This is the Author’s debut novel, and the first in The Shardheld Sage series.
The saga is set back in history during the time of the Norsemen, and is very well researched. As the reader progresses through the pages they receive a glimpse of life as it was, not only for the Norsemen themselves, but also for the poor souls they captured and used as slaves. But don’t think that this is just a historical novel, as it’s not; it is so much more than that.
As this is the first in the series, the character development takes it time and no one character takes the foreground as being the main lead throughout this book. Each comes into focus, and then drops back for a while to give the other a chance at the limelight. I felt this worked well as it served as a ‘hook’ into the rest of the series. It made me feel as if I want to read the rest of the saga to find out where the development of the characters would lead, and who would come out on top. The part of the chattel, and again I can’t go into too much detail without revealing spoilers, is written beautifully and you can feel the anger and resentment that this person has for their master as well as others he interacts with who try to show some kindness. His bitterness, and also loss of self, engulf his every moment in this novel and, I was sure when I started reading that he would be the main lead. His master also features strongly in this first book, and is not the stereotypical Norse Man of history. He is weak, self-centred and, I have to say this, a downright coward; the kind of person who you just want to shake. However, the Author explains the reasoning why he is like this, rather than leaving us guessing and hoping it would all be explained in later books. This makes me want to read on and see will his character develop to become the type of Viking his Father can be proud of, or will he return to his habits of old.
The world inhabited by these characters is well written and descriptive; you can feel the cold of the biting wind and hearing it howling when it blows and your arms ache from the everyday tasks to keep the town alive. It’s not only a well written book from the visually descriptive angle, it also assaults your nostrils as well, which is not an easy thing to do when placing words on paper but, the Author manages to do this without effort and it adds to the well created medieval fantasy this book is.
My only criticism about this book was there were some sloppy grammatical errors that a diligent proof-reader should have picked up on, if not a good editor. Although they did not detract from the plot in any way, the repetition of some words back to back (the the, for example) eventually became irritating, and is the reasoning behind my rating this book as I have. Having said this, I would like to read the remaining books in the saga, as they are published, just to satisfy my curiosity as to how things will pan out.
I would recommend this novel to anyone looking for a quick and enjoyable read, as it’s only 142 pages in length, but it will also appeal to lovers of the sci-fi and fantasy genres, plus readers looking for something a little different in the Norse and Viking arena.
Originally reviewed on: http://catesbooknuthut.wordpress.com/2013/07/31/review-shardfall-paul-e-horsman/
(reviewed 45 days after purchase)