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The Half-Drowned King  By  cover art

The Half-Drowned King

By: Linnea Hartsuyker
Narrated by: Matthew Lloyd Davies
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Publisher's Summary

An exhilarating saga of the Vikings that conjures a brutal, superstitious, and thrilling ninth-century world and the birth of a kingdom - the debut installment in a historical literary trilogy that combines the bold imagination and sweeping narrative power of Game of Thrones, Vikings, and Outlander.

Centuries ago, in a blood-soaked land ruled by legendary gods and warring men, a prophecy foretold of a high king who would come to reign over all of the north....

Ragnvald Eysteinsson, the son and grandson of kings, grew up believing that he would one day take his dead father's place as chief of his family's lands. But, sailing home from a raiding trip to Ireland, the young warrior is betrayed and left for dead by men in the pay of his greedy stepfather, Olaf. Rescued by a fisherman, Ragnvald is determined to have revenge for his stepfather's betrayal, claim his birthright and the woman he loves, and rescue his beloved sister, Svanhild. Opportunity may lie with Harald of Vestfold, the strong young Norse warrior rumored to be the prophesied king. Ragnvald pledges his sword to King Harald, a choice that will hold enormous consequence in the years to come.

While Ragnvald's duty is to fight - and even die - for his honor, Svanhild must make an advantageous marriage, though her adventurous spirit yearns to see the world. Her stepfather, Olaf, has arranged a husband for her - a hard old man she neither loves nor desires. When the chance to escape Olaf's cruelty comes at the hands of her brother's arch rival, the shrewd young woman is forced to make a heartbreaking choice: family or freedom.

Set in a mystical and violent world defined by honor, loyalty, deceit, passion, and courage, The Half-Drowned King is an electrifying adventure that breathtakingly illuminates the Viking world and the birth of Scandinavia.

©2017 Linnea Hartsuyker (P)2017 HarperCollins Publishers

What listeners say about The Half-Drowned King

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
  • TC
  • 04-06-18

I was disappointed

This is a review of the Audible version.
I guess I was just expecting more from these characters; I became frustrated with Ragnavald's and Svanhild's constant second-guessing of their EVERY single decision. Other reviewers have raved about the author's nuanced portrayal of the brother and sister; I found them tedious. Ragnavald's, in the throes of self-doubt and introspection, suddenly and boldly challenges some rival of his, completely going against his own advice. It often felt like his thoughts and his actions were in direct contradiction, and as a result he comes across as bumbling.

And Svanhild! Yikes. I couldn't. I just couldn't see her as the indomitable, strong, self-possessed Viking woman that I'm sure Hartsuyker meant her to be. Instead, I saw her as a tease. On the one hand she sees her own mother as weak-willed for having taken Olaf as her second husband, yet she herself resorts to coquettish behavior of the worse sort in order to gain protection from men she thinks will be of help to her. She would rather resort to running away from her home and living in the wild than see herself trapped in a marriage not of her choosing, then she bargains herself off to become Solvi's second wife, then acts a pouting, petulant child on her wedding night. What exactly was she expecting? Instead of seeing her as self-determined woman who chooses her own path, I saw her as more of an impulsive teenager who bounces from one near-catastrophe of her own making to the next, with little concept of the real danger she puts herself and others through. The character I enjoyed the most was Solvi; he was, while by no means a romantic, actually quite charming in his own way. His treatment of Svanhild, and even Ragnavald, to an extent, could have been much harsher.

And did every single character have to be a descendant of kings? How many kings does one kingdom need?

11 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Really Good First Novel

I'm a sucker for a history or novel set in the Viking era. This is one of the better Viking historical novels. This is not the typical cover-to-cover blood and gore story, but has a bit more historical accuracy and balance The story is well developed and the narration was great.

Very much looking forward to the rest of the trilogy.

4 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Wanted to love this story, but was disappointed.

I always love a good viking story and I loved that this book steered away from the pillaging, plundering, and the battles normally associated with them. This book covered more on their politics and relationships, and I loved that it even touched on their beliefs and myths. I saw other reviews and I find I am the opposite of their feelings on this book. For me Linnea Hartsuyker does a good job on this story, but I would have probably enjoyed it more physically reading it. I just found Matthew Lloyd Davies to be distracting and his narration threw me off the story with some of the voices he used for the character's. I didn't feel I was listening to a story about the Norse people, especially Viking men. I understand the Norse weren't always rough and gruff and all that, but when Davies was narrating it felt like the character's belonged in an English Court or came out of a Pride or Prejudice book. There were a few times that Davies really hit it with a few of the character's, and I did enjoy his voice, but I just feel it wasn't the right voice for this book.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars

mediocre

good narrator but it doesn't jell into a story. needs more work overall apart from prose

1 person found this helpful

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not good

the story was so dull and slow I just couldn't stay interested. narrator was really lackluster too.

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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An engaging tale of relationships

I must say this was not what I expected going into this book. I had my preconceptions on the Vikings and their culture, I was hoping for an action packed adventure of a young boy becoming a man but what I got was a story of relationships, family, love, politics and kings. Yes there were war and battles but I stayed for the play like drama and the unexpected turns that came about. This is a very good foundation for an epic tale and I’m excited to see where this ends! I recommend this for anyone wanting to sink their teeth into a culture, and time to really pay attention to the details.

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Great Realistic Fiction

This novel was well written. This novel has a realistic/historical fiction vibe to it and how the Vikings created Norway. Something I really enjoyed about this novel is how realistic many of the characters were. How battle wounds and frostbite affect people for years. The individual perspectives on situations and the overall story is a great read.

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Great Epic

Excellent narration of a great new epic to get lost in. I love that it followed a brother and sister who had to make their own paths.

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enjoyed listening to good story

good story. great narration exciting moments with a good twist. look forward to a continuation

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    4 out of 5 stars

C

Excellent Viking fiction! Enjoyed the way the author told the story from different character perspectives. Well done!