Title: Brothers of the Wild North Sea
Author: Harper Fox
Genre: m/m historical romance
Print length: 346 pages
Publication date: June 11, 2013
Rating: Five Stars
Blurb: Caius doesn’t feel like much of a Christian. He loves his life of learning as a monk in the far-flung stronghold of Fara, but the hot warrior blood of his chieftain father flows in his veins. Heat soothed only in the arms of his sweet-natured friend and lover, Leof.
When Leof is killed during a Viking raid, Cai’s grieving heart thirsts for vengeance—and he has his chance with Fenrir, a wounded young Viking warrior left for dead. But instead of reaching for a weapon, Cai finds himself defying his abbot’s orders and using his healing skills to save Fen’s life.
At first, Fen repays Cai’s kindness by attacking every Christian within reach. But as time passes, Cai’s persistent goodness touches his heart. And Cai, who had thought he would never love again, feels the stirring of a profound new attraction.
Yet old loyalties call Fen back to his tribe and a relentless quest to find the ancient secret of Fara—a powerful talisman that could render the Vikings indestructible, and tear the two lovers’ bonds beyond healing.
From any other author, the religious undertone of the story would have made me wary. The idea of priesthood, of devoting one’s life to a single, Christian God is an alien concept to me; one that often makes me feel uneasy. I tend to stay away from novels that delve closely into the subject, whether they be fictional, historical, or any combination of the two. However, no Harper Fox novel I’ve ever come across could be called lighthearted or frivolous. Over the years, I’ve learned to put my faith into every sentence she forms and trust that my faith will be rewarded with more beauty than a simple human being can take.
I can’t say I know much about the time period. I do remember some of my lessons, mainly Synod of Whitby who in 664 left the Celtic Christian Church for the Roman faith. And of course, there’s Saint Cuthbert. Is it too much to hope that I saw some of his fascinating life peeking though in Cai’s story? I suppose I’ll never know. Records of the Viking raids during that time period are few and far between, but they do exist. The rest of the plot, as far as historical accuracy is concerned, is by no means lacking in events that ring true. The action is stark and full of suspense. You can easily imagine yourself sliding on the treacherous sands, smelling the blood and tasting the copper. I had gotten accustomed to the beauty of the worlds this author creates, yet each time I find something new, something that takes me by surprise. In this book it was the images of the waves breaking against the hull of a ship, the moonlight reflected on the steel, the black of blood marring the surface of the sea. Beauty found in an unexpected place and more precious for this fact alone.
Both Cai and Fen are boys in the beginning; if not in body then very much in mind. Each one seems to approach their role in life with a boy’s mindset. The concepts of honor and duty seem prevalent, yet it is clear than neither fully understands the meaning of these words, or what it means to live by them. Together, they shed the unnecessary shackles that bind them. They learn which battles in life are worth fighting and why. They grow in front of your eyes, from page to page, so heartbreaking in their imperfections and failings.
In the end, love is the power that moves and conquers. Not just the love in between Cai and Fen, but the other kind, that so often goes unrecognized. The love which so rarely passes the lips of today’s religions, where all men are brothers in the eyes of God, where the faith in human kind dwells alongside of science and the needs of flesh and bone. Where humanity is not something to be shed in favor of rigid faith and control, but embraced fully. So all men can revel in the wonder of their own flaws and know that they are no less loved, by each other or their creator.
During a dark time in man’s history, Harper Fox has managed to bring about the light. Don’t pass this by; there’s so little beauty in the world that none should be disregarded. Especially not this kind, the kind that spans centuries.
Buy it from Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00BFQM4VG/ref=cm_cr_mts_prod_img
Josh Lanyon recently did an author interview with Harper Fox, where she reveals other delicious things she has planned 🙂