan, though, has friends in high places. Very high places. The gods are watching over him. Freya, Odin, that crew. Although the gods aren’t all on the same side. There’s trouble brewing, and Audan has found himself caught in the middle. Before it’s over, he’ll have faced an undead army, made love to a goddess, and fought multiple battles.
Overall, I enjoyed this novel, enough that I’ve bought the second volume in the series. Roach does a good job with the battle scenes. The sea serpent attack in the second chapter when the Vikings are returning from a raid was especially well done.
There were a couple of things that bugged me. First, a good copy-edit would have been nice. There were places were apostrophes were missing and commas where there shouldn’t have been commas. These tended to through me out of the story. Also, the author wrote in the sound effects, such as “Krack!” rather than describing the sound. I’ve always found this annoying. It’s like reading a book version of the old Batman TV show from the 60s.
Audan takes a lot of punishment, not an uncommon thing in a heroic fantasy novel. I had to wonder, though, how any human being would take the punishment he seemed to take and still function.
Don’t get me wrong. Audan isn’t simply a thud and blunder Clonan. He’s got depth of character. He’s deeply in love with his wife. When he and his brother are offered a night with a group of delectable young ladies as a bribe to join a rival chieftan’s band, he declines. He’s not so faithful later when a goddess takes him to her bed, but then a goddess isn’t the type of woman to take No for an answer.
Marauder appears to be David Roach’s first novel. It’s not without flaws, but the action and character development make it clear he’s an author who is going to go places. If you like raw, gritty Viking adventure with a healthy dose of divine intrigue, you’ll want to give this one a try. Like I said, I’ve bought the second volume.