‘The Half-Drowned King’ Book Review

Since the death of his father, Ragnvald has always assumed and worked to inherit the land that belonged to his father. Protecting his sister, Svanhild, and seeing that the farm is taken care of. That is all changed when he goes on a raiding trip to Ireland. On the way back, Solvi, one of the men of the ship is hired by Ragnvald’s stepfather, Olaf, to kill Ragnvald so he can be the one to inherit the farm. However, Ragnvald is rescued by a fisherman of the coast of Norway. From there he goes on an epic journey of revenge with the help of King Harald to get back what is truly his.

The characters had no development or depth throughout the length of the novel. The focus was put elsewhere in this story, and I will discuss that in a later paragraph. It appears Ragnvald would be our focus in the story but no, this is a multiple perspective historical fiction work. It would be better if there was just one point of view, with that being Ragnvald, so that his character could be more developed. Svanhild was wishy washy, and I never got to truly know what kind of person she was but maybe that was the intention of the author. Solvi, in a way, I feel is the most developed character even though he is our villain. There is a lot to unpack with him. However, the side characters were interchangeable for me and did not really matter in the long-term view of the story. I would have enjoyed this story more if the characters had been developed and not one dimensional.

The author’s focus for ‘The Half-Drowned King’ was on the atmosphere. The setting and culture of this story was so rich. You can tell that Linnea Hartsuyker spent time researching Norse culture before writing this book. I do think that the setting did overpower the other points of the story. Too much time was focused on the atmosphere that the other key factors of storytelling were not able to shine. I do applaud, Hartsuyker for the dedication and research that went into this story.

There was no real consistency to these chapters. There was no order for the point of views and no real set page length that a chapter could be. The story was dense and just dragged on. It could have been one hundred to two hundred pages shorter than it was.

By the description on the back of the book, this novel ticks off multiple boxes for me. It’s a story of a man coming back from a near death experience then going on a tract to avenge his himself and his family. It sounds like a great story. It was just not executed properly on page. It sounds so epic and great, but I found myself bored as I turned from one page to the next. I was often finding myself skimming through the paragraphs or having to constantly reread them to have an idea of what was going on throughout the story. There was a lot happening, but it felt like nothing was happening at all, maybe it is because I felt no connection to the characters.

The characters had no development or depth throughout the length of the novel. The setting and culture of this story was so rich. The story was dense and just dragged on. It sounds so epic and great, but I found myself bored as I turned from one page to the next. I am disappointed in my first historical fiction read of the year. I will not be continuing with this trilogy.

3 out of 5 stars.

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