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.
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!
Pat Patterson dropped a rather nice review of The Elder King over at Goodreads:
Take Major Mythic Story; kick it HARD in the nose; and then…DANCE! (while you can)
On the off-chance that you HAVEN’T read Lars Walker until now, you are in for a treat. When “The Elder King” became available on March 14, I murmured “HOORAY!”The only reason I was that restrained is because of the overwhelming backlog of reviews I owe, of excellent books written by excellent writers. I really did NOT want to disrupt my queue! However, I downloaded the book, and then let my affection and Need to Read take over.
I clicked over to the Amazon listing for The Elder King today, and was delighted to see that I already have 6 reader reviews, all glowing.
Thanks to everyone who took the trouble write a review. It
does matter, and it is appreciated.
It occurs to me that I could appeal to madness of crowds, and ask for promotional tips.
What methods would you suggest for a writer with not too much money to draw attention to his work?
We all know, of course, that the better the advice, the less
likely I am to take it. Because really useful promotional techniques generally
involve a degree of chest-puffing, arm-waving, and horn-tooting that’s simply
beyond my capacity.
I raised my face to look at him. “Why have I never heard of this?”
I asked. “I’d think Augvaldsness would be a place of pilgrimage for the whole
north – for the English and the Franks as well.”
“We’ve been chary
of the great Roman church here in Rogaland,” said Baard. “They keep throwing
that Arian thing you touched on in our faces, when they notice us at all. We’d
as soon not have them looking too closely at our ways. We’ve learned that when
the Romans look for error, they generally find it, whether it’s there or not.”
“As an Irishman, I
know what you mean,” I said.
Baard slipped the
cover back on the reliquary, and we went back out into the dark. You’d think
that that revelation would be my chief memory of that night, but it pales in recollection,
because of what followed.
As we stepped back
through the entry and into the hall, a figure filled my view, dark against the
light, haloed like a saint in some eastern icon. She sidestepped right to let
me pass, and I stepped left to let her pass, and so we did that foolish dance
you do in narrow places, each trying to make way for the other. At last we both
stopped and laughed, and by now I could see her face.
It was the
loveliest face I’d ever seen on human head. She was woman in her full bloom,
but slender. A few strands of hair that peeked from under her headcloth were
light brown, and her eyes – those eyes! I see them even now – large and blue
under dark brows slightly curved. Her face was longer than an oval, rather
triangular in shape to make room for those great eyes, and her lips were full, but not to excess.
At that very
moment I felt my stomach lurch, as if I’d stepped down a well in the dark.
I closed my eyes
and shook my head, fearing I’d eaten something bad and was about to shame
myself before this woman, through being sick. The feeling passed.
Then I looked back
in her eyes, and my stomach went whump again.
I looked away. All
I looked back at
I was lost for
words to say, but Baard moved up from behind me and broke the moment.
“I was always told that the Centurion was a Roman named Longinus,”
“You were told
wrong. The centurion was a Norseman named Vidfarna. Maybe they called him
Longinus in the army. I know not. And the proof of my story –ˮ he paused for a
lick – “is the Nail.”
“The nail…” I
“A nail from the
crucifixion?” I gaped.
I stood up from
the bench. “This has gone far enough,” I said. “I know I’m a mere foreigner, an
Irishman among the Norse and a butt for jokes, but I wasn’t born after
breakfast today. I’ll give you this, though – you tell a good tale.” I’d been
looking for the chance to take a walk anyway – I needed to drain off my
Baard stood with
me and tugged the sleeve of my robe, getting grease on it. “I’ve had priests
tell me the same thing before. But I can show you.”
Thought I’d do a snippet of the new novel tonight. Not sure how long it will take to publish it, but it’s essentially written. Probably going to my Publishing Gremlin tomorrow. lw
Part One: The Crying Stave
I recall it as the
night of two visions. One vision was for the land, the other for me. Together
they marked a turning place.
And neither was
for the better.
We were feasting at Augvaldsness. If God blessed our efforts, matters would now be less tangled in the land. Jarl Erik Haakonsson, with whom Erling Skjalgsson could never be at peace, had returned again to England to serve his lord, Prince Knut the Dane. This freed Erling to renew his friendship with Erik’s brother Jarl Svein, whom he rather liked. Svein sat now as lord of the north of the land, under Denmark. We were crowning their friendship by handfasting Erling’s son Aslak to Svein’s daughter Sigrid. The two were young, but such betrothals were common, and the young people liked each other well enough.
Baard Ossursson, steward of Augvaldsness, was a man who liked his boiled pork. It was his habit to take a chunk from the platter in his big hand, squeeze it so the fat ran out between his fingers, and slurp the greasy runnels off as they oozed out. He was playing at that as we sat side by side, just to Erling’s right at the high table in the hall.
“This is an important place, Augvaldsness,” Baard said to me between slurps. “The man who controls the strait here at Kormt Island can stop traffic up and down the North Way like a plug in a jar. The kings of Augvaldsness in olden times were the mightiest along the North Way. You can run outside the island, take the sea way to the west, but the weather out there’s chancy.”
“I’ve heard of King Augvald,” I said. “The one who worshipped his cow.”
Last night I finished another revision of The Elder King, my latest Erling Skjalgsson novel, and sent it off to my faithful First Readers. I still have no idea when it’ll be released, but we’re that much closer.
This has been a periodic Lars Walker novel writing update. Thank you for your support.
I missed blogging on Friday, because I was caught up in… something. I forget what all. Part of it was working on the novel, though.
Tonight I had an obligation at work, and had to stay late.
But I’ve dropped in to tell you that I finished the first draft of my new Erling book, provisionally titled The Elder King. I had feared that the translation work would interfere with the book, but it was not so in the event. In fact, the discipline I’ve had to summon up to produce paying work on the translation seems to have “translated” into remembering how to work when I don’t have a bilingual project going. Thus, I’ve made steady progress on the book.
Now you recall, if you’ve been reading this blog, my dictum that “First drafts are meant to be dreck. Just write it. Worry about making it good afterward.”
That’s where I am now.
But I’ll say this — as I wrote the climactic scene, I got the old thrill. My heart beat faster. I was in the zone. I remembered that writing could be fun.