** spoiler alert ** Thank you Netgalley for the opportunity to read & review.
I was intrigued about this book from the minute I saw the cover. It's absolutely gorgeous ~ the Longship, the typeset, the colors, the sea mist ~ everything! That the book was written about a period during the peak of the Viking Age ~ clinched the deal ~ I definitely wanted to read it. I'm so glad I got the chance.
It's a beautiful story & romance that kept me captivated until the end. The heroine 'Jilliand' seemed almost unrealistically strong at times. Again and again, striking out on her own & putting herself in perilous situations. She was described as "beautiful" with emerald eyes & fiery sunset hair. How such a woman wasn't raped and/or taken advantage of but rather helped in each predicament, was quite astonishing (and again, perhaps a bit unrealistic??) The reader can't help but admire and "root for her" tho, the way her character and life history was developed, created an extraordinary woman ~ every bit equal to a Viking Sea Lord! Speaking of which, the love story between herself & her Viking captor, Rurik, was agonizingly slow-building but heart breakingly exquisite. The romantic in me just "sighed." They spent more time getting to know each other & subsequently being torn apart than they ever did being together but that just made it all the more beguiling.
The historical aspect of Viking culture was equally interesting to read about. How they assimilated their captives and often settled an area after conquering it (as in Rus where Rurik goes in the story) demonstrated why they were successful. Combined with their legendary fighting & boat building skills, it's amazing they were ever defeated. I wish I would have read the authors notes first, to know that Rurik was based on an actual person in history. It adds another element of authenticity to the book. I don't mind at all that the author took creative license by making up an equally powerful love story to accompany his prowess as a leader. It seems only fitting he should have one and made me hope he did in actuality as well.
If 'Jilliand' has weaknesses as a book (or character,) I'm willing to overlook them ~ it was such an enjoyable read that I have no desire to pick them apart. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone interested in this period in history and looking for something quick and easy to read.