One of the most popular pieces of historical fiction of recent times is Bernard Cornwell's The Last Kingdom series. 

These novels, adapted for the small screen by the BBC and later taken over by Netflix, chronicle the adventures of a young Saxon noble who navigates Danelaw England. 

Aside from Cornwell's thrilling narrative, part of the appeal is that we peer into both Anglo-Saxon and Viking societies, which lived cheek-by-jowl in the British Isles. 

Those wanting another outsider's perspective of the minute details, quirks, and everyday life of Viking society should look no further than Peter Gibbons's novel, Viking Blood and Blade

Published in 2021, it proved so popular that Gibbons has written another seven books that tie into this series

The first details the adventures and exploits of Hundr, a young boy captured by a crew of Vikings as they set sail for England. A stranger in a strange world, he must navigate the brutal world of early medieval Europe's least favorite warriors. 

"Viking Blood and Blade" plunges readers into the heart of the Viking Age, where loyalty, courage, and betrayal shape the destiny of a young boy named Hundr. Illustration: The Viking Herald

Compelling narrative 

When reading Viking Blood and Blade, it should be blatantly obvious why Gibbons' work has proved so popular. He is a master of blending historical fiction with action-packed adventure, proving insatiable for fans the world over, especially those here at The Viking Herald

Vivid depictions of everyday Viking life are masterfully told, from the brutish, bloody, and frantic nature of battle to the dangers of sailing the open seas in what was the most advanced naval technology of its day. 

Gibbons does all this to create such an immersive experience for the reader that they'll be pinching themselves, checking they're not back in the 9th century! 

All great novels require character-led conflict. However, despite the numerous gory battle scenes, Hundr's inner turmoil is most interesting as he tries to forge an identity within the complex and rigid hierarchy of Viking society. 

His journey of self-discovery sees him transform from a timid captive into a hardened and cynical Viking, grappling with moral nuances. 

This transformation is as much due to his cunning and wits as it is to his physical prowess, which first secures his place as an oarsman alongside hardened Vikings and then impresses on the battlefield.

The pace of the narrative, however, is frantic and sadly leaves little time for further exploration of Hundr's inner turmoil and moral complexities.

The supporting cast is admirable; Gibbons adds much color with his depictions of semi-historical figures like Ivar the Boneless, a famed Viking warrior (and son of a famed Viking warrior). 

Of course, a Viking book wouldn't be a Viking book without the appearance of a shield maiden or two. The appearance of female warriors only adds to the book's appeal, as it is refreshing to see them fight hand-to-hand with the men. 

Gibbons writes in detail about the camaraderie of a Viking crew, detailing the daily activities onboard, the strict and rigid hierarchy that kept the Vikings in check, and the adrenaline-inducing thrills of a raid, all described with aplomb. 

He uses these details to try to understand the motivations of men who risk life and limb together as a band of brothers, waging war and sharing spoils until death do them part.

A knock on the door awaits... 

Whilst it may not have reached the fame and heights of The Last Kingdom series, there is no doubt that Netflix or Amazon will be knocking on Mr. Gibbons's door wanting to produce a Viking Blood and Blade series soon enough. 

It is a romping read that is thoroughly enjoyable and shows an author who is a masterful craftsman of the written word. 

Not often does an author's debut novel go on to spawn an entire series with seven sequels. For that, Peter Gibbons should be applauded and should keep an ear open for a knock on his front door. 

Viking Blood and Blade by Peter Gibbons is available for purchase on Amazon here.

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