Author(s): Linnea Hartsuyker
Since the death of Ragnvald's father in battle, he has worked hard to protect his sister Svanhild and planned to inherit his family's land when he comes of age. But when the captain of his ship tries to kill Ragnvald on the way home from a raiding excursion, he must confront his stepfather's betrayal, and find a way to protect his birthright. It is no easy feat in Viking-Age Norway, where a hundred petty rulers kill over parcels of land, and a prophesied high king is rising. But where Ragnvald is expected to bleed, and even die, for his honour, Svanhild is simply expected to marry well. It's not a fate she relishes, and when the chance to leave her stepfather's cruelty comes at the hand of her brother's arch-rival, Svanhild is forced to make the ultimate choice: family or freedom. Drawing from the Icelandic Sagas, The Half-Drowned King tells the true story of Ragnvald of Maer, the right hand man of King Harald Fairhair, first king of all Norway, and his sister, Svanhild, as she tries to find freedom in a society where the higher her brother rises, the greater her worth as a political pawn.
Lovers of epic rejoice! Hartsuyker illuminates these old stories with authority and visceral detail, bringing to life the adventure, bleak beauty and human struggle that lies at their heart. A vivid and gripping read Madeline Miller, author of the Orange Prize 2012 winner The Song of Achilles Linnea Hartsuyker brings myth and legend roaring to life in this superbly good page-turning saga of Viking-era Norway. Hartsuyker is fearless as she navigates a harsh, exacting and hair-raising world, with icy fjords and raiding seasons and ancient blood feuds. But the book's fiercest magic shines in the characters of Ragnvald and Svanhild, as unforgettable a brother and sister duo as I can remember in recent literature. Linnea Hartsuyker is an exciting, original voice in historical fiction, and The Half-Drowned King is nothing short of mesmerizing Paula McLain A terrific historical epic...Posing thoughtful questions about the nature of honor and heroism, and devoting significant attention to women's lives, the novel takes a fresh approach to the Viking adventure genre. The multifaceted characters are believable products of their era yet relatable to modern readers; the rugged beauty of Norway's farmlands and coastal landscapes likewise comes alive. The language is clear and eloquent, and the action scenes will have the blood humming in your veins. This is how tales from the old sagas should be told Starred review, Booklist Making her fiction debut, Hartsuyker, who claims descent from Norway's first king, writes an absolutely top-notch Viking saga, and readers will eagerly await the next two volumes Starred review, Library Journal
Linnea Hartsuyker is a graduate of NYU's Fiction MFA program and Cornell University's Engineering school, and has been researching the rise and reign of Harald Fairhair since she first discovered she was descended from him at the age of seventeen, when her family traced its ancestry back through 1200 years of Swedish and Norwegian church records. Since then she has read extensively of Icelandic sagas, kayaked and skied the fjordland settings for this novel, and even become proficient in lifting Husafjell stones, as the Vikings did to become stronger.