Review: The Last Berserker (Fireborn #1) by Angus Donald

MY ⭐️ RATING: 4.75/5

Format: Kindle Whispersync

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BOOK DESCRIPTION

The greatest warriors are forged
in the flames


Two pagan fighters
771AD, Northern Europe. Bjarki Bloodhand and Tor Hildarsdottir are journeying south into Saxony. Their destination is the Irminsul, the One Tree that links the Nine Worlds of the Middle-Realm. In this most holy place, they hope to learn how to summon their animal spirits so they can enter the ranks of the legendary berserkir: the elite frenzied fighters of the North.

One Christian king
Karolus, newly crowned King of the Franks, has a thorn in his side: the warlike Saxon tribes on his northern borders who shun the teachings of the Church, blasphemously continuing to worship their pagan gods.

An epic battle for the soul of the North
The West's greatest warlord vows to stamp out his neighbours' superstitions and bring the light of the True Faith to the Northmen - at the point of a sword. It will fall to Barki, Tor and the men and women of Saxony to resist him in a struggle for the fate of all Europe.

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MY REVIEW

As a historical fiction lover, I was very excited to jump into this Viking story that takes place in late 8th century Northern Europe. If you’re a fan of Bernard Cornwell’s Last Kingdom series, the show or The Vikings show, then this is going to ring those same bells. I found myself easily immersed in this bloody brilliant, fast-paced, action-packed adventure with plenty of brutality and mayhem that’ll keep your interest going the entire time.

“We swear oaths to our kings and jarls, we promise to serve them faithfully. We swear to our wives, to our friends. To the people we trade with. A man’s word is sacred. If a man is a known oath-breaker, all shun him. He is no true man; he is a mere nithing.”

One of the reasons I love historical fiction so much is that it’s steeped in, well… history, and I love history. At the end of the story there is a short historical note from the author where he goes into some details of how his story came to be. He put in a lot of work to create this, and it shows in his story. The idea of them having to find their “gandr” to become a Rekkr (Berserker) and having a semi-telepathic link to their spirit animal was pretty cool concept as it gave an almost fantastical feel to it.

Bjarki and Tor are great warriors with a lot of flaws that you can’t help but cheer for, the moment you meet them. As much as I loved Bjarki, who is a mountain of a man who’s best trait is his honour, is also his biggest crutch as it leaves him to be naive as well. I liked Tor more and found her character much more interesting. Her personality was a lot more fun in a way, and of course she is just a bad woman, and all I kept picturing was Lagertha from the Vikings tv show. Angus does not relent on their journey, his story telling is phenomenal and is based around a battle of faiths, the one true God of the Christians and the pagan gods of the Danes. It is dark, as I’ve stated before it is gory and brutal, it’s definitely not for the faint of heart. It’s filled with vivid fights and battles that are gory in a way that you would expect from a time such as this, and he did not hold back on the savage details.

“They all seemed to move slowly, when he was so nimble. He sliced the seax through windpipes, slammed it into eyes, and plunged the slick blade into armpits, chests, thighs. His deep four-note hum became a chuckle, then a laugh; before long he was cackling with glee and he danced and cut and hacked”

Ade Dimberline did a fantastic job with his narration and definitely helped me immerse myself into the world even more than just the story telling by Angus. The one thing that I couldn’t help but shake the entire time though, was the deep gruff voice of Bjarki. This isn’t meant to be negative, I just couldn’t get it out of my head, but Bjarki sounded a lot like someone trying to make a Batman voice. When you hear it, you’ll agree. Again, not a knock, just what it sounded like to me.

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