Category Archives: Theodore Brun

Theodore Brun: A Burning Sea (review)

book cover of A Burning Sea

A Burning Sea  (2020)
(The third book in the Wanderer Chronicles series)

Erlan Aurvandil has turned his back on the past and his native Northern lands, taking a perilous journey to the greatest city in the world, Constantinople. But as his voyage ends, Erlan is brutally betrayed, captured and enslaved by a powerful Byzantine general. Meanwhile, Lilla Sviggarsdottir, Queen of Svealand, has lost her husband and with him, her father’s kingdom. Her life in danger, Lilla escapes to find Erlan, the one man who can save her, following his trail to the very gates of Constantinople. But corruption infests the city, and a dark tide is rising against the Emperor from within his own court. As the shadows darken and whispers of war begin to strengthen, Erlan’s fate becomes intertwined with that of the city. Are they both doomed to fall, or can freedom be won in the blood of battle?

Review

This is a series that has intrigued me since book one, its in the main an Historical Fiction novel, but dances around some fantasy and supernatural, which is to say that in its historical period anything that cannot be explained has a supernatural/ fantasy edge, especially with the introduction of Azazel (from the book of Enoch, the demon/ fallen angel that corrupted man). Its the inclusion of this element/ character at first that made me skeptical of the book, but came for me to make the book. It added a darker hidden element to the original plot, and now in book 3 has become a driving force in Erlan’s travels and life. It is to excise this influence that he leaves and travels to Constantinople and becomes embroiled in the politics and war of a much larger world, truly a wanderer, a man haunted by so much of his past that he must keep moving, a man who is driven to be more than he is, but weighted down by so much regret for what has gone awry with his life and his perceived destiny.

To offset Erlans POV we also have Lilla’s, who herself has gone through so much to and given up so much to save her fathers kingdom, only for it to be cruelly snatched away from her again. She must chase Erlan footsteps into the unknown, following his trail to the greatest city on earth, and attempt to bring him and hopefully an army back and win her kingdom again.

This for me is easily the best book of the series, while i have enjoyed the Azazel edge to the tales, book 3 brings about its climax (or does it… never assume and author is done)… Erlans internal fight against the taint of this demon and its baresark rage sets him apart, but his fight for more, to prove he is more, that he can fight and live without the demon really makes his character stand out in book 3, we start i think to see who Hakan is and can be. The inclusion of Einar in the book is IMHO genius, he brings the needed humour to the tale that could otherwise be too dark at times, a character with indomitable courage and will, a man with an iron word who will be there to the end and beyond, and most especially with something sarcastic or funny to add.

In among all the fighting and scheming is also a love story and a story of personal discovery, Erlan has loved and lost, and in that loss he lost his identity, he lost his home, his life and how to be himself, in part he has run from so he is so he can try and escape the pain of that loss, both family and his childhood love. Nothing in his life prepared him for the pain he would feel and the desolation it would bring to his world, i think this allowed him to throw himself into what ever came next, he had tried to numb himself to mental emotion and pain, and accept the physical pain in its stead, this helped shape the warrior he has become, his fatalistic approach to all, yet some part of Hakan is always there because he still craves that friendship, and then the sunrise of Lila has slowly made him doubt Erlans existence….its this underlying plot that really gives the story its power.

All of this is against the backdrop of Constantinople on the verge of destruction, the Muslim army is at the door, traitors abound, and a new emperor must walk the tightrope of politics and war, both internally and externally. I normally shy from byzantine books, but every now and again someone manages to show me the majesty and the machinations of the time and its location and so hooks me (it helps that it includes vikings).

I find these days the speed that i read is a very good indication of my enjoyment, this is a 512 page book, a decent door stop, as all in the series have been. But i read it in the same amount of time i read my last 200 page book, its a book that engages from the first page, and throws you into the plot, i felt at times like i’d been kidnapped, stuck in the bowels of the ship or the corner of a cell to cower and endure the journey/ confinement, to feel all the trials of Erlan and just when finally we are saved from servitude and punishment i was thrust with him into the tale of backstabbing and war. its a book that thrills and exhausts at the same time (i was up until the early hours reading this, i couldn’t put it away). I’m now left lamenting the end, but rejoicing that there will be more, and i shall be prodding Mr Brun for book 4…. because i cant wait.

This book is easily going to be top 10 for the year, i highly suspect top 5.

Very highly recommended

(Parm)

 

 

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Series
Wanderer Chronicles
   1. A Mighty Dawn (2017)
   2. A Sacred Storm (2018)
   3. A Burning Sea (2020)
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Novellas
   A Winter’s Night (2018)
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Theodore Brun A Sacred Storm (2018)

Theodore Brun

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Theo is an established author and public speaker.​ At Cambridge, he studied Dark Age archaeology (amongst other things). After university he trained as a solicitor, qualifying into international arbitration law where he worked for several years, including for two Magic Circle firms. His career took him first to London, then to Moscow, Paris and finally

A Sacred Storm  (2018)
(The second book in the Viking Chronicles series)

book cover of A Sacred Storm

8th Century Sweden: Erlan Aurvandil, a Viking outlander, has pledged his sword to Sviggar Ivarsson, King of the Sveärs, and sworn enemy of the Danish king Harald Wartooth. But Wartooth, hungry for power, is stirring violence in the borderlands. As the fires of this ancient feud are reignited Erlan is bound by honour and oath to stand with King Sviggar.

But, unbeknownst to the old King his daughter, Princess Lilla, has fallen under Erlan’s spell. As the armies gather Erlan and Lilla must choose between their duty to Sviggar and their love for each other.

Blooded young, betrayed often, Erlan is no stranger to battle. And hidden in the shadows, there are always those determined to bring about the maelstrom of war..

Review

When i read the first book in this series A Mighty Dawn i admitted to having had initial reservations, but the book grew and drew me in. Sacred Storm however took hold of me from the first page, my only concern was its size a whopping 704 pages, its a hefty beast. But there isn’t a wasted sentence in the whole book

This is a book and series that crosses boundaries, On the one had we have the viking world told in all its visceral glory, not needing to go raiding elsewhere, but life, love and war in their lands, and on the other had we have blended in the myths that surround their lives, the superstition brought to life, which for me edges the book into both the Historical Fiction Genre and also the Fantasy Genre, it certainly stimulates my love of both genres.

Sacred storm takes the reader on turbulent ride following the rise and fall of the fortunes of Erlan Aurvandil, an outsider with no past, at least not one he wants to share.  By wits and skill of arms he has risen high in fortunes and favour with the Svear King Sviggar, and on his coat tails rides his friend (Kai) the Loki to his brooding warrior. Their world is due to endure a dramatic upheaval, machinations are at work, both political and mysterious, and the impact will be catastrophic, love will be gained and lost, wealth and power gained and lost, and ultimately the warp and weft of fate will be decided on the battlefield.

Where i enjoyed A Mighty Storm, i loved a Sacred Storm, it has all the elements you need in an epic tale of battle , love and power, and its told in a gripping energetic style, nothing mythological seems far fetched, just another explanation of haw the world turns, the authors love of the Viking period shines like polished hack silver from every line.

This is a truly wonderful story and it still has so much more to give, the fact that this is a book two clearly shows how much this author has to give both in story and talent, this is a series both genres need to get behind, Fantasy/ Myth and History  blended to perfection.

Highly recommended

(Parm)

Series
Viking Chronicles
1. A Mighty Dawn (2017)
2. A Sacred Storm (2018)
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Theodore Brun: A Mighty Dawn (Guest Post and Review)

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Theodore Brun studied Dark Age archaeology at Cambridge, where he graduated with a BA in Archaeology and Anthropology and an MPhil in History. He also rowed in the Boat Race for the university. Professionally, Theodore qualified and worked as an arbitration lawyer, in London, Moscow, Paris and finally Hong Kong. In 2010, he quit his job in Hong Kong and cycled 10,000 miles across the whole of Asia and Europe (crossing 20 countries) to his home in Norfolk. Theodore is a third generation Viking immigrant – his Danish grandfather having settled in England in 1932. He is married and divides his time between London and Norfolk. A Mighty Dawn is his first novel.

 Mighty Dawn  (2017)
(The first book in the Viking Chronicles series)

book cover of A Mighty Dawn

Sworn to honour.Broken by betrayal.Hakan, son of Haldan, chosen son of the Lord of the Northern Jutes, swears loyalty to his father in fire, in iron, and in blood. But there are always shadows that roam. When a terrible tragedy befalls Hakan’s household he is forced to leave his world behind. He must seek to pledge his sword to a new king. Nameless and alone, he embarks on a journey to escape the bonds of his past and fulfil his destiny as a great warrior.Whispers of sinister forces in the north pull Hakan onwards to a kingdom plagued by mysterious and gruesome deaths. But does he have the strength to do battle with such dark foes? Or is death the only sane thing to seek in this world of blood and broken oaths?

Guest Post

The birth of A Mighty Dawn

My father once told me this story. When he was a young boy, a famous author of the day came to give a talk at his school. He told the pupils that a great story always has four elements: mystery, nobility, religion, and sex.

After assembly my father’s first class happened to be English. The teacher told the boys to write a story that incorporated these four things. The boys settled in to their task, but after only a minute, one hand shot up.

“Finished, sir!”

“Finished? You can’t possibly have finished. Now, shut up and get on with it,’ growled the teacher.

“Oh, but I have, sir,” insisted the boy. “Mystery, nobility, religion, and – ahem – sex. They’re all in there.”

‘Stupid child,” muttered the teacher. “Very well. Up here and read it out.”

Taking his place, clearing his throat, the boy read out the following: “My God, cried the Duchess. I’m pregnant!   And I don’t know whose it is.”

I can’t say that I believe this little vignette actually took place – at least not in my father’s class – but the punchline (and principle) have stuck in my mind. And I joke not when I say that this was the sole guideline that I had at my disposal when I began writing A Mighty Dawn over 5 years ago now.

Of course, structure and craft are one thing. Content, quite another. And the inspiration for the story came in two stages. First, the seedbed; then, the seed.

The seedbed consisted of every Old Norse saga and mythological poem I could lay my hands on after becoming captivated by the epic world of the Ring Cycle. (Yes, embarrassingly enough, it was Wagner’s interminable operas that blew a hole in my imagination so large that only writing my own series of epic historical novels was going to fill it!) So I became obsessed with the language, the poetry, the beauty, the drama, the landscapes of the Old North. The downright strangeness of it all. I had fallen under the spell of the “Northernness” – as C.S. Lewis calls it. Texts like the Saga of the Volsung, the Niebelunglied, the Prose and Poetic Eddas occupied my imagination, when I should have been concentrating on the hoops I need to jump through in order to qualify as a lawyer.

So much for the seedbed.

It was some years before the seed dropped into it. In 2009, during a lecture in Oxford about an obscure 8th century missionary called Saint Boniface, I first heard the story of his chopping down the sacred oak of the thunder god Donner (or Thor) in a dark German forest. As I listened, the fault-line between the paganism of Old Europe and the new faith of Christianity opened up before me like the crack of doom. Intrigued, I read more about this man and was surprised to discover that in this period of European history – the early 8th century – Islam was in the mix too. And the conflict – between Christianity and Islam at least – reached a sort of climax in the Battle of Tours (Poitiers) in 732AD. Surely, I thought, here was the denouement to some epic tale.

The cogs started turning, the world growing in my mind, and before long I had a protagonist. A man from the north. A heathen. A warrior who somehow finds himself embroiled in the events that would forge early Medieval Europe, arguably with echoes that still resound today. But why was this man there? Who was he? A Mighty Dawn is the beginning of the answer to these questions. His origin story, if you like.

So, yes – mystery, nobility, religion, sex – you’ll find them all in this book. And, hopefully, a whole lot more besides!

Review

I will admit to at one point thinking i wouldn’t review this book, as i don’t review books i dislike. The first part of the book seemed like an adolescent love story rapidly doing a romeo and Juliet, and really didn’t float my boat, i suppose i’m too old for being concerned by teenage angst, no matter what era its set in. But then the book started taking a deeper, darker turn, and i suppose the darkness of Hakan appealed to the blue funk i found myself in pre Christmas. But its from the point that Hakan sheds his name and goes off alone that the book really takes flight. Bringing together the harsh reality and harsh climate of the land and time, with his personal journey through emotional hell and his fight to find some new meaning in his life, some new direction, a direction not handed to him by his father.

Finding a new lord to serve adds new elements new characters, new challenges and new dimensions, inc the addition of mythical beings from Norse culture, turning the tale from its darkness to a classic rescue story, the lone warrior aided by his best friend set off against suicidal odds with almost no chance of survival, and no real care if he doesn’t. He would forge his name or failure would mean he no longer cared.

By the end of the book the author had hooked me in, i very much want to read the next step in the saga and see what happens to our Stranger and his friend. To find out what the fall out of their actions may be and how the every changing political landscape will impact them, and i suspect eventually lead them back to his homeland, maybe as a foe or ally?

The book is well worth a read, and i suspect there will be more to come in terms of growth in A Sacred Storm in 2018

(Parm)

Viking Chronicles
1. A Mighty Dawn (2017)
2. A Sacred Storm (2018)
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