“Kept me guessing to the end and I couldn't put it down. Fascinating, full of adventure and well written. A clear presentation of the Biblical kinsman redeemer.”
“The story held my interest, and I found myself caring about the characters, anxious to see how it all turns out for them. I was impressed at how seamlessly the author wove into this adventure story the biblical meaning of a kinsman redeemer. The Christian faith of some in the book came across as natural and plausible, and the Vikings' beliefs were well contrasted. All around, a very good book and one I would recommend to anyone. I'm giving this book five stars because although I very much dislike first person narratives as a general rule, this book actually overcame that bias and was thoroughly enjoyable.”
“Really loved this book. I like history a lot so it was fun to imagine the story in the midst of the real story.”
The sun set for Antiquity, and twilight loomed over the Roman Empire. Its western half has fallen to the nomadic hordes—the Vandals having sacked the city of Rome itself on 455 AD. The center of the civilized world shifted to the east, where the Greek-speaking Romans (Byzantines) continued to rule the empire in their capital of Constantinople (now modern-day Istanbul). The city stood stalwart between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean—between Asia and Europe. Yet despite their steadfastness, they were still surrounded by enemies, especially the emerging Islamic Caliphates from Arabia. It seemed like it was inevitable for the empire’s demise. And truly so, because when the Roman-Byzantine Empire became weak due to its continuous conflicts with the Persian-Sassanid Empire, the Arabs waged war on both of them, annihilating the latter in 651 AD and turning around to finish the former. In 672 AD, they dispatched three great fleets to besiege Constantinople, raiding the coasts en route and harrying the imperial capital itself. The nights seemed dark for the empire. Possibly by providence and during a pivotal moment of the war in that same year, a Byzantine architect and refugee, Kallinikos, invented a weapon for the empire. It was a weapon that spewed fire—a fire that burned on water. It was Greek fire. Wielding this weapon, the Byzantine navy launched a counteroffensive and repelled the Arabs in 680 AD, ending their seven-year campaign. Three decades later, the Arabs, under a new Caliph, took a gamble and tried again to take Constantinople, bearing the full force of their military strength. This second siege was more dangerous than the first, but the Romans still prevailed after using Greek fire; the Arabs defeated, never again attacking. The sun shone once more on the empire for seven further centuries. Greek fire fueled its glory.
England’s history is rife with conflict, especially during the Viking Age. In that era, hairy and scary foreign men raided and raped. Bearded berserkers, while wielding axes to cleave and spears to thrust, ransacked towns then rowed away on their loot-filled longboats before the local lords could mount a defense. Indeed, any army they dispatched arrived too late. It’s no wonder that the English nobles chose to pay off the Vikings instead—a tribute called Danegeld. Danegeld (Danish tax, or Dane tribute) was a levy gathered from the kingdom and offered to the Vikings to dissuade them from attacking. The Vikings at that time came from Denmark, hence the term. England initially paid this tribute in 991 with the amount of £10,000. For a time, the Vikings stopped their raiding. But when they realized that this was an easy way of getting gold, they came back to wreak havoc and slaughter Englishmen until they were again appeased with Danegeld. This cycle repeated for years with the tribute increasing in amount each time. The Vikings’ bullying buried seeds of hate in the Englishmen’s hearts, leading them to massacre the Danes on St. Brice’s Day.
It is wrong to put temptation in the path of any nation,
For fear they should succumb and go astray;
So when you are requested to pay up or be molested,
You will find it better policy to say,
“We never pay any-one Dane-geld,
No matter how trifling the cost;
For the end of that game is oppression and shame,
And the nation that pays it is lost!” (“Dane-Geld,” Poetryloverspage.com)References Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark.” Act 3, scene 1. Accessed October 7, 2016. http://shakespeare.mit.edu/hamlet/hamlet.3.1.html. Poetry Lovers’ Page. “Dane-Geld.” Accessed October 7, 2016. http://www.poetryloverspage.com/poets/kipling/dane_geld.html.