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The Whale Road Hardcover – August 21, 2007

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

British journalist Low's debut novel is a rousing, sprawling saga of Viking warriors and the quest for hidden treasure. The adventure begins in A.D. 965, when 15-year-old Orm Ruriksson—aka Orm the Bear Slayer—joins the Oathsworn, a band of raiders that includes his father, Rurik, and is led by the ruthless Einar the Black. After hearing a tale about a mountain of silver that once belonged to Attila the Hun, the band sets out to find it, accompanied by a madwoman who claims to know the treasure's location. The daunting journey becomes more treacherous as competitors also race for the prize. Bluetooth, the King of the Danes and the Norwegians, covets the treasure for himself, and an unscrupulous Catholic monk joins the chase, not for the silver but for the Spear of Destiny—the spear that pierced Christ's side on the cross and was later forged into Attila's sword. Low mixes history, archeology, mythology and nonstop, often-sanguinary action into a fast-moving adventure tale. (Aug.)
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Review

'A company of warriors, desperate battles, an enthralling read' BERNARD CORNWELL 'A fantastic book, one of the best I have read for years. There's a wonderful earthiness to proceedings and he creates a tangible sense of being there. There's a sturdy, lyrical and epic quality about the writing which makes it feel like the kind of saga a Viking would recount in his old age.' SIMON SCARROW 'A stirring Viking series of blockbuster battles and religious intrigue.' Publishing News
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books; First Edition edition (August 21, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312361947
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312361945
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 1.3 x 8.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,759,796 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Stuart W. Mirsky on June 27, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I don't read a lot of viking books these days. Not because I don't like the genre or the era or the ethos though, but because I find so few that do justice to the time and place they aim to depict. More, I'm partial to the literary approach that aims to recapture and evoke the saga tradition in which the original viking stories came down to us (suggesting the voice and tone of the old Icelandic sagas) and that is a rarity in most modern saga novels (though it can still be found, in varying degrees in such viking classics as Eric Brighteyes and Styrbiorn the Strong and, of course, in the Golden Warrior -- or, for an even more recent and solidly successful effort in this direction, Saga: A Novel Of Medieval Iceland).

Nevertheless I recently found myself reading THE WHALE ROAD and was pleasantly surprised to find it tightly paced and rich in its accurate evocation of the viking world (as it might really have been), despite its fairly modern style and voice. The author is apparently an enthusiastic viking reenactor and has spent a deal of time in this milieu, giving a real freshness and sense of reality to the details of the life he describes. Robert Low has vividly recreated a not-so-loveable gang of Norse seafaring mercenaries, and how life might have been for these rogues and cutthroats on the whale road, in this the first of his Oathsworn trilogy.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By J. Nelson on October 13, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Wow. I came upon this novel by chance, and the reviews I read were intriguing, so I took a flyer and bought the book. Growing up I liked Edison Marshall's THE VIKING. I loved Frans Bengtsson's THE LONG SHIPS. I loved Jane Smiley's GREENLANDERS. I loved Dorothy Dunnett's KING HEREAFTER. More recently I have been reading Bernard Cornwell's Saxon series with great enjoyment.

THE WHALE ROAD is one of the absolute best Viking tales I have ever read. The language is starkly beautiful. You find yourself going back to reread a turn of phrase -- and going back to make sure what you think just happened did indeed happen. This story moves fast, yet captures the spirit/language of an ancient saga. Yet it leaves room for your imagination to fill in details.

The story moves with conviction, and does not rely heavily on coincidence, but on logical assumptions and actions by the principal characters. If you like stories of the Northmen, this is a must read.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Brian G. on December 18, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
When I read the description of "The Whale Road" on Amazon, I was skeptical. It seemed to me that the author was trying to bring too many elements together, and that the result was bound to be a jumble.
I could not have been more wrong. "The Whale Road" is a rare treat- a book that combines high adventure, meticulous historical research and the excitement of ancient mysteries. The premise, of a band of oath-sworn comrades (in Old Norse, a "felag") seeking an ancient treasures based on clues that they have to traverse the known world to find, is believable and innovative. The characters are well-developed, from the narrator's companions to the historical and fictional figures they come across in their quest. Those who are familiar with the tale of Sigurd from the Volsunga Saga (VOLSUNGA SAGA - The Story of the Volsungs and Niblungs) and other works of Old Norse literature (e.g., The Sagas of Icelanders: Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition (World of the Sagas) will delight in Low's inventive and fresh look at the legends and tales of this fascinating culture.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on August 23, 2007
Format: Hardcover
In 965, merciless Einar the Black recruits fifteen years old Orm "the Bear Slayer" Ruriksson to his cold-blooded Oathsworn Viking raiders and mercenaries who sell their swords to the highest bidder yet are loyal to one another. The teen was chosen because he is the son of one of the toughest crewmen Rurik and more significant is said to have killed a polar bear; hence the nickname.

An apparent crazy woman insists she knows where Attila's "mountain of silver" is located; so they set sail for the fjord even as deadlier rivals also challenge for the loot including the Danish-Norwegian King Bluetooth and an immoral monk. However, the former wants the silver booty, but the latter seeks a relic of the White Christ, the "Spear of Destiny" that stabbed Jesus as he was crucified and Attila made into his sword.

THE WHALE ROAD is a superb tenth century Norse historical thriller that grips readers the moment Orm joins the Oathsworn band of brothers on their sea escapades all over northern Europe. The story line is fast-paced and never slows down even when the crew disembarks on dry land. Robert Low provides a powerful insightful high seas adventures of a teen growing up fast in the ruthless world of Beowulf.

Harriet Klausner
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