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Well, The Whale Road caught me quite by surprise I had never heard of Robert Low when I came across this book, but I am glad that I found him.I loved The Whale Road Not only for the authors ability to tell a good yarn, but because it made me laugh and shocked me all at once.It would not do to get too attached to any characters in this story barring the main character because Robert Low will keep you on your toes, keep you guessing, keep the cast rolling over Most of all the things I liked a Well, The Whale Road caught me quite by surprise I had never heard of Robert Low when I came across this book, but I am glad that I found him.I loved The Whale Road Not only for the authors ability to tell a good yarn, but because it made me laugh and shocked me all at once.It would not do to get too attached to any characters in this story barring the main character because Robert Low will keep you on your toes, keep you guessing, keep the cast rolling over Most of all the things I liked about this book, it is definitely the humour I rarely laugh out loud when I read and I don t mean, burst at the seams laughter, I mean short, amused snorts and guffaws In fact I don t think any other book has made me laugh out loud, other than maybe Bernard Cornwell s Saxon series But this book is filled with small humour that some people may miss due to it s dry, subtlety This dry humour made the book for me I love that the Oathsworn s dynamic involved much mocking and jollity towards each other And there are many terrific put downs that tickled my fancy.So, what else can I say about The Whale Road No, it is not Bernard Cornwell, but that is not a bad thing I think Robert Low is doing his own thing and doing it well.If Asterix and the Vikings, and, Indiana Jones had a baby this would be it I kid you not.I must not forget to mention that it felt like it had two endings, which was a tad bizarre, and the first 40 pages were a little bit of a struggle to comprehend I think for the first 5 I didn t even know what was going on I don t know whether it got better or I just evolved to understanding Low s writing style, but something cleared the murky waters for me at around 40 to 50 pages It may have even been a fewthan that By page 100, I was completely hooked and didn t want to put it down.If you like Asterix and the Vikings, and you like it mixed up with some white entrails, f k words and dry humping on bar tables, then this is the book for you God knows it s the book for me Go figure.If I didn t already have my next book lined up to read, I would be straight on to the next book in this series, because as soon as I got halfway through The Whale Road, I bought the next three books A band of brothers, committed only to each other, rides the waves, fighting for the highest bidder, treading the whale road in search of legendary relicsLife is savage aboard a Viking raiding ship When Orm Rurikson is plucked from the snows of Norway to brave the seas on the Fjord Elk, he becomes an unlikely member of the notorious crew Although young, Orm must quickly become a warrior if he is to surviveHis fellow crew are the Oathsworn named after the spoken bond that ties them in brotherhood They fight hard, they drink hard, and they always defend their ownBut times are changing Loyalty to the old Norse Gods is fading, and the followers of the mysterious White Christ are gaining power across Europe Hired as relic hunters, the Oathsworn are sent in search of a sword believed to have killed the White Christ Their quest will lead them onto the deep and treacherous waters of the whale road, toward the cursed treasure of Attila the Hun and to a challenge that presents the ultimate threatRobert Low has written a stunning epic, a remarkable debut novel Not only a compelling narrative, The Whale Road also brings a new Viking landscape stretching from Scotland through the Baltic and on to Istanbul After reading and LOVING Giles Kristian s series Raven which you should all read I had to find another book to satiate my thirst for the Norse world I am saving The Rise of Sigurd series so that I still havebooks by Kristian to look forward to But its time is coming..The Whale Road is the first book in the Oathsworn series by Rob Low It was great I mean, searching for Attila the Hun s burial chamber in a tale of sea voyages and viking action, pretty cool We were still on the whale After reading and LOVING Giles Kristian s series Raven which you should all read I had to find another book to satiate my thirst for the Norse world I am saving The Rise of Sigurd series so that I still havebooks by Kristian to look forward to But its time is coming..The Whale Road is the first book in the Oathsworn series by Rob Low It was great I mean, searching for Attila the Hun s burial chamber in a tale of sea voyages and viking action, pretty cool We were still on the whale road, in the wind that keened and thrummed the ropes This first addition to the Oathsworn series is a brutal, immersive and realistic coming of age story centred around Orm Rurikson, our protagonist of the story He is introduced into the band by his father, and thrown into a dangerous life that takes a combination of luck and skill to survive.The Oathsworn are a band of Norse warriors who are sell swords that will travel far and wide working on their contracts They are relic hunters, sword brothers, bound to an oath But they are not all to be trustedRobert Low writes with a brutal authenticity that immerses you into this harsh and cruel world of rival bands, betrayal and loss The prose is stripped back and creates a fast pace that sweeps you along an unguessable and fascinating plot Filled with intriguing facts and subtle historical details, this is the perfect prose for such a story.This is a short read, and one that I read on audible, with a fantastic narrator But despite its short nature, there is still plenty of character growth, plenty of action, and plenty of time for tension to be built.The only reason this was not a 5 star read is that while the characters were well developed, there were none that I loved or was especially rooting for Unlike Raven in Giles Kristian s series, Orm was not as easy to connect to But that is the only reason, because everything else was great For any lovers of historical fiction, especially fans of Giles Kristian, this will be a thoroughly enjoyable read that does not have a dull moment And if you have not delved into this genre or historical period, just try it I look forward to progressing further into this series of norse goodness.4.25 5 STARS I re read this book recently and am reminded of what a brilliant writer Robert Low is This is a historical novel of a band of Vikings with all that you would imagine goes with that Long ships, bloody battles and a rip roaring adventure as our band of warriors follow a breadcrumb trail in search of fabled treasure Robert Low is a Viking re enactor and this really shines through, elevating for me this book into something truly brilliant Low s knowledge of the time period is rich and deep, and I re read this book recently and am reminded of what a brilliant writer Robert Low is This is a historical novel of a band of Vikings with all that you would imagine goes with that Long ships, bloody battles and a rip roaring adventure as our band of warriors follow a breadcrumb trail in search of fabled treasure Robert Low is a Viking re enactor and this really shines through, elevating for me this book into something truly brilliant Low s knowledge of the time period is rich and deep, and the depth of the details of combat, weaponry, clothing and sea faring add an authenticity which brings the world and story to life Low s prose is wonderful, dripping with Norse ness, and his characters are living and breathing people This is the perfect saga tale to read around a crackling fire with your oar mates all about you Failing that, it s still brilliant from the comfort of your armchair or sofa Highly recommended It s bloody, it s raw, it s stinky, gruesome and a bit f king rude I love a good viking story and even better, I love a good battle I had 2 issues with this book, one was that Orm was well educated, clever, smart and also a bit of a smart arse I think I missed the bits where we got to learn how he became so wise at such a young age The other was that I m not certain that in 945ad f ck, f ck, f ck was an expression used as commonly as they do in the Oathsworn gang.Having said that, for the It s bloody, it s raw, it s stinky, gruesome and a bit f king rude I love a good viking story and even better, I love a good battle I had 2 issues with this book, one was that Orm was well educated, clever, smart and also a bit of a smart arse I think I missed the bits where we got to learn how he became so wise at such a young age The other was that I m not certain that in 945ad f ck, f ck, f ck was an expression used as commonly as they do in the Oathsworn gang.Having said that, for the entertainment value, it was top notch They should make a movie I am not sure why I did not enjoy this bookIt had a good back bone a saga worthy quest for an ancient relic that had ties to both Atilla the Hun and Christ It had the tension between the decline of the old Gods and the rise of the new White Christ It had great shield wall fights It had dark, ancient tombs where women were sacrificed in terrible pagan rites.Unfortunately, somehow, it just didn t grab me I really wanted to like this book and I just can t put my finger on what it was t I am not sure why I did not enjoy this bookIt had a good back bone a saga worthy quest for an ancient relic that had ties to both Atilla the Hun and Christ It had the tension between the decline of the old Gods and the rise of the new White Christ It had great shield wall fights It had dark, ancient tombs where women were sacrificed in terrible pagan rites.Unfortunately, somehow, it just didn t grab me I really wanted to like this book and I just can t put my finger on what it was that put me off Looking back on it after a couple of days mulling it over I think it ultimately felt soulless to me The characters lacked enough development feelinglike cardboard props than living, breathing people with hopes, dreams and ambitions Maybe harsh, but that s how it felt to me I just couldn t engage with the characters I didn t love any of them and I didn t hate any of them That s problematic.All of this being said, I will probably read the next book at some point Many people seem to like these books and I may just have caught this one at the wrong moment.Two and a half stars rounded down to two Robert Low s The Whale Road takes us back to over a thousand years ago to experience life as a Viking raider through the voice of young Orm Rurikson Orm becomes a member of the Oathsworn, the crew of a Viking raiding ship The Oathsworn derive their name from an oath to Odin that binds them together in brotherhood They are hired as relic hunters Through the many twists and turns of the plot, they eventually end up seeking the buried treasure of Attila the Hun Low firmly thrusts the reader in Robert Low s The Whale Road takes us back to over a thousand years ago to experience life as a Viking raider through the voice of young Orm Rurikson Orm becomes a member of the Oathsworn, the crew of a Viking raiding ship The Oathsworn derive their name from an oath to Odin that binds them together in brotherhood They are hired as relic hunters Through the many twists and turns of the plot, they eventually end up seeking the buried treasure of Attila the Hun Low firmly thrusts the reader in a man s world With one notable exception, women are treated as incidentals, there for the taking The novel is replete with crashing shields, slashing swords, clanging metal, whizzing arrows, dismembered body parts, obscenities, foul smells, graphic descriptions of bodily functions, breast thumping machismo, swinging axes, gushing blood, and fierce hand to hand combat The writing is fast paced and vigorous sometimes a little too fast because it was difficult at times to know what was happening and who was fighting whom The confusion is compounded by the plethora of Nordic characters, some of whom are mentioned in a few lines or a few pages only to disappear entirely from the novel The first few chapters are especially bewildering with their convoluted story line and flashbacks The writing is a little choppy, but one eventually gets caught up in the rhythm of the book and gallops along with the events References to Norse mythology and the conflict with the White Christ abound And punctuated throughout the blood and gore are moments of surprising humor The Oathsworn tease each other mercilessly, engaging in friendly put downs and snappy barbs that are funny As the narrator of events, Orm Rurikson is unflinchingly honest He describes the battlefield as a grim and bloody killing fest, one that bears no relationship to the heroic battle descriptions in the sagas of Norse culture Brotherhood oaths and shield walls notwithstanding, Orm recognizes survival on the battlefield may have as much to do with luck as skill.With its vivid, gritty, and visceral descriptions, this is not a novel for the faint hearted or for those seeking novels about polite society But if you re looking for an action packed, entertaining story, a compelling page turner that grips you into the grisly warp and weft of a Viking raider s life, then this is a book for you.Recommended Life is savage aboard a Viking raiding ship When Orm Rurikson is plucked from the snows of Norway to brave the seas on the Fjord Elk, he becomes an unlikely member of the notorious crew Although young, Orm must quickly become a warrior if he is to survive.His fellow crew are the Oathsworn named after the spoken bond that ties them in brotherhood They fight hard, they drink hard, and they always defend their own.But times are changing Loyalty to the old Norse Gods is fading, and the follow Life is savage aboard a Viking raiding ship When Orm Rurikson is plucked from the snows of Norway to brave the seas on the Fjord Elk, he becomes an unlikely member of the notorious crew Although young, Orm must quickly become a warrior if he is to survive.His fellow crew are the Oathsworn named after the spoken bond that ties them in brotherhood They fight hard, they drink hard, and they always defend their own.But times are changing Loyalty to the old Norse Gods is fading, and the followers of the mysterious White Christ are gaining power across Europe Hired as relic hunters, the Oathsworn are sent in search of a sword believed to have killed the White Christ Their quest will lead them onto the deep and treacherous waters of the whale road, toward the cursed treasure of Attila the Hun and to a challenge that presents the ultimate threat By Loki s hairy arse, this book is best read with a shot or two of Akvavit to get one in the mood for death and destruction Because there s lots of both to go around.Apparently the Oathsworn are like a cross between an urban street gang and the Mafia once you re in, it s next to impossible to get out and your many acquired enemies will remember you forever and show up when you least expect them Forget the whole band of brothers idea these guys are held togetherby an oath to Odin than to any personal loyalties.Orm is no hero, but he keeps getting through situations that he realizes should have killed him, starting with being attacked by a formerly captive polar bear, the accidental survival of which gives him his nickname, Bear Slayer Unfortunately, Orm knows that the epithet isn t deserved and yet it places a target on his back many men will want the glory of being the one to defeat the Bear Slayer.This is very firmly a man s world women feature only as wives not seen very often , as witches there are a couple of those , but mostly as thralls slaves suitable for housework and humping in the otherwise all male camps It is also a very violent world, filled with blood, guts, and shit not a very glorious depiction of the battlefield I appreciated the outlook that Low gives to Orm, that real battle is nothing like the glorious sagas of Norse culture Other authors have explored the idea that heroes are actually people who have blundered through the danger of battle and survived only by luck if you consider the survivors to be the lucky ones , like Kurt Vonnegut in Slaughterhouse Five, for example Low is no Vonnegut, but he certainly takes the glamour out of the battlefield.I was interested to note that the author participates in Viking re enactments during the summer season Perhaps this helps with the depictions of the parry and thrust of his battle scenes in the book, which were very realistic Nothing like actually being part of a shield wall to give him the language to describe it I will definitely be reading book two, The Wolf Sea, to see where Odin leads young Orm next A sweeping saga of Viking voyage and adventure, The Whale Road goes across places in Europe and the Middle East to tell the story of the Oathsworn, a band of brothers sworn to loyalty and solidarity, as they search for an ancient relic believed to have killed the White Christ At the heart of it is a young man named Orm Rurikson, and through him he provides us a view of the thrill as well as the menace of prowling and seafaring, the palpable changes from the old ways to the new with the propagat A sweeping saga of Viking voyage and adventure, The Whale Road goes across places in Europe and the Middle East to tell the story of the Oathsworn, a band of brothers sworn to loyalty and solidarity, as they search for an ancient relic believed to have killed the White Christ At the heart of it is a young man named Orm Rurikson, and through him he provides us a view of the thrill as well as the menace of prowling and seafaring, the palpable changes from the old ways to the new with the propagation of the White Christ religion, and their perilous chase towards the legendary treasures of Attila the Hun.Its gritty portrayal of history and adventure is what keeps the story interesting I admit I find it dragging in some chapters, and I also didn t care much about the characters in this book except for Orm view spoiler when most end up dead, anyway hide spoiler , but Robert Low is such an enterprising writer I couldn t help but appreciate how he makes his narrative alive with his vivid depiction of characters and historical events Low does not amaze me like Bernard Cornwell does, and I think his Orm of Bjornshafen seems lackluster next to Cornwell s Uthred of Bebbanburg, too, but overall this book is a satisfying read My favorite passage from this book We travel the whale road, where the sea is black or grass green and can rear over you like a fighting stallion No bird flies here Land is a memory p.21 DisappointingThe story is fairly good the sort of plot that you would expect from the likes of Conn Iggulden However, The Whale Road doesn t come close to the class of Iggulden, or any other of my favourite historical fiction writers I really struggled my way through from beginning to end There is plenty of action, and most of it is very gory, but the style is tedious One feels that the author is the proud owner of a book of tenth century Norse names, and is trying to break the record for h DisappointingThe story is fairly good the sort of plot that you would expect from the likes of Conn Iggulden However, The Whale Road doesn t come close to the class of Iggulden, or any other of my favourite historical fiction writers I really struggled my way through from beginning to end There is plenty of action, and most of it is very gory, but the style is tedious One feels that the author is the proud owner of a book of tenth century Norse names, and is trying to break the record for how many of them he can cram into 340 pages He also seems to be continually trying to invent new ways for the vicious Vikings to slice up their enemies, and even some of their brothers.The second book in the series is called The Wolf Sea I may get around to reading it someday, but, for the moment I have had enough of Orm s adventures Although the storyline is good, I wouldn t go so far as to recommend it to any of my friends