Tag Archives: Hailstone Mountain

2 more reviews from Moerbe

Mary J. Moerbe at Meet, Write and Salutary, has completed reviewing my Erling Skjalgsson books to date.

She reviews Hailstone Mountain here:

I also think this book blends together Lars Walker’s two types of writing: his Norse saga and more contemporary stuff more. I’m a big fan of both, but maybe it means this book contains a few extra surprises for those who haven’t read his other writings, set in more contemporary and/or futuristic times.

And she reviews The Elder King:

This book really played with tensions. The poor priest Ailill, whom you come to love as a man of faith and action and unabashedly real humanity, has to face three of the greatest challenges for a celibate Christian: romantic love, relics, and . . . Arianism! With a shockingly early possibility of Arianism in Norway!

Thank you, Mary!

Publishing news

The Year of the Warrior
The beloved old cover.

Had a very nice moment on Facebook today. One of my readers posted a list of novels that affected his life, and The Year of the Warrior was at the top of the list. He said, “Each of these moved me spiritually and intellectually. I connected with the characters and the story surrounding them, and finished the book feeling emotionally deeper in my understanding of the world and others.”

Mark Twain said something along the lines of “I can live a whole month off a good compliment.” I think my food budget should be covered for most of June.

In a related matter, I guess I’ll mention that I’ve decided to bring out paperback versions of some of my novels through Create Space. (Actually Ori Pomerantz is doing the real work.) I’m starting with The Year of the Warrior, because then I’ll be able to sell it along with West Oversea at Viking events and have them in sequence. Hailstone Mountain should come later.

The e-book of TYOTW is published by Baen, but it turns out I have full rights to publish a palpable version. Can’t use Baen’s cover though, so our friend Jeremiah Humphries is working on a new one.

Oh yes, don’t forget that Viking Legacy, the book I translated, is now available!

Our Names Are Dropped in the Latest B&C Podcast

In his podcast today, John Wilson of Books and Culture talks about how much he enjoyed Lars’ latest !!spell-binding!! novel, Hailstone Mountain, and a bit about how he was provoked to read it. The world feels smaller somehow.

If you too are brand new to Lars Walker’s novels, learn more by following this wonderful, insightful, and humility-inspiring blog or through the links below:

(via Kevin Holtsberry)

Mountainous Praise

Pastor and writer Frank Luke gives my Hailstone Mountain a very nice review today:

The strongest theme I saw was honor and duty in a person’s life. Duty means doing what needs to be done whether you like it or not. Especially if you like it not. The book revolves around honor. Men go to great lengths to gain or keep honor. Things they will not do for themselves, they do to help others. Men they would otherwise befriend they may not because of differences in spirit or blood. When people do their duty to God, the right things happen. When they forget, they and all those who serve under them suffer.

Dwarfish things

The word “dwarves,” was (more or less) invented by J. R. R. Tolkien. The “proper” spelling is “dwarfs,” but the Professor had his own secret purposes.

Someone posted the following video on Facebook, and it interested me enough to share it here. Armorer Tony Swatton creates a replica of Gimli’s axe from the “Lord of the Rings” movies, but does it in a traditional Damascus style. The results are impressive.

This particular axe (John Rhys-Davies actually carries three) is a stylized version of a Viking bearded axe (“bearded” refers to the extended lower horn of the cutting edge). The technique used here, however, is not the sort of damascening the Norse did. Viking pattern welding involved twisting together bundles of rods with differing carbon content, so that strength and flexibility would be maximized (or so they hoped).

I inserted a dwarf into Hailstone Mountain, in a scene I like quite a lot. My dwarves (dwarfs?) are a little different from Tolkien’s, though.

Hailstone Mountain, Snippet Five

I apologize for the cliffhanger ending on this one, but only out of politeness, because I did it on purpose. You can buy the book here. It doesn’t cost much.

One of the thralls came to me then with a complaint. As you may recall from my earlier tales, Erling had a plan for his thralls whereby they bought their freedom through labor carried out in the evenings, after their day’s work for him was done. As his priest and the only man about who knew letters, I was in charge of running the thing (granted, the Norse have a kind of writing of their own, but I don’t know it, and Erling wanted me to do the job since it had been, in part, my idea, thus earning me the headache). The thrall was unsatisfied with the plot of ground he’d been given to sow barley on. I ended having to go and inspect it with him. I can’t recall now how I resolved the matter, but I suppose I must have. It was evening and suppertime when I headed back to the steading at Sola, entering the loose oblong of buildings that surrounded the yard. My goal was the new hall, set end-to-end with the old hall which we used only for great feasts these days. The day had cooled enough that I wished I’d worn my cloak. I was wearing layman’s clothes, as most priests in Norway did in those days, except for special occasions.

I went into the entry room, then turned right and stepped over the threshold into the high, smoky hall. It was peat smoke, a homely smell. A long fire burned in the hearthway down the middle. Pillars of wood that marched down either side of the hearthway upheld the rafters. Fixed benches for the diners to sit on ran down both side walls and across the far end, and before them trestle tables had been set up for eating. Erling’s high seat was midway down the bench on my left, between two specially carved pillars. My place was on his right. Erling’s wife Astrid Trygvesdatter, fair headed and great with child, had her seat on the women’s bench at the end. Their little boy Aslak sat beside her, when she could get him to sit still. Erling’s mother Ragna sat on Aslak’s other side.

The seat for the honored guest was on the bench across from Erling. Our honored guest tonight was in fact a woman–Thorbjorg Lambisdatter, a young widow who owned her own trading ships and had gone from being a prosperous to a very wealthy merchant. (Lawfully the business belonged to a brother I’d never met, but he’d been lamed in battle and was home-bound.) Thorbjorg was a tall, robust woman with a strong face and fiery red hair. She might have looked almost mannish were it not for her slender hands and graceful walk. Continue reading Hailstone Mountain, Snippet Five

Hailstone Mountain, Snippet Four

Hailstone Mountain can be purchased for Kindle here.

I returned my attention to the fine day. Sola farm, named for the sunny southern slope on which it stood, gave a generous view of the country south along the Norwegian coast. Looking that way I had the blue sea to my right, bending into Sola Bay whose wicked surf was our constant chorus. We tasted the brine in the air always, like breakfast fish. Stretching southward was the unremarkable but rich country of Jaeder, flat by Norwegian standards and rocky, good country for raising grain and digging peat.

I could not see north as I stood, but just so you’ll know, there was more of the same kind of country in that direction, interrupted by the great water of the Hafrsfjord, the land stretching northward toward the tip of Jaeder, which is a peninsula ending in the Boknafjord. Off to our east was more of the Boknafjord and Erling’s winter market of Stavanger, with mountains beyond, and north over the water was the rest of Norway, a rocky and mountainous country fit only for goats and trolls if you want my opinion.

I tell you this to explain why Erling was a busy man. Norway, “the north road,” is a long land, and ships go ever up and down the coast, for trade mostly, but also for war. If you’re coming from the south, around the southern tip at Lindesness, you pass the regions of Agder and Jaeder. Agder and Jaeder are niggling for harbors. The first good harbors are up in our country, at Risa and in the Hafrsfjord.

So if you mean to make that trip, it’s good to be on friendly terms with Erling Skjalgsson, lord of Sola. One may, with luck and a fair wind, pass by Erling’s country on a long summer day, but it’s not a thing to gamble on.

All this had been true even before the late King Olaf Trygvesson gave Erling, his brother-in-law, lordship over the country from Lindesness all the way north to Stad, thus adding another good day’s sail to our reach.

True, this lordship was disputed now, Olaf Trygvesson being dead at the bottom of the Baltic and his enemies Jarl Erik and Jarl Svein ruling up in Nidaros as sworn men of Svein Forkbeard, the king of Denmark.

But Erling Skjalgsson was not a man to give ground to trifles like kings and mortality. He ruled as he had ruled, and his enemies had failed to take that rule from him. Change seemed even less likely now that Jarl Erik had been summoned to help his king chastise the English.

Hailstone Mountain, Snippet Three

Hailstone Mountain can be purchased for Kindle here.

At last the girl Freydis came into view, yellow-haired and buxom, leaping the fence lightly (giving me a glimpse of a pretty ankle whether I liked or not) and running lightly through the grass to her uncle, Lemming. Her uncle stopped what he was doing and gave her his full attention, as he ever did.

“I need a new ribbon,” she said. “A blue one, to braid in my hair. Deirdre has some she wove. She’ll trade me one for one of your bronze pins.”

Lemming summoned his strength and said, “No.”

Freydis pouted and asked, “Why?” She was a master pouter, that girl. God had given her a fair, plump mouth and she knew how to use it to get her way, as many men had learned, even men better defended (like me) against her whims than Lemming. Continue reading Hailstone Mountain, Snippet Three

Hailstone Mountain, Snippet Two

I should mention that if you have an established book blog and would like a free review e-copy of Hailstone Mountain, I can arrange to get you one.


I sat on the stone home-field fence, watching Lemming in the meadow. The big, ugly smith was doing his sword drill, as was his daily custom. Dividing an unseen circle in the air again and again, swinging Smith’s Bane, the heirloom sword Erling Skjalgsson had given him, with a corded arm that never seemed to weary, making whistling sounds in the air. It was a beautiful bright day in spring, an uncommon enough event to make me wish to sit in the sun and revel a bit. A seagull lit a little distance away to make a meal of something he’d snatched. Another gull flew in to dispute it with him, and they squabbled loudly, using their beaks on one another. The disputed prize, I saw at last, was a bloody seagull chick.

“He’s good,” said a voice, and I turned my head to see Erling Skjalgsson coming up behind me, tall and fair, dressed in a blue linen summer shirt.

“I suppose he is. He’s been in fights enough and he still lives. I’m no judge of swordsmanship. My folk weren’t fine enough for swords. An axe for me, when I must needs fight.”

“Would you like to learn?”

I smiled. “Steinulf once told me, ‘Seven days to learn to fight with an axe. Seven years to learn to use a sword.’”

Erling smiled too. “That’s about right. Still, you’ll be that much older seven years hence whatever you do. If you’d like to add swordsmanship to your skills, you’ve but to ask.”

“Thank you, but I think there are better ways for a priest to spend seven years.”

“Please yourself.” Erling settled his elbows on the stones and watched Lemming. “I wonder where he learned,” he said.

“What do you mean? He practices every day.”

“As you yourself pointed out, it takes seven years, more or less. It’s not been that long he’s had the sword. He was skilled from the day he filched that weapon from my father’s dead hand, though only new-freed, and no thrall is trained to the sword.”

“How do you explain it then?”

“I think Lemming wasn’t born a thrall. I think before his enthrallment he was raised as a warrior. We contrived to get a little of his story from him, as one pries meat from a mussel, how his brother was sacrificed and how Freydis is his niece, but there’s more to the story.”

“I suppose we could ask him.”

“Do you think it would do any good?”

“With Lemming? No.”

“I agree. But I do wonder.”

“And now so do I.” Continue reading Hailstone Mountain, Snippet Two

Hailstone Mountain, Snippet One

A look at my sales figures suggests to me that I need to promote Hailstone Mountain, my new novel. So I’ll be doing some snippets. Here’s the first, actually the Prologue:

I sat in the darkness. The mountain-rats slept around me. I could see some of their forms in the firelight. My brown cat lay curled against my leg, purring soundlessly. They’d shared their supper with us—dried fish.

I felt no need of sleep just then. I’d slept a lot on my high stone bed.

“Are you awake, Outsider?” a voice asked. At first I thought it might be the cat speaking again, but then I saw it was a boy, one of the mountain-rats. Although I could not see him clearly, I thought I knew which one he was. Sixteen winters or so, with bright blue eyes.

“I’m awake, my son.”

“Why do you call me your son?”

“It’s what I call everyone. Son or daughter. It’s my business to be a father to people.”

“I never knew for sure who my father was.”

“That’s just why I’m here.”

“May I ask you a question, then, …Father?”

“Of course.”

“Have you been out in the great world?”

“Aye. And mean to be again.”

“Is it really there?” Continue reading Hailstone Mountain, Snippet One

Hailstone Mountain by Lars Walker

This is an absolute ripping yarn, as ripping a yarn as you are likely to find, and unlike some TV series, it’s steeped in solid historical detail. Do want a fun sense of how Vikings lived in 1000 A.D.? Read Lars’ Erling novels.

This one is the fourth, but the first two are combined into one book, The Year of the Warrior. Next comes West Oversea, which you can learn about by searching this blog. And here, Hailstone Mountain (The Erling Skjalgsson Saga) brings us the courageous, noble Erling Skjalgsson stepping into the battle of his life.

First, he appears to be wasting away without reason. Father Ailill discerns he has been poisoned by magic and must find the magician to break the spell. Erling isn’t willing to risk everyone’s life on a quest to save his own, so his family and friends fear he will die, but when Lemming’s daughter disappears, they suspect she has been kidnapped by the minions of old magical people who kill select people in order to live forever. Whereas he would not fight for his life, Erling will fight against this abomination. That is what kicks everything off, and Lars doesn’t spend a chapter here and there describing the life cycle of trees. Each adventure builds to the next.

(Quick aside: View this photographic creation called “Cave Dwellers” by Folk Photography) 

Lars’ heroes are epic sized, but they are also realistically drawn. They deal with honor, slavery, and bigotry just as their historic counterparts did. One of the moving threads in this book has German priests refusing to work with a pagan magician who has joined their team. They could not condone the work of the devil in this man (a fair idea), and yet their motives were also of the devil. Sometimes, Ailill is no better. I wonder if he had a greater concept of God’s magnificent grace and less of his own worthlessness, would he have spoken an apt word to these men, like he does to the pagan in the beginning, and temper their distain? But bigotry runs deep, especially when its partially dug by religious convictions. It’s slow to correct course.

Continue reading Hailstone Mountain by Lars Walker