In 1030 C.E., Cnute, king of England, Denmark, and Norway, sends Harald, his middle son, to the Kingdom of Dublin to meet with his Norse-Irish allies. Harald’s mission is to coordinate an invasion of the northern Welsh kingdom of Gwynedd, to replace King Rhydderch who is growing too powerful on England’s borders. Harald is reluctant to be involved in affairs of state, but agrees to go, even though his beloved wife, Selia, is unwell. Harald tells Selia he will not have to take part in the fighting.
While she waits for Harald to return, Selia and her friend Gudrun befriend a young and attractive gleeman (poet-minstrel). When the gleeman is accused of a crime, Selia seeks witnesses in his defense.
Harald becomes involved in a conflict with Dublin’s neighbor, and to appease the king of Dublin, he commits to leading their combined forces in the attack on Wales. The plan is to replace King Rhydderch with Iago, the weaker King of Anglesey. The more Harald learns of these monarchs, the more his allegiance leans toward the man he has been sent to kill.
Will Harald unseat a strong and just ruler to carry out his father/king’s commands, or will he tread a more righteous road, which will destroy the life he and Selia have built in England?
The Sea’s Edge is Book 4 of The Atheling Chronicles. I previously read Book 3, The Cold Hearth. The Sea’s Edge is as intense and strong as Book 3. Harald, King Knute’s son, is placed in the middle of choosing duty, loyalty, or a strong yet calm life with the love of his life, his wife Selia.
My first comment about this book and its research is almost a plagiarism of my first review of Book 3. This book is so well-researched historically. Remember, this is fiction so the license to expand, create, and so forth, exists. However, when I looked up various cultures, comments, etc., they were spot on accurate. So, what I had was a book I enjoyed as well as learned from.
Pettersen’s 4th book is no less violent than the previous one I read. In my mind it is quite graphic. I commented in my previous review that this might be excellent descriptive writing and yet just not my thing.
Violence aside, this is an excellent book. It flows well and if there are times it is not easy to read, it is because of the intricacy of the plot. There is no problem with the writer here.
I think each book I have read can stand alone, but it might be foolish not to begin at the beginning of the series. An excellent read.
read an excerpt...
The rain beat upon the thatch of Gwyn and Gudrun’s new hall, running off in rivulets that wet-tapped the ground in a thousand places on each side. The evening fire in the hall’s center warmed the occupants where they sat upon benches finishing the evening meal. The woodsmoke rose just well enough to find the smoke hole in the roof. The tang of the smoke was as natural as to them as the smell of the brook trout caught that day. This night all savoured barley-bread hearthcakes and a hearty pottage to which the fish chunks had been added. With Gudrun, Meleri, Selia, and their guest, three hirelings and their small families shared the meal. Two older children sat with Meleri. The housecarls Gunnar and Geir joined the gathering, while Sture acted as wardmann, watching through a watery curtain that dripped relentlessly from the roof of an out-building.
“Tell me, Trygve,” Selia said, scooping the pottage with her chunk of hearthcake, “why are you known as Trygve det Kostbar, ‘Trygva the Precious’?”
The ale-scop finished drinking from the horn of ale that was going round and passed it to another. “It is not always the best names that attach themselves. Whether it was originally a jest, I know not, but where I grew up in Jórvik, there was more than one Trygve. They say I was an attractive and well-behaved child and folk called me “Precious.”
“Not because of self-love?” Selia shot a knowing glance to Gudrun, who stifled a laugh.
“I...” Trygve began to speak but probably decided against defending himself. “No, I think not.”
“And what were the other Trygves called?” Gudrun asked with a barely hidden smile.
“Trygve Bent Nose,” Selia suggested.
“Trygve Small Balls?” said Gudrun.
“Trygve Cat Whiskers?” Selia added. By now the women laughed with abandon and even the children joined in.
“Trygve Dog Shit?” said the young boy, Cerdic.
To his credit, Trygve the Precious laughed along with everyone.
The jibing continued until everyone’s wits became stale and the names less clever.
“Well, Trygve,” said Gudrun. “It is a wise man who can laugh when the jest targets him,”
“An ale-scop would soon be unwelcome if he took offence at every fire he shared.”
about Garth Pettersen...
Garth Pettersen is a Canadian writer living in the Fraser Valley near Vancouver, BC. When he's not writing, he is riding horses or working on his acreage. Garth's short stories have appeared in a number of anthologies and in journals such as Blank Spaces, The Spadina Literary Review, and The Opening Line Literary 'Zine. His story, River's Rising, was awarded an Honourable Mention for the Short Story America 2017 Prize, and his fantasy novella River Born, was one of two runners-up for the Windsor Editions (UK) Short Fiction Prize. Garth Pettersen's historical fiction series, The Atheling Chronicles is published by Tirgearr Publishing and books one, two, and three are available at most online outlets (The Swan's Road, The Dane Law, and The Cold Hearth). The fourth book, The Sea’s Edge, will be released in November, 2023.
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