It’s a real pleasure today to be helping launch the blog tour for The Runes of Destiny by Christina Courtenay and sharing my review: published by Headline Review on 10th December (and available to preorder if you really can’t wait!), it’ll be available for kindle, in paperback and as an audiobook via Amazon in the UK and US. My thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for the invitation and support, and to the publishers for my advance reading copy (provided via netgalley).
When I reviewed the first book in this excellent new series, Echoes of the Runes (you’ll find that review here), I mentioned that I read my first book by Christina way back in 2013, and I’ve always really loved her writing. She’s one of a small handful of authors who’ve really nailed the art of writing a strong and convincing time slip story – two stories of equal strength and interest, characters you care about, every transition convincing and believable, all backed up by meticulous historical research. If I’m honest, I did initially wonder if the Vikings would be entirely my cup of tea – but I so enjoyed the last book that I was very much looking forward to this one…
Separated by time. Brought together by fate.
Linnea felt a shiver travel the length of her spine.
It hadn’t been a joke – the runes really had shown her destiny.
Indulging her fascination for the Viking language and losing herself in an archaeological dig is just what Linnea Berger needs after her recent trauma. Uncovering an exquisite brooch, she blacks out reading the runic inscription, only to come to, surrounded by men in Viking costume, who seem to take re-enactment very seriously.
Lost and confused, Linnea finds herself in the power of Hrafn, a Viking warrior who claims her as his thrall and takes her on a treacherous journey across the seas to sell her for profit. Setting sail, she confronts the unthinkable: she has travelled back to the ninth century.
Linnea is determined to find a way back to her own time, but there’s a connection forming with Hrafn. Can she resist the call of the runes and accept her destiny lies here…
Very much a time travel story this time – the contemporary story only really features at the beginning and end – and I must say that I thought it was quite wonderful.
It’s a light read in some ways – sometimes a bit tongue-in-cheek after Linnea finds herself back in the ninth century, with none of her usual home comforts and very little that’s familiar other than what she’s learned from her reading, and it’s rather fortunate that she’s passably fluent in the language. It’s all such tremendous fun, a superb edge-of-the-seat adventure story, the journey from Sweden to Istanbul fraught with danger, threats coming in from all sides and also from rather closer to home.
Linnea’s a quite wonderful heroine, a really strong woman anchoring the story however at sea she might feel at times – and Hrafn is strong too, but tender and sensitive (and very hot!), and I think I might have seriously considered staying in the ninth century too, whatever the hardships.
But the amount of research that went into the writing this book must have been immense – the author brings the era and its characters to life in a way that’s entirely authentic and believable, building a world you entirely inhabit for as long as you read through every little detail. There are bits of historical fact (like the history of Novgorod, or the route they’re following to Istanbul) when Linnea has a 21st century perspective and knowledge – which, of course, she does rather need to conceal until she knows her travelling companions rather better.
The little details are just wonderful – the Viking hierarchy and its complications, the tedium of the tasteless daily porridge, the origin of aspirin, the clothing, the amber, the knitting, even how the women coped when it was their time of the month. And the journey is absolutely fascinating – the ports they call into along the way, the carrying of the boats around the rapids where enemies lie in wait. And I learned so many facts I can now throw into casual conversation – I’d suggest you might want to avoid me at parties for a while.
The ending is excellent – tying up any loose ends, but also leaving things nicely open for the next in the series. I honestly can’t wait – I really loved this one, and the author’s writing has never been better. One I’m really happy to recommend…
With thanks to Christina and Rachel, I’m delighted to offer one lucky reader the chance to win a signed copy of The Runes of Destiny and a Plushy Raven (open internationally). Not too familiar with plushy ravens? I have a picture…!
Here’s the rafflecopter for entry:
Terms and Conditions Worldwide entries welcome. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data. I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.
About the author
Christina Courtenay writes historical romance, time slip and time travel stories, and lives in Herefordshire (near the Welsh border) in the UK. Although born in England, she has a Swedish mother and was brought up in Sweden – hence her abiding interest in the Vikings. Christina is a former chairman of the UK’s Romantic Novelists’ Association and has won several awards, including the RoNA for Best Historical Romantic Novel twice with Highland Storms (2012) and The Gilded Fan (2014). The Runes of Destiny (time travel published by Headline 10th December 2020) is her latest novel. Christina is a keen amateur genealogist and loves history and archaeology (the armchair variety).