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All Eyvind has ever wanted is to become one of the greatest Viking warriors - a Wolfskin. His friend Somerled, with whom he has sworn a blood oath of lifelong loyalty, secretly desires a very different path.
A world away, Nessa, niece of King Engus of the Folk, is learning the ways of the mysteries. Her people live in peace and harmony, until a voyage of discovery, led by Somerled's much respected brother, Ulf, brings a group of settlers to Nessa's homeland. Though their arrival is friendly, Nessa feels a shadow has been cast over the Folk ...book cover
Wolfskin is a powerful historical fantasy of epic proportions set against a backdrop of the Viking world and the colonisation of the Scottish islands of Orkney. The combination of history, folklore, & imagination is utterly captivating.
Wolfskin follows the destinies of three central characters - the Viking warrior Eyvind, would-be king Somerled and Priestess Nessa. Eyvind has grown up with the dream of becoming a Wolkskin warrior of Thor, like his brother. He is set the task of befriending the strange boy Somerled and although Eyvind often fears Somerled's cruel and unpredictable nature, circumstances draw the boys together in friendship and they eventually swear their lifelong brotherhood with a blood bond. Their journey to the Light Isles reveals long denied truths and sets the scene for a page-turning read.
Eyvind and Nessa are wonderfully drawn characters, sensitively portrayed & I fell in love with both of them. The love story between the two is a relatively slow dance but beautiful just the same. Somerled is the character you love to hate, although his portrayal is also done in such a way that it is possible to see his vulnerability.
Marillier's connection to the natural world is a beautiful one, nothing is contrived or exaggerated. The imagery is so vivid I felt like I'd been transported to the Light Isles & immersed in the character and very soul of these islands.
Was not this a realm of endless, freezing darkness, visited by hellish winds, pounded by nightmare seas, a stark, empty place where scarcely a tree dared lift its branches from the earth to soften the bleak landscape?
Then spring would come ...
Here the sky held more colours than there were blades of grass on the hillsides; here the sea was endlessly changing, moody, bountiful, capricious, a shawl of mystery wrapping these fair islands with its fluid touch. Each stone bore its own story, each shell its own pattern, each flower its enchantment. page 178
This is definitely a tale of contrasts, blossoming love & brutal battle scenes alternately bleak then mesmerising. Wolfskin examines the value in loyalty, the pain of betrayal, and the strength required to do what is right at the expense of love. I'm looking forward to continuing the story with Foxmask