Lars Walker's The Year of the Warrior published by Baen Books left me awestruck. Don't judge this book by it's pulp-fiction cover; this is a historical sword and sorcery novel that transcends the genre. I feel as if any attempts on my behalf to convey the sweep of this story will utterly fall short, but I'll try and give little tidbits.
The historical aspect:
In this novel Walker plumbs the depths of the dark ages as the the pagan Norse religion begins to be supplanted by Christianity in Norway around 1000 A.D. Walker probes the uncomfortable horrors perpetrated by men in the name of Christianity: "Be baptized or die," becomes the mantra of the Church. And fighting this misguided version of Christianity is the brutal religion of the Viking Norsemen. For Christians reading this story, it is a harsh confrontation with an often overlooked period of history...the inglorious, tragic attempt to win the world for Christ by the sword. However, Mr. Walker creates two of the most memorable characters ever written, Father Aillil an Irish priest who despises God, and a mighty Hersir named Erling, who as a Christian, aquires Aillil to be his priest.
The story is stuffed full of adventures, heart-wrenching drama, agonizing moral dilemma, titanic battles between men, and gods (demons). And that leads into the fantasy side of the story...
The fantasy aspect:
The gods of Norway don't sit idly by. Aillil calls them demons, but the pagan Norsemen's gods show themselves in many shapes and forms, driving the motives of men, infiltrating human minds, and often manifesting themselves bodily in open warefare with Aillil, Erling, and any who dare disrupt their dominion over Norway. There are Berzerkers, Ogres, underground women, and werewolves. And there are the Norse gods Thor and Freydis! Spiritual warfare on an epic scale.
The skill of the writing:
Walkers writing is flawless. Historical scholarship, excellent storytelling, and powerful prose collide in this novel. I am confident he will one day be recognized as one of the great writers of the 21st century--and not just by Christians. Just read the reviews by these amazon reviewers who picked up his book (Click HERE). Mind you, this novel was not billed as Christian fiction, most, if not all, of the reviews are by non-Christians. Truly, for a Christian author to write a story revolving around Christianity that is not only palatable to non-Christians, but highly praised--that is a feat of no easy doing.
This book does not skirt the brutal world in any way. Though the author is not grotesque, there is much violence in this book ranging from violent battles to infanticide and rape. They are certainly crucial to the story and are not written in a glorified manner (like many horror movies nowadays). I would recommend this novel for adults (and young adults who are mature).
Now, about purchasing this book. It is out of print!! However there are two ways you can get it.
1) Buy it as an E-book from Baen Books HERE.
or if you're like me, choose option 2
2) Email the author and buy a copy directly from him. Lars Walker's email is firstname.lastname@example.org
And also! Walker has a new book out that is a sequel to The Year of the Warrior. It is called West Oversea, but it's also a stand alone. To read a review by Gene Edward Veith on Mr. Walker's newest novel, go HERE.
Visit Lars Walkers website (I'd especially recommend clicking on his link "About my books". He gives great insights into reasons to write for God's glory.)
And check out my interview with Lars Walker HERE!
Buy this book...you won't regret it!