Hello! Welcome to the latest post here on the Swordsmith blog. Westu hal to you, I am delighted to be working with Justine and Timy from Storytellers On Tour once again. We are working today to help with the launch of Windborn by Alex S Bradshaw – which I am already saying is one of the best books that I have read this year!
Before we go any further, this is one of my new micro reviews with an excerpt, I would be interested in any feedback for this idea and do also check out everyone else posting about the book today as this is a book blitz after all.
Drowning is only the beginning…
Edda Gretasdottir is a raider, a fell-handed shield-maiden, feared along every coast. Hers is a life woven in battle scars.
But she never wanted to walk the warrior’s path. All she wanted was freedom, to earn enough gold to buy her family their own remote farm, and to escape their oppressive chieftain. Now, she has enough plunder so that she can finally hang up her shield and live in peace.
That peace is stolen from Edda, however, when raiders burn her home, destroy all that she loves, and toss her, wounded and bleeding, into the ravenous ocean.
But the fates are cruel and this is not the end for Edda: she rises from the bloody surf as a Windborn, a cursed warrior whose supernatural gifts are a poor exchange for everything she has lost.
Fuelled by rage and armed with strange new powers Edda will hunt for whoever sent the raiders, for whoever is responsible for taking everything from her. She will show them the sharp edge of her axe… or die trying.
The micro review
Considering it’s influence on fantasy as a genre – Norse Inspired fantasy is simply wonderful to read. Alex takes you into this world at full throttle and presents one of the most compelling heroines I have ever read – Edda Gretasdottir – and her journey was wonderful to be on.
I admired the book as the length of each chapter really helped to immerse me in the story, I liked how the pace could change and a tip of the hat to Alex for tension building as well. This is clearly an advantage of writing in the first person, it puts the reader in a very different position to third person and I loved every page of it.
The magic system, which is mysterious as magic is in Norse Mythology and therefore while being rules based is also subject to a bit of luck when the powers are given to the Windborn. It is also some wonderful secondary characters, they help move the plot and show Edda different ways of life and also how to act in her new life. This is not a happy story, as any story of revenge there are consequences but Alex handles this well.
The final point I would like to make is about the vivid writing and how wonderfully Alex pulls you into this world – but don’t take it from me check out this excerpt and see what you think – as always westu hal, hope you are reading something awesome and stay safe.
The longship was too small. Men and women, stained from our raid, dripped sweat and worse onto the wet sand. They shouted and pointed, trying to be the first to load their spoils. The taste of blood still bothered me and I turned back to the small waves clawing at my feet. As I crouched down to wash the blood from my face, the taste of salt seeped past my lips to mix with the iron. I spat a glob of blood and seawater onto the sand. Up and down the shoreline others did the same. We stained the sea red. “Edda.” I splashed another handful of water on my face before I stood and faced Atli. “What is it?” I snapped. This was our first rest in what felt like forever and we were about to be stuck together on a sea voyage for five days, if we were lucky, longer if we weren’t. Ask any raider and they will tell you their last moments of solitude are precious. “Go and get Bjolfur,” he said and pinched the bridge of his nose. I pushed myself to my feet and stormed over to the longship. It was beached in a sheltered cove near to the temple we had raided. The temple was too large for us to raid alone, but we had joined forces with other longships who had beached themselves further along the shore. Each of them would be hauling their plunder onto their ships and making ready to leave before nightfall. The argument had grown more heated, and the air was heavy with a tension that suggested bloodshed was a single misstep away. I sighed as I heard my husband in the middle of it, his voice the loudest, and saw him jab a finger at the raid leader. “—need to get home. We took the hostages to put them to work. We shouldn’t wait to see if anyone comes to ransom them back. We need to sail.” A chorus of agreement from the fighters behind him. Malka, our raid leader, raised a hand to try and placate the crowd. “We should give them a few days to pay the bounties, Bjolfur. Gold is easier to carry across the sea. If they come for the captives by then, we should still be back with plenty of time for you to do your work on the farm.” Some of the others looked unsure. Whatever Bjolfur had told them, he likely hadn’t told them the whole truth. “I took my hostage to help me with the farm. What good is gold when I need to get the flock in for the winter?” Malka balled her fists and looked around. She saw me and relief washed over her face. “Can you talk to him?” Bjolfur spun around but his anger faltered when he saw me. He looked ready to continue the argument regardless, but my arrival provided enough of a disruption and most of the onlookers had started to move away to collect their shields for the return journey. Bjolfur came over to me as he grumbled to himself. I took his hand and dragged him to the sea. “She wants me to leave the hostage behind,” he said as I bent and soaked a strip of cloth in the water. “Do we really need an extra pair of hands on the farm?” Bjolfur huffed. “You can never have too many hands.” “Maybe,” I conceded and passed him the wet rag. “But we’ve managed fine so far. And if Malka takes the gold and silver instead of hostages then we’ll be able to hire help. If we get enough gold we might even have enough to start our own farm.” He stopped washing his face and frowned at me. “We need help more than we need gold.” We looked at each other. His face shone with half-washed blood and dirt and there was a blunt tiredness in his eyes. It had been a long raiding trip and Bjolfur always worried about the farm, even if we were only away overnight. I sighed and went to him. His arms fell around my waist and he rested his head on my chest. I leaned down and kissed the top of his head. “If you keep arguing with her, Malka will never let us leave.” I tugged softly on his braided beard. “And then it won’t matter if we have extra help or not. We’ll be stuck here, watching the winter storms. What’ll happen to Scratcher or the rest of the chickens? To the sheep?” Bjolfur scowled then kissed me. The taste of iron and salt pressed against my lips again. “She wants to keep us waiting here, anyway. What do you suggest, wise wife of mine?” I shoved him playfully. “Let’s see if we can convince Malka to leave tomorrow. If they don’t come to get their loved ones by then they probably never will, and if we leave any later then we risk winter storms.” Bjolfur looked unconvinced. He scrubbed his hands over the stubble on his head that had grown in the weeks we’d been raiding. “Look, one day’s delay won’t matter and the longer we talk about this, the less likely we can set sail today anyway.” He stopped scrubbing his head and stared at the horizon through the gap in the cove’s cliff walls. Gulls laughed above us. People shouted to one another as they gathered supplies and weapons. At the other end of the cove, a larger longship slithered into the sea. Compared to our band of fighters their crew moved with a slick precision that they had mirrored on the battlefield. “Fine,” Bjolfur said, then slapped my hand. “Stop picking your scabs. They’ll scar.” “I like my scars,” I said. “They remind me of things. You see this one? I got this three years ago the last time we came raiding in Ertland.” “I remember,” Bjolfur muttered. “Some fucker stuck you with a knife and was about to finish you off.” “And you leapt out of nowhere and killed him.” I ran my thumb over the puckered skin with exaggerated affection. “It reminds me that you love me.” “Atli’s wife is content with jewellery,” Bjolfur said, shaking his head. “He gave her a gold ring last raiding season.” “I might lose a ring. Come on, let’s talk to Malka.” After I had taken Bjolfur away, the dissidents dispersed to tend to their equipment. Malka and Atli were the only two people on board, moving sacks around to pack as much as they could into the small vessel. The line of twenty-seven bound captives huddled in the longship’s shadow ducked their heads as we approached. Too many to fit comfortably on our longship, but they were hard-won and could fetch a pretty price.
Alex S. Bradshaw grew up in Kent in the UK and spent much of his childhood hiding (sometimes under tables) and reading a book.
He has always been a fan of epic stories (as well as dinosaurs and cake) so it came as no surprise to anyone that he went on to study Classics and Ancient History at university.
Now Alex works in publishing and has turned his hand to making epic stories of his own.
Finally there is a competition running, it’s totally free and you can win the grand prize of a paperback copy and runners up will receive ebooks. Think about how wonderful it will look on your bookshelf, the link to enter is here.