It’s time for another book review and I’m excited to share it as part of the blog tour for Warrior Prince. I personally chose to pick up the book as I wanted to read something with a Viking theme. At the same time, I wanted something a little different from other books on the market focussing them in a Saxon setting.
Warrior Prince does just that, and more besides! Before I get into the nitty-gritty, I will firstly say thank you to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources, and to the author, J.C. Duncan. I appreciate the opportunity to review the book as part of the tour.
Now, let’s get to the bit you are here for – the book!
Warrior Prince – J.C. Duncan
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Boldwood Books
Publication Date: 23 Oct 2023
Rating: 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟
Prince. Mercenary. Exile.
The lost throne of Norway must be won in foreign lands.
Some men are gifted a crown. Others have to fight to claim it.
Exiled from Norway, Harald Sigurdsson, brother to murdered King Olaf, must battle mercilessly for survival in the lands of the Kievan Rus.
His brother’s legacy gifts him a warband of hardened warriors and entry to the court of Prince Yaroslav the Wise. By his wits, sword and skill in battle, Harald must learn not just to survive but to triumph.
He fights for glory, for fame, and to regain his family’s battle-stolen throne. But his greatest
challenge may not come from battlefield foes but from those who stand by his side.
The first instalment in a remarkable story of an exiled boy’s incredible journey to become Harald
Hardrada; The Hard Ruler and The Last Viking.
Perfect for fans of Matthew Harffy, Peter Gibbons, Bernard Cornwell and Christian Cameron
Purchase Link – https://mybook.to/warriorprincesocial
Warrior Prince is full action and daring. Harald Sigurdsson is exiled from his homeland. In order to build reputation to one day claim the throne, he sets out with a warband of battle-hardened men loyal to him. His travels take him to Prince Yaroslav the Wise, and from there, across territories contested and hard fought for by many… including Harald and his men.
The battle scenes and conflict are the main drivers of the plot, and they are the scenes I most enjoyed in Warrior Prince. They are the essence of life as a Viking warrior. To emphasise their importance, they are very well written to immerse us in each battle as they play out. The danger of every moment is apparent, and has us questioning whether our favourite characters are safe throughout.
However, there is more to the book than endless battles. Harald, in the service of Prince Yaroslav the Wise, has to deal with court politics – something he is not used to or adept at. In his quest to make a name for himself and become a leader, he has to learn when words serve better than swords, and who to watch to avoid a knife in the back…
Harald is already established at the beginning of the book as a capable man with a weapon. What becomes apparent quite quickly is that he has very little knowledge or experience when it comes to diplomacy; if he can’t use his sword to get his way, he’s lost.
It’s a character arc we see develop over the course of the narrative. It doesn’t seem to come naturally to him. But, Harald proves his determination to become a leader by learning from his shortcomings as they present themselves. He and his warband are tested repeatedly, and by individuals out to discredit or outright kill them. As a result, we see this repeatedly over the course of the book!
It was for the book’s unique setting that I wanted to pick it up in the first place! I have read a lot of Viking fiction based around conflict for and within English land. And I have enjoyed those books very much. However, I was excited for the promise of something a little different. Warrior Prince is set across Eastern Europe and the Nordic countries. It’s not a setting I have read before, and consequently, it provided a unique and compelling narrative.
Naturally, there is far greater scope for travel and new scenery… and of that we see plenty. Harald and his band travel extensively over the course of the book, and we get to see and experience more variety in characters, setting and culture.
Each location, and even the narrative whilst traveling, is finely balanced between description and action. There is plenty of detail to paint a vivid description in a reader’s mind whilst not bogging down the action within the plot.
Warrior Prince is told in the form of a recollection of one of Harald‘s right-hand men. When I realised this was the format of the book, I got really excited. It is a style I have loved in fantasy books such as Patrick Rothfuss’s The Name of the Wind, R. R. Virdi’s The First Binding and Jay Kristoff’s Empire of the Vampire. All of these books got a five star rating from me. Consequently, I went in to this book with high expectations. Warrior Prince met them!
It is an interesting narrative style, because it makes us question the perception we get. Is the story being told from a wiser and more rounded individual than that same person in their youth? Or, are their perceptions of events coloured through time and/or outcomes? For example, would battles in this book be considered foolhardy in circumstances of defeat, where they are painted as phenomenal feats when recalled after victory? I suppose we will never know. But, if you enjoy thinking about that sort of thing, then it adds a layer of complexity to the narrative. Do we believe all we are told?
Full of action and intrigue, Warrior Prince gives us everything we’d expect from a Viking novel, but in a new setting and with new challenges to face. Unable to know what is immediately around the corner for Harald and his men, the book keeps us readers on the edge of our seat throughout!
Firstly, having read books in the genre by Bernard Cornwell, Matthew Harffy and Peter Gibbons, fans will enjoy Warrior Prince. Secondly, the book has its own unique spin on the genre and deviates from these authors in a way that makes it readable and standalone in its own right. So do it – you won’t regret it!
J. C. Duncan is a well-reviewed historical fiction author and amateur bladesmith, with a passion for Vikings.
Social Media Links –
Bookbub profile: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/j-c-duncan