Having visited Iceland and loved the wild beauty, I was pleased to discover Tempted by the Runes by Christina Courtenay. A time-travelling Viking romance combining Sweden, Iceland and Ireland in the 21st and 9th centuries, this is a light romance which skips along nicely.
Geir Eskilsson is a Viking adventurer who sets sail from Sviariki [Sweden] in AD875 in a ship bound for Iceland, loaded with fellow travellers, livestock and tools. During a stopover in the port of Dyflin [Dublin, Ireland] to buy thralls [slaves] to work the land, he sees a strangely dressed woman being attacked.
In 2021 a nineteen-year-old Swede, Maddie, is visiting Dublin with her parents and brother to attend the Clonarf Viking Festival. Maddie’s father is an archaeologist, her mother a conservator, so she and her siblings have attended Viking re-enactments since they were small and have learned the practical skills of Viking life at workshops. When Maddie explores Dublin on her own, she finds steps down to the shore of the River Liffey where she sees a knife half-buried in the mud.
From the beginning it’s necessary to ignore the large number of conveniences and coincidences that occur; just abandon the questioning voice in your head and enjoy the story. Maddie is incredibly naive for her age and makes many impulsive questionable decisions; for example, she leaves the hotel still wearing her Viking outfit so is appropriately dressed when she finds herself in 9th century Dyflin. There she just happens to bump into Geir, not some anonymous Viking who would have treated her differently; to explain why will spoil the plot.
The Norse legends run throughout and it felt good to understand references to Odin, Loki and Thor’s hammer. I realised at the end that I read the whole book seeing Geir as Thor in the Marvel movies and hearing his spoken voice as Chris Hemsworth. The description of Iceland’s beautiful scenery, coastline and wildlife is also well done. After the early clash of culture – Maddie is horrified when Geir returns from a hunting trip with Great Auks, birds now extinct through over-hunting – it soon settles into a will they/won’t they romance, threatened by violent visitors and a Viking femme fatale.
I admit to being irritated to discover, on starting the book, that it’s actually part of a series which is not clearly stated. After hovering, I decided to go ahead and read it. It turned out not to matter too much but I’m not sure I will now read the earlier books. Some characters from the earlier Runes books are mentioned in Tempted by the Runes so I know the outcome of their story arcs. It’s a shame this mystery is lost, as this was an entertaining romance to read on holiday.
For an easy guide to the Norse myths, read Myths of the Norsemen by Roger Lancelyn Green.
BUY THE BOOK
If you like this, try:-
‘Ferney’ by James Long
‘Winter of the Heart by EG Parsons
‘Fatal Inheritance’ by Rachel Rhys
And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
TEMPTED BY THE RUNES by @PiaCCourtenay #bookreview https://wp.me/p5gEM4-5wu via @SandraDanby