"It is wiser to stand in front of the bear than to turn his back to him.”
After reading Giles Kristian’s Raven trilogy and then Lancelot and Camelot, I was certain that this would be a 5-star read. I was not disappointed.
God of Vengeance is book one of The Rise of Sigurd, Giles Kristian’s prequel trilogy to Raven. This is the beginning of an epic Viking saga tale about Sigurd, who begins as a young man. A fantastic story that was great to listen to on Audiobook, narrated by the fantastic Philip Stevens.
Sigurd is the younger son of Jarl Harold, an inexperienced warrior who yearns to prove himself to both his father and brothers. But, unbeknown to him, he will receive more opportunities to become a warrior than even he would like. This is a tale of a pursuit of vengeance, where Sigurd with a small band of allies fights to survive, with the goal to one day get revenge on King Gorm, the Oathbreaker, who betrayed and killed Sigurd’s father and brothers.
“As with all the stories, there's always smoke before the fire kindles.”
As always, Giles Kristian’s prose shines through in the narration by Philip Stevens. I would say that the pacing of this story was perfect, with the fantastic blend of characterisation, action and intrigue for my tastes. This is somehow made even better by the fantastic reading by Philip Stevens, who has a voice that completely immerses you into Kristian’s gritty, authentic, dangerous world.
One of the strongest aspects of God of Vengeance is the characters. From Sigurd himself, to the bloodthirsty priest Asgot, to the steadfast Olaf and the frenzied Black Floki. In this, Kristian again forms a band of warriors, each with their own distinguishable characteristics that makes them all unique. He forms the tone and atmosphere of such a band brilliantly, showing the tensions between each other but equally the camaraderie they forge through the blood of their enemies.
Part of what creates such an immersive experience is how Giles Kristian makes sure to omit modern sayings, and instead adopts seemingly authentic Norse figures of speech. Combined with the historical detail, this immersed me into the beginning of this tale of the rise of Sigurd.
“Even the old hounds can bite.”
Overall, God of Vengeance is a great first instalment in The Rise of Sigurd trilogy. The plot, prose, narration and everything else blend together to craft a fantastic experience. Whilst The Rise of Sigurd is a prequel to the Raven series, you can begin with this.