Today I’d like to welcome you to my stop on the tour for The Serpent King, the fourth installment of The Whale Road Chronicles but a brilliant book which can be read as a standalone to introduce you to the series too (as I have read it).  I hope you like my review of the book below.  A big thank you to Vicky Joss from Head of Zeus for a copy of this book and the chance to be on this tour, and please do check out the previous stops on the blog tour! 🙂

Title: The Serpent King
Author: Tim Hodkinson
Publisher: Aries (Head of Zeus)
Genre: Historical fiction
Book format: Digital
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Description: The fight for vengence has no victors…
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The great warrior, Einar Unnsson, wants revenge. His mother’s assassin has stolen her severed head and Einar is hungry for his blood. Only one thing holds him back. He is a newly sworn in Wolf Coat, and must accompany them on their latest quest.
The Wolf Coats are a band of fearsome bloodthirsty warriors, who roam the seas, killing any enemies who get in their way. Now they’re determined to destroy their biggest enemy, King Eirik, as he attempts to take the throne of Norway.
Yet, for Einar, the urge to return to Iceland is growing every day. Only there, in his homeland, can he avenge his mother and salve his grief. But what Einar doesn’t know is that this is where an old enemy lurks, and his thirst for vengeance equals Einar’s…

*Free copy provided by publisher for review…

Review:   Wow, this is such an exciting and action packed adventure! Einar, is a newly sworn in member of the Wolf Coats, a group of elite warriors under the leadership of Ulrich. While the Wolf Coats have a mission to rescue a prisoner, Einar wants to get his revenge on those who killed his mother and stole her severed head. But as a member of the Wolf Coats he must learn to control the rage within himself and wait for his revenge.

I hadn’t read any of the previous books in the Whale Road Chronicles series before beginning this one, so I wasn’t sure if it would be difficult to get into this, but I have to say that after getting to know the characters in the first few chapters I have thoroughly enjoyed it and am so keen to read the previous books now to see what has happend before. The book works well as a standalone, as the author does fill in the gaps of what has happened previously, although I do still think that this book will be enjoyed more if you know some of the characters and their situations first, as it did take me a few chapters to really get into this story.

While Einar wants revenge for his mother’s death, the Wolf Coats have their own missions to follow. The book is filled with an amazing and exciting plot with lots of things happening in several diferent locations. Although it took me a bit of time to get into the story, to understand who all the characters were and the different enemies and allies that existed, it wasn’t too long before I was totally engrossed in the tale and keen to see what happened next. Although as part of the Wolf Coats Einar must quell his thirst for revenge, an opportunity soon arises and I enjoyed what happens when Einar, and the others, head for Thorfinn’s Jarls Gard. The story switches between different locations and shows what is happening with different sets of characters. I just love how this made the whole book feel like I was watching a movie and there is so much happening, with lots of exciting battles, along with some funny and sadder moments too.

A lot of the action happens on the sea and it’s the first time I’ve read a book that focused a lot on things happening at sea as well as on land. I loved the story as a whole and the individual things happening to all of the characters. The banter between the Wolf Coats was fun and things are interesting when the characters first arrive in Orkney. I enjoyed what happened and how it seems that many of the things happening in this book seem to tie in with previous books and back stories of the characters, and despite not reading any previous books it was so easy to follow. I like how interesting the story became and how it showed the different faiths, both Norse and Christian and how they worshipped. The story was just so interesting with so many different things happening and so well written that I just ended up feeling so invested in all of the characters, including some of the more minor ones like Bricriu. I like what happens with him, his wife and some of the thralls in this book, and the many things that end up happening in Jarls Gard, especially towards the end.

A lot happens with Einar and also with Affreca in this book too and I like how things go with Einar’s story and what happens in the last chapters. There are some exciting and interesting moments earlier on too, espeically when something happens with Affreca, and I found myself laughing a little with something that happens with Einar and Surt too, though I don’t want to give away what it is!

The book has some gory violence in it, some descriptions of blood, and the way characters are killed make for some gruesome reading although it does feel like it fits in with the Viking way of life, despite being a bit gory to read in places. There are a few uses of the f swear words as well but it’s mainly the descriptions of some of the violence and things that happen (like the severed head) that might be difficult for some more sensitive readers. The story is a really exciting one and although at the start of reading this I didn’t even know anything about Einar and the band of Wolf Coats, by the end I was so engrossed in the story I just didn’t want it to end. The ending is a brilliant one, satisfying and also surprising. It hints that there could be yet another book in the series which I do hope there will be as I want to see what happens next with Einar and the others. And now I’ve read this book I’m keen to read the first three in the series to see exactly how Einar and the others met and ended up in the situation they’re in.

This really is a brilliant book and perfect for anyone who loves historical fiction, especially set in the Viking era. It’s such an exciting story, so gripping and interesting that I couldn’t stop turning the pages to see what happened. I’ve been fascinated by Viking stories and mythology for a long time which is why I probably enjoyed this book all the more, set in that time period, but it’s just such a fun and interesting and exciting novel that I think anyone with an interest in historical stories in general will enjoy it! It’s best as part of the series but works really well as a standalone too! It’s a book that really kept me glued to the pages and it’s one I’d recommend.

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The Serpent King book cover

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About the author

Tim Hodkinson author pic

Tim Hodkinson was born in 1971 in Northern Ireland. He studied Medieval English and Old Norse Literature at University with a subsidiary in Medieval European History. He has been writing all his life and has a strong interest in the historical, the mystical and the mysterious. After spending several happy years living in New Hampshire, USA, he has now returned to life in Northern Ireland with his wife Trudy and three lovely daughters in a village called Moira.
Tim is currently working on a series of viking novels for Ares Fiction, an imprint of Head of Zeus.

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I hope you have enjoyed my stop on the blog tour today, don’t forget to check out the others stops and if you like the sound of this book please do check it out! 🙂

What do you think of this book?  Do you like historical Viking fiction?  Have you read any others books in the seires? Let me know what you think in the comments below 🙂