“Blood Eye” by Giles Kristian (giveaway included)

“Blood Eye” is the first novel in the Raven series by Giles Kristian.  When I was approached by TLC Book Tours to review a historical fiction novel about Vikings, I immediately got excited, because I had reviewed A. S. Byatt’s Ragnarok: The End of the Gods earlier this year and had been wanting to learn more about Norse culture ever since.

A brief word of forewarning… there are scenes of blood, gore, and torture in this book.  For the love of God (or Odin), don’t read it during lunchtime!  You will lose your appetite.

“Blood Eye” opens in Valhalla as Osric begins to tell the story of his life to the gods.  He doesn’t know his family.  He had been abandoned and left for dead, but Ealhstan, the kind mute village carpenter, took him in as his assistant.  The superstitious villagers alienated Osric because he has a red eye, but still his life is relatively peaceful.  One day, Norse raiders come and attack the village.  Osric realizes that he understands their language, and the raiders decide to take him with them as they continue their journey because of his value as an interpreter.  Sigurd, their leader, believes that Osric’s blood eye is a sign of Odin’s favor, and gives him a new name worthy of a warrior:  Raven.

“Blood Eye” is at its very heart a historical adventure novel.  The book follows the typical fantasy plotline of a hero embarking on a quest (in this case, stealing a valuable manuscript) and saving the damsel in distress, the princess Cynethryth (try saying that three times quickly).  Cynethryth is a relatively strong character in her own right, taking initiative and defying her father’s wishes when she feels that the Norse Fellowship is being treated unfairly.  Although it’s part of a series, the story arc is self-contained.  I approve of the ending; it leaves the promise of more action, but there isn’t a major cliffhanger.

One of the things that I loved about this book is the way that Giles Kristian weaves Norse mythology into the plot.  The Norse gods are gods of war, and so they are seen as ever-present forces any time that the Fellowship engages in battle.  This is a Viking novel, so there’s battle pretty much all the time.

While I love the depiction of the Norse religion, I felt that the author’s criticism of Christianity was unnecessarily harsh.  Not all of the priests have to be villainous, and it would have created a far more complex picture of society.  I’d have liked to see one or two Christians in the book who actually believed in the religion that they preached and were a bit more tolerant of others.  One of the central themes here seems to be how the priests can sanction atrocities of war when they claim to worship a god of peace, whereas at least the Norse are honest about what they’re doing.

I’d recommend this one to anyone interested in learning more about Norse life.  “Blood Eye” is well-written and fast-paced, packed with historical detail and bloody battles.

The publishers agreed to let me host a giveaway of the novel, which is open to readers in the US and Canada.  To enter, just leave a comment.  The giveaway will be open for a week, and I’ll pull names out of a hat on Tuesday, October 2.  Good luck!

Categories: Fiction, Historical Fiction | Tags: , , , , , , | 29 Comments

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29 thoughts on ““Blood Eye” by Giles Kristian (giveaway included)

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  5. I’m glad you enjoyed this one – it is definitely my kind of book!

    Thanks for being on the tour.

  6. Pingback: Giles Kristian, author of Blood Eye: Raven, Book 1, on tour | TLC Book Tours

  7. Eric Northman . . . sorry, drifted off into a Viking-related dream there! 😀

  8. I have nominated you for the A Lovely Blog award! Check out my blog for the rules 😉

    Also, this book is now laying on my nightstand. As a Norwegian, I have always loved reading about Vikings. Throw a little fantasy and Norse Gods into the mix, and it sounds like my cup of tea. Or drinking horn of mead… 😉


    • Oooh, thank you!

      I hope you enjoy the book! I don’t see nearly enough books about Vikings, so I was glad to come across this one. 🙂

  9. Mmmm, Vikings and Norse mythology – where do I sign! Sounds great. Thanks for the review. I’ll take a look for this.
    Lynn 😀

    • You’re welcome! I’m hoping to find more books about Vikings/Norse mythology at some point, because it’s such a fascinating subject!

  10. Grace, reading all that gore and getting through it, you’d make a great OR nurse or surgeon! Tina, my wife, who IS an OR nurse, watched The Game of Thrones on Showtime and got through the battle scenes unscathed.

    Me? I would have had nightmares, which is why I did not watch it and why military service and I are not friends. (I’ve written about battle though. Wasn’t fun.)

    I suspect that women generally have a higher tolerance to feeling and watching physical pain than men. It may be part of that biological birthing babies thing. How are you in a dentist chair?


    • Oddly enough, normally I don’t do terribly well with gore (and even worse with dentists, which is weird considering that I’ve never had a cavity). I’ve got a much higher tolerance for reading about violence than actually seeing it. I loved Game of Thrones though, because it’s one of the few book-to-film adaptations that I’ve seen that remained extremely faithful to the book. 🙂

  11. Skunked again! I watched parts of a documentary on Vikings last night and this book sounds awesome. I may have to move back to the States so I can enter your awesome giveaways.

  12. Trust me the series gets better and better 🙂 and when you have devoured all GK will give you of Raven check out Robert Low and the oathsworn 🙂

  13. Hey Grace! Blood Eye sounds great because I love Norse mythology. And there isn’t really a whole lot of historical fiction based around it. Fantasy tends to steal shamelessly from it, but I haven’t really encountered a lot of historical fiction about it. Blood and guts don’t really bother me all that much, so it sounds like a great read.

    • Mhm. I’ve encountered much the same thing. Aside from Ragnarok, the last thing I read that involved Vikings or actual Norse mythology was one of Mary Pope Osborne’s Magic Tree House books back when my sister was little… so fifteenish years ago, and I don’t think that counts.

      • That’s how I was first exposed to it! But that was many years ago. I encountered a bit in Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, but he included a lot of cultures in that. ‘The Sea of Trolls’ by Nancy Farmer is YA, but it’s excellent and sticks to Norse mythology. It’s violent for a YA novel, but it captures the ‘Viking’ essence.

  14. Sounds good and bloodthirsty!

  15. Hey Grace, lovely review as always. It looks lije nice read and I love all the nordic mythology. Did you finish Miss Peregrine’s yet? Im almost done with it.

    • Thank you! I did finish Miss Peregrine’s, I’m just very behind on reviewing this month. I’m hoping to catch up on writing reviews soon. 🙂

  16. Definitely a fan of Norse mythology, especially imbued into fiction! Then again, I have a cat named after Baldur, so…

    The book sounds pretty good, too! I’m sure it’ll make good, um, research for my own Norse sci fi project… *coughcough*

  17. This sounds incredibly awesome! I love historical fiction and Viking/Norse mythology is right up there ancient Roman, Greek, and Egyptian fictions for me. The fact that there is blood, brutality, and battle means that the author was reflecting some reality of the time. Reading books like this makes me appreciate how easy we have it here.

    • Some days I’m incredibly glad to live in the 21st Century! I was surprised by the amount of blood/brutality; I think our modern world is much tamer.

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