West Oversea by Lars Walker

22 Oct

Lars Walker’s third novel about the Vikings begins in the year 1001. King Olaf Trygvesson is dead, but his sister’s husband, Erling Skjalgsson, carries on his dream of a Christian Norway that preserves its traditional freedoms. Rather than do a dishonorable deed, Erling relinquishes his power and lands. He and his household board ships and sail west to find a new life with Leif Eriksson in Greenland. This voyage, though, will be longer and more dangerous than they ever imagined. It will take them to an unexplored country few Europeans had seen. Demonic forces will pursue them, but the greatest danger of all may be in a dark secret carried by Father Aillil, Erling’s Irish priest.

Lars Walker is a native of Kenyon, Minnesota, and lives in Minneapolis. He has worked as a crabmeat packer in Alaska, a radio announcer, a church secretary and an administrative assistant, and is presently librarian and bookstore manager for the schools of the Association of Free Lutheran Congregations in Plymouth, Minnesota. He is the author of four previously published novels, and is the editor of the journal of the Georg Sverdrup Society. Walker says, “I never believed that God gave me whatever gifts I have in order to entertain fellow Christians. I want to confront the world with the claims of Jesus Christ.” His website address is www.larswalker.com. He blogs at www.brandywinebooks.net.

Excerpt

My Impressions:

I have always been fascinated by all things medieval.  I have read several novels in which the Vikings have been the bad guys: pillaging, raping, marauding, etc.  Lars Walker’s West Oversea presents the Vikings in a new light.  Recently converted to Christianity, many of the characters in Walker’s book strive to live their lives in ways pleasing to God.  Others are still attached to the old ways:  superstition, magic and vengeance.  Notable among the characters is Erling, a great chieftain, who dreams of a nation of laws, but no king and Ailill, a priest who struggles to keep his focus on the cross.

Based on some historical facts, (Erling was a real person), the novel begins as a quest for Ailill’s sister Maeve, reportedly a slave in Greenland.  What follows is a sometimes confusing and disjointed story with too many plot lines.  The names don’t help a lot either, although this is not really the author’s fault — the names of the Norse are hard to pronounce and are rather long (the author does include a list of characters and a pronunciation guide).

I had a hard time understanding what the author was trying to present.   There were so many elements and plot lines that seemed to go nowhere  —  Father Ailill has visions of a nation, once great, now with a loss of freedom.  A shape-shifter bent on vengeance appears throughout, but in confusing ways.   A talisman that Ailill acquires plays a smaller role in the story than one would expect.  At the end, I was left wondering why we went a-Viking.  Towards the end of the story, Ailill muses if the adventures they just experienced were all to bring two lovers together.  I wondered too, what it was all about.

(I received West Oversea from Pump Up Your Book in exchange for a review.  The opinions expressed are mine alone.)

2 Responses to “West Oversea by Lars Walker”

  1. Adam Greenwood October 22, 2010 at 7:05 pm #

    I liked the book a lot, but I’ve read the first two books in the series (they were also very good), so maybe I had a better grip on the plot threads.

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