Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT Icelandic #Histfic #Mystery STORYTELLERS by @bjornlarssen #TuesdayBookBlog

Today’s team review is from Alison, she blogs here https://alisonwilliamswriting.wordpress.com/

#RBRT Review Team

Alison has been reading Storytellers by Bjørn Larssen

Storytellers

An evocative setting, a cast of unusual and intriguing characters, a story within a story, and a dog. What more could you want?

This is an impressive debut novel from an author who really knows how to tell a story. We meet Gunnar, a blacksmith,  when he allows an injured climber, Sigurd,  to recover and recuperate in his home. While the climber’s ankle heals, the long dark nights are filled with a story, told by Sigurd, of a young couple and their life in a remote village in Iceland. The characters in this secondary story are as real and as vibrant as those in Gunnar’s story, and you find yourself, along with Gunnar, waiting impatiently for the next instalment.

Gunnar’s own story intertwines both with the fireside tale and the revelation of who Sigurd is and what he wants. This is a sometimes bleak, always honest portrayal of an isolated life, of the cost of keeping secrets, but it isn’t a depressing read. And there are moments of real humour too. As with all good storytelling, the story runs deep.

It was a little slow to get going, and did feel a little drawn out at times, but Bjorn Larssen is definitely a writer to look out for.

Definitely recommended

Four and a half stars.

Book description

In March 1920 Icelandic days are short and cold, but the nights are long. For most, on those nights, funny, sad, and dramatic stories are told around the fire. But there is nothing dramatic about Gunnar, a hermit blacksmith who barely manages to make ends meet. He knows nobody will remember his existence – they already don’t. All he wants is peace, the company of his animals, and a steady supply of his medication. Sometimes he wonders what it would feel like to have a story of his own. He’s about to find out.

Sigurd – a man with a plan, a broken ankle, and shocking amounts of money – won’t talk about himself, but is happy to tell a story that just might get Gunnar killed. The blacksmith’s other “friends” are just as eager to write him into stories of their own – from Brynhildur who wants to fix Gunnar, then marry him, his doctor who is on the precipice of calling for an intervention, The Conservative Women of Iceland who want to rehabilitate Gunnar’s “heathen ways” – even that wicked elf has plans for the blacksmith.

As his defenses begin to crumble, Gunnar decides that perhaps his life is due for a change – on his own terms. But can he avoid the endings others have in mind for him, and forge his own?

The author is an ex-blacksmith, lover of all things Icelandic, physically located in Amsterdam, mentally living in a log cabin near Akureyri. He has published stories and essays in Polish and American magazines, both online and in print. This is his first novel.

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Storytellers

Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT Icelandic #Histfic #Mystery STORYTELLERS by @bjornlarssen #TuesdayBookBlog

Today’s team review is from Terry, she blogs here https://terrytylerbookreviews.blogspot.co.uk/

#RBRT Review Team

Terry has been reading Storytellers by Bjørn Larssen

44153250

5 out of 5 stars

I loved this book – it was a delight to read, an unusual debut novel by a writer with much talent.

The story tells of village blacksmith Gunnar, who is (at first glance) quite happy living in his shack with his dog, Ragnar, and his ‘medicine’ (alcohol).  One night, he takes in a climber with a broken ankle, Sigurd; with reluctance, Gunnar agrees to take care of him until he can walk again.  From the outset, it is clear that there is much mystery surrounding the stranger.

Meanwhile, Gunnar’s life is picked apart by his doctor, the overbearing Brynhildur who wants to marry him, and the Conservative Women of Iceland who demand that he mend his heathen ways.  I loved these women – the Conservative Women number just two; they and Brynhildur were a joy to read.  The gossip and atmosphere of small village life reminded me of a Jane Austen novel, subtly and amusingly executed as it is.

This is actually a story within a story – the Icelandic winters are long and dark, and storytelling is a much loved pastime.  Threaded through Gunnar’s own tale is a another, told to him in instalments by Sigurd, about love, death and a feud between brothers.  Both stories are so compelling.

As we learn more about Gunnar, we discover the demons that lurk within, that he tries to banish with the moonshine that he makes in his shack.

The atmosphere of the place and time is perfectly drawn, the characterisation is excellent, the dialogue authentic and amusing.  The ending is surprising, as the link between the stories is uncovered.  In these days when so many novels are jam-packed with events from start to finish, I enjoyed the slower pace of Storytellers; it has such charm that I still found it to be a ‘page-turner’, was reluctant to leave it when I had to, and sad to finish it.

The quality of the writing and storytelling is most definitely worthy of 5*.  I was, at first, going to knock off half a star because of some editorial errors that may not concern many readers – a few Americanisms, the odd word used incorrectly, and phrases/words too modern for the time.  However, English is not the author’s first language, and his command of its subtleties is, on the whole, outstanding, so I don’t want to penalise him for that which should have been picked up by editors and proofreaders, and which I believe will be remedied soon.

This a work of literary art that I recommend most highly; Bjørn Larssen is, indeed, an Icelandic storyteller.

Book description

In March 1920 Icelandic days are short and cold, but the nights are long. For most, on those nights, funny, sad, and dramatic stories are told around the fire. But there is nothing dramatic about Gunnar, a hermit blacksmith who barely manages to make ends meet. He knows nobody will remember his existence – they already don’t. All he wants is peace, the company of his animals, and a steady supply of his medication. Sometimes he wonders what it would feel like to have a story of his own. He’s about to find out.

Sigurd – a man with a plan, a broken ankle, and shocking amounts of money – won’t talk about himself, but is happy to tell a story that just might get Gunnar killed. The blacksmith’s other “friends” are just as eager to write him into stories of their own – from Brynhildur who wants to fix Gunnar, then marry him, his doctor who is on the precipice of calling for an intervention, The Conservative Women of Iceland who want to rehabilitate Gunnar’s “heathen ways” – even that wicked elf has plans for the blacksmith.

As his defenses begin to crumble, Gunnar decides that perhaps his life is due for a change – on his own terms. But can he avoid the endings others have in mind for him, and forge his own?

The author is an ex-blacksmith, lover of all things Icelandic, physically located in Amsterdam, mentally living in a log cabin near Akureyri. He has published stories and essays in Polish and American magazines, both online and in print. This is his first novel.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

44153250

 

 

#NewRelease Rosie’s #Bookreview of #Histfic Icelandic Saga STORYTELLERS by Bjørn Larssen @bjornlarssen

StorytellersStorytellers by Bjørn Larssen

4 stars

Storytellers is historical fiction written in the style of an Icelandic saga.

The book opens in 1920 with Gunnar, a blacksmith who rescues an injured climber. He takes the man to his home. Gunnar has lived alone for several years; his house is basic and his lifestyle simplistic.

The climber, known as Sigurd, persuades Gunnar to keep his presence a secret from the villagers. He pays Gunnar a large amount of money to let him stay while his ankle mends. It’s March and Spring is yet to show; during the long evenings Sigurd entertains Gunnar with a story. It’s about a young couple: Arnar and Juana, and their life together in a small Icelandic village.

The story alternates between the two threads at a slow pace. We learn of Gunnar’s lonely life. He lives with his dog, horse and his illegally brewed alcohol. He prefers his own company, often desperate to lose himself in the darkness of drink. He does, however, enjoy Sigurd’s story, often urging him to continue with the next instalment.

This is a dark tale. I thought that the author used his own experience as a blacksmith to good effect as I could easily picture the parts that took place in the forge, while the pace reflected the era in which the book was set. When the story reached its denouement it was worth the wait.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

In March 1920 Icelandic days are short and cold, but the nights are long. For most, on those nights, funny, sad, and dramatic stories are told around the fire. But there is nothing dramatic about Gunnar, a hermit blacksmith who barely manages to make ends meet. He knows nobody will remember his existence – they already don’t. All he wants is peace, the company of his animals, and a steady supply of his medication. Sometimes he wonders what it would feel like to have a story of his own. He’s about to find out.

Sigurd – a man with a plan, a broken ankle, and shocking amounts of money – won’t talk about himself, but is happy to tell a story that just might get Gunnar killed. The blacksmith’s other “friends” are just as eager to write him into stories of their own – from Brynhildur who wants to fix Gunnar, then marry him, his doctor who is on the precipice of calling for an intervention, The Conservative Women of Iceland who want to rehabilitate Gunnar’s “heathen ways” – even that wicked elf has plans for the blacksmith.

As his defenses begin to crumble, Gunnar decides that perhaps his life is due for a change – on his own terms. But can he avoid the endings others have in mind for him, and forge his own?

The author is an ex-blacksmith, lover of all things Icelandic, physically located in Amsterdam, mentally living in a log cabin near Akureyri. He has published stories and essays in Polish and American magazines, both online and in print. This is his first novel.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

44153250

#NewRelease #HistFic set in #Iceland #My #Bookreview of Smile Of The Wolf by @TimLeachWriter @HoZ_Books

Smile of the WolfSmile of the Wolf by Tim Leach

4 stars

Smile Of The Wolf is historical fiction set in eleventh century Iceland written in the style of a story handed down through the generations, told as a winter past-time.

This is the tale of two men: Kjaran a poet, singer or skald, who sings in exchange for food and shelter, and Gunnar, an ex-warrior, now a father and farmer. One night the pair set out to hunt a ghost. Instead, they kill a man. Under Icelandic law they should pay the man’s family a blood-price, but instead they try to hide the murder.

Gunnar’s guilt gnaws away at him and the pair are exposed at the annual Althing gathering. Kjaran takes the blame for the murder and is made an outlaw for three years. Now he can be legally hunted down by the victim’s family to avenge the man’s death. He took the blame in an attempt to keep Gunnar and his family safe, but three years is a long time to be on the run.

This is a tale of cold and darkness in a desolate setting. The laws of the land revolve around honour and feuds. With their Viking backgrounds, the inhabitants fled old homelands in search of a new start. They wanted to leave behind Norway and a king who drove them from their homes. They hoped for a land where every man was equal. But keeping the peace amongst men who come from warring backgrounds is hard and blood-feuds are accepted practices. The problem is, where do they end?

I would describe this as slow-paced, reflecting the story-telling style. It is also quite cold and harsh with just the odd hint of warmth and hope, rather like the landscape of the wintry isle. A book which made me yearn for a soft blanket, a roaring fire and a cup of hot-chocolate to chase away my chilly feelings.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Book description

Eleventh-century Iceland. One night in the darkness of winter, two friends set out on an adventure but end up killing a man. Kjaran, a traveling poet who trades songs for food and shelter, and Gunnar, a feared warrior, must make a choice: conceal the deed or confess to the crime and pay the blood price to the family. But their decision leads to a brutal feud: one man is outlawed, free to be killed by anyone without consequence; the other remorselessly hunted by the dead man’s kin. Set in a world of ice and snow, this is an epic story of exile and revenge, of duels and betrayals, and two friends struggling to survive in a desolate landscape, where honor is the only code that men abide by.

About the author

Writer, climber, whisky drinker, chess dabbler and general purpose layabout. London exile currently encamped in the North and loving it. I’ve studied and taught creative writing at the University of Warwick and worked in bookshops in London and Greece.

If you’d like to know any more about me or my books, just ping me a message. Thanks for stopping by!

Tim Leach

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