Axe of Iron: The Settlers
by J.A. Hunsinger
Paperback: 356 pages
Publisher: Vinland Publishing Llc (August 1, 2008)
Rating (1 to 5 stars): *****
A thousand years ago, North America was still wild and largely unexplored. Nearly 500 years before Columbus sailed the ocean blue, Lief Ericson discovered North America, followed by other Northmen who tried to make a go of it in the new land with varying degrees of success. Records of this time are scarce, but historians have pieced together some of the events that transpired.
J.A. Hunsinger is one such historian. In Axe of Iron: The Settlers, he begins the saga of a group of Northmen who strike out from Greenland in search of a new home in the west. It is a fictional tale based on what we know of the era and what life was like at the time.
The settlers are led by Halfdan, an able and fierce captain, and he is aided by his good friend and lieutenant, Gudbjartur. While the story centers on them, it wanders from character to character, giving the reader a panoramic view of the party while at the same time allowing you to get to know the characters intimately. The party had been preceded to the new land, referred to as Vinland, by other Northmen, but none had succeeded in maintaining their settlements due to problems with the natives. Halfdan is determined to do things differently.
Life during this period was harsh and wild, with a different form of civility than we know now. Hunsinger shows this cruel reality vividly, drawing the reader in with brilliant descriptions and plenty of action. It becomes at times very graphic, both violently and sexually, but all of the scenes weave together to form a tapestry that is the perfect depiction of the story and people. The book includes helpful resources for getting the most out of the story, including a pronunciation guide, glossary, and brief history lesson.
Although I do not normally reach for historical fiction, Axe of Iron: The Settlers gripped me and kept me intrigued through every moment. I feel as though I know the characters and am rooting for them to succeed. I can’t wait for the next installment in the series to come out so I can see what happens!
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