Pre-release Review: Brothers of the Wild North Sea by Harper Fox

Posted: June 10, 2013 by sidlove in 4 Star Reviews, Book Reviews, Free Stuff, Giveaway Contest, Ilhem's Reviews
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Reviewed by Ilhem

TITLE: Brothers of the Wild North Sea
AUTHOR: Harper Fox
PUBLISHER: Samhain Publishing
BLURB: His deadliest enemy will become his heart’s desire.

Caius doesn’t feel like much of a Christian. He loves his life of learning as a monk in the far-flung stronghold of Fara, but the hot warrior blood of his chieftain father flows in his veins. Heat soothed only in the arms of his sweet-natured friend and lover, Leof.

When Leof is killed during a Viking raid, Cai’s grieving heart thirsts for vengeance—and he has his chance with Fenrir, a wounded young Viking warrior left for dead. But instead of reaching for a weapon, Cai finds himself defying his abbot’s orders and using his healing skills to save Fen’s life.

At first, Fen repays Cai’s kindness by attacking every Christian within reach. But as time passes, Cai’s persistent goodness touches his heart. And Cai, who had thought he would never love again, feels the stirring of a profound new attraction.

Yet old loyalties call Fen back to his tribe and a relentless quest to find the ancient secret of Fara—a powerful talisman that could render the Vikings indestructible, and tear the two lovers’ bonds beyond healing.

REVIEW:

Brothers of the Wild North Sea is a love story – I’ll get to it – but it’s first and foremost a piece of time and Earth in a changing world.

We’re in the 7th century, when some of the great civilisations of the Antiquity are not so far behind in time but still burnt to ashes and safeguarded in scholars’ memories.

In Europe, Christianism  is taking root, evangelizing, converting and elaborating doctrines, associating with new kingdoms, building monasteries and a Church where there were only hermits.

We’re in Fara, a piece of land at the northeast of Britannia, a place first conquered by Rome, populated now with its descendants living alongside the Saxons.

It’s a place with dunes, fragrant thyme, seagulls and seals, and terrifying prows on the horizon announcing raids that are as much giving rhythm to the seasons as the changing nature is.

Caius was converted to Christianism and he became a monk to escape his warlord of a father and what he views as a bestial and barbaric inheritance. He’s hungry for light, knowledge and higher ideals.

His mind blossoms under his abbot’s teachings, learning to observe, question and think, becoming a physician, trying not so successfully to come to terms with his new religion and its demand for detachment and enjoying his failures in the matter.

His world topples over when the monastery is not only raided and suffering great losses, but also troubled by a new abbot who stakes his claim on the small community, preaching hellfire, fear and blind obedience.

When the Vikings leave a dying man in their wake, Caius first seeks revenge, then lets the physician in him take precedence. Fenrisulfr has been abandoned by his brothers to die alone on a britannian beach, then is saved by a man who is as much his jailor as his healer.

My main issue in this book is Fen’s character, who is – should be – the most intriguing…. I liked him but he isn’t as fleshed out as Caius. I failed to see him as a dangerous barbarian and people repeated so many times in the story that Fen was and remained untamed that frankly, I grew annoyed with it. If you’re a sucker for ambiguous character like me, you’ll be frustrated with Fen too.

Anyway, as time passes by, two men meet, find solace and companionship; languages are found a common ground, beliefs are explained, desires fullfiled. They forge an alliance to protect a small community at a crossroads, one man intent on protecting his brothers and the neighborly population against obscurantism and sea pirates, the other intent on supporting him.

Brothers of the Wild North Sea is the story of their love, their quest for a secret treasure and their struggle; it’s a story of individual awakening, of guidance through changes under a wolf’s protection.

The prose is poetic and it was a pleasure to bathe in the description and evocation of  earthy sensuality – skins basking in the sun, salty lips and bodies rolling on the sand, fragrances and inviting moon, just as it was captivating to read the rich symbolism weaved in the story telling, in the names and imagery that embraces Vikings, Normans, Celts and Saxons, paganism and christianism, science and religion. It adds amazing layers to this story.

The lyricism and leisurely pace were counterbalanced to a lesser extent by a blunter language, anguish, action,  suspense and even humour but still, I grew impatient sometimes because the violence that is an important part of this story is underdevelopped, because the emotions are a little tamed  and because I’m a greedy masochist.

This was my first read by Harper Fox and even if I wish she didn’t hold her punches, I get that it is her style.  Brothers of the Wild North Sea is a compelling read and  I recommend it for the captivating world it is picturing and its beautiful love story.

Ilhem’s Rating: four-stars_0

BUY LINK: Samhain Store  ||  Book Store

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Comments
  1. Shelley says:

    Fantastic review Ilhem. You’ve created great imagery for this book 🙂

    • Ilhem says:

      Thanks Shelley. I struggled with this review : I wanted to tell how the imagery talked to me but I didn’t want to re tell the story.

  2. Great review. I can’t wait to read this book. I absolutely love Harper Fox’s writing style and this is one of my favorite periods in history to read about.
    *Kindle version

  3. Elin Gregory says:

    This sounds terrific. I dearly love some proper prose as a change from the pared down sparse style that seems to be everywhere now. I’ll definitely be following this one up.

    elingregory @ gmail.com and epub, please, if I should be lucky enough to win it.

  4. I must say your review makes me want to read it even though I could feel your impatience with it, something I often struggle with myself when reading a book I hope to take me in a certain direction.

  5. Toni Whitmire says:

    Did you always wanted to be an Author. And the excerpt was very good.

  6. H.B. says:

    Thank you for the wonderful review. You’ve certainly painted a wonderful interpretation of the book.

    Thanks also for the chance to win a copy.

    humhumbum AT yahoo DOT com (pdf please if I’m lucky enough to win)

  7. Trix says:

    Trix
    vitajex(at)aol(dot)com
    Kindle format
    I’m just about to start Harper’s SCRAP METAL, and this sounds lovely, too!

  8. nishkagray says:

    Ok, I’ve had this pre-ordered for weeks now so no contest for me, but I’ve been a fan of Harper Fox for three years now. Salisbury Key was actually the very first m/m novel I picked up. My only complaint has been that next to her opulent prose, most of the other books in this genre tend to fall flat 😛 Very happy to hear that this one is not lacking in any of the things that drew me in the first place. Thanx for the review 🙂

  9. Andrew
    andrewqgordon@gmail.com
    ePub

    Very cool premise – I love stories from this ‘time’. Hope it’s a rousing hit!

    -AQG

  10. Giselle says:

    Loved the blurb! Please count me in. Thanks!!!

  11. Cinders says:

    Cinders
    crozzy67@nctv.com
    pdf

    WOW sounds so intriquing. Enjoyed the review.
    Thank you

  12. Ilhem says:

    Good luck to you all!

  13. Urbanista says:

    Urbanista
    brendurbanist @gmail. com
    Which ebook format? .MOBI
    Message to the Author: I am a rabid Harper Fox Fan! Sid Love always features my favorite authors–yeah! Thank you!

  14. Gabrielle Jones says:

    Gabrielle Jones

    fallschangingheart@hotmail.com

    Which book format? pdf. please

    Message: I think I’ve only read some of Harper’s free work but I’ve been very happy with what I have read, thanks to Harper for the giveaway and to Sid for keeping me aware of the best giveaways!

    Best of luck with your new book Harper!

  15. DebraG says:

    Debby
    debby236@gmail.com
    pdf
    Love the sound of the book. It is set in a time I do not get to read about often. thanks

  16. Cynthia says:

    Cynthia
    schan26.wisc@gmail.com
    pdf
    Thanks for the giveaway. I would love to read the story. Count me in please.

  17. Am I too late?
    Graeme
    batchelorboy55 (at) gmail (dot) com
    .prc or mobi

  18. Harper Fox says:

    Hello, all, and thanks so much for entering the contest and for your great comments. It was a pleasure to have *Brothers* reviewed and hosted here and I really appreciate it. Great to hear that so many of you enjoy my work and writing style. *Brothers* was a real journey for me, the broadest and most complex subject area I’ve tackled within my M/M genre. LOL, I really do understand how tough it was for Ilhem to review without giving spoilers – you should have seen me trying to choose excerpts without deadly giveaways in them! You’ll hear news of the competition winner soon.

    Very best

    Harper

  19. elizabetta says:

    Lovely review Ilhem! I love this author’s stuff 🙂 Adding this one too…

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