This is one the most satisfying works of historical fiction that I have read in a very long time - and I read a lot of historical fiction. It has exceptional historical accuracy. It accurately portrays Viking culture, traditions, and spirituality to the extent such things are known and weaves wonderfully considered concepts where such things are still the subject of debate. The characters are each fascinating in there own way and well developed with deep understanding. The lead character, Thordis, earned my respect, loyalty, and love just as she won it from the Viking crew. I cannot wait to start the second book.
I will admit that a part of my praise is based on my personal affinity for books related to the Viking Age. If a reader is not particularly interested in that history they may find the book's presentation of that history within the story line a bit of a distraction from the plot. But if so, those parts can be easily browsed. No one should let the historical aspects stop them from enjoying this magnificent story.
Maria Kvilhaug has a distinguished background in Norse Culture, Mythology and Religious studies and it shows in her historical fiction novel The Hammer of Greatness. I first discovered her works via her website.
First of all, there is a great deal of detailed Norse Mythology in this novel as well as Norse language that may be hard to digest for the casual reader. As someone who loves historical fiction and Old Norse history, there were still times I had to stop reading to look something up or clarify the context of an Old Norse word or title. Often the story itself felt more like a vehicle for discussing Old Norse religion, culture and trade routes.
Also, I would feel remiss if I did not mention that there are many pages in this book that discuss rape explicitly. There are few actual rape scenes and they are short and I don’t consider them graphic. However, for those who are sensitive regarding this subject, you may want to avoid this book. Personally, I feel the author handles the topic within the context of the Medieval worldview and societal norms of the period.
As a reader, the most important aspect of a novel for me is Voice and Character Development. Regardless of Genre, if a novel can fool me into thinking the character(s) are real and their voice speaks to my soul, then I am hooked! While I do detest predictable plotlines, well written characters can make up for occasional predictability. Sadly, I never felt like I really connected to the main characters of Ms. Kvilhaug’s novel. I respect Ms. Kvilhaug’s academic efforts immensely, but I never felt truly invested in the story or characters.
While I do not blame the author, as her English is far better than my Norwegian will ever be, but I did notice many grammatical issues in this book. I would be more inclined to place this at the feet of the Editor of the book.
In conclusion, I doubt I will read the other novels in this series, but neither do I feel the weekend I spent reading this novel was wasted.
I have followed Ms. Kvilhaug's youtube listings but this fiction piece puts it into a context more understandable. Her knowledge of Norse literature & mythology is magnificent. I have studied world literature as a means of touching different times & cultures. My depth of comprehension of these ancient times sprung to life. So, I believe that her works will in time be listed among the most notable. The manner in which she causes different cultures to reflect off of each other is both splendid & awesome. Well done!!
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book -- it has a depth of background that makes it clear Ms. Kvilhaug knows her history and culture extremely well. The characters are very well developed, and the descriptions of places and action put you right there, almost like stepping back into a past life. I've already ordered and begun reading the next book in the series. There are books that you want never to end, and I'm very pleased that there are two more books beyond this initial installment of an epic saga.
First of all I love your work and I would not say anything ugly as I respect you deeply as a writer. To be honest, I loved reading all but the quite numerous rape scenes in this book as I've been sold by my birth mother when I was very young and it was on the human market of preying men who were not at all secretly kind and so I found this book to be far too painful to read sometimes but I couldn't put it down nonetheless. Peace and love.
A friend recommend me this book, and this is definitely one the best books I ever read, it has something what make me understand not just myself, it feels like I was living in this times long time ago. I don't know if I really was or if it is just because this book is perfectly written. I never read a book where you are able to feel all spectrum of emotions in the same time, and that make's you realize how relative everything is. This book is to me also a treasure chest of deep wisdom. Freyia (Maria) thank you for your wonderful work! I am looking forward for the next book.
Maria Kvilhaug masterfully weaves a tale that pulls you through a magical vortex on an epic journey to distant times and foreign places. She brings alive cultures and traditions of old as if seen, painting fascinating characters that will enchant your heart and challenge your mind. What a wonderfull breathless ride! The Blade Honer gripped and captured me and kept me captivated reading and away. In dreams and sleepwalking awake. A treasure I would gift to anyone I love!
A good read! This book can definitely give one a glimpse into what it may have been like back in those days. Maria Kvilhaug has done an excellent job weaving her studies of Scandinavian and European Histories into a historical fiction I don't want to put down.
Awesome book !!!. I am a amateur viking age locally self appointed expert with 48 years under my belt in the field . I have found the ''HAMMER OF GREATNESS'' Has expanded my knowledge of the time period , kept my attention thought the real to life people populating the pages. The Author can tell a story and knows her subject . this book is on par with Ken Foyetts [spelling?] ''the pillars of earth'' GO for IT!!!