Linnea Hartsuyker is a graduate of NYU's Fiction MFA program and Cornell University's Engineering school, and has been researching the rise and reign of Harald Fairhair since she first discovered she was descended from him at the age of seventeen, when her family traced its ancestry back through 1200 years of Swedish and Norwegian church records. Since then she has read extensively of Icelandic sagas, kayaked and skied the fjordland settings for this novel, and even become proficient in lifting Husafjell stones, as the Vikings did to become stronger.
Replete with exciting battles, duels, and sieges[...] this novel can stand proudly with Edison Marshall's The Viking and Frans G. Bengtsson's The Long Ships as an immersive fictional recreation of a bloody moment in Scandinavian history * Publishers Weekly * Linnea Hartsuyker brings myth and legend roaring to life in this superbly good page-turning saga of Viking-era Norway. Hartsuyker is fearless as she navigates a harsh, exacting and hair-raising world, with icy fjords and raiding seasons and ancient blood feuds. But the book's fiercest magic shines in the characters of Ragnvald and Svanhild, as unforgettable a brother and sister duo as I can remember in recent literature. Linnea Hartsuyker is an exciting, original voice in historical fiction, and The Half-Drowned King is nothing short of mesmerizing * Paula McLain * Lovers of epic rejoice! Hartsuyker illuminates these old stories with authority and visceral detail, bringing to life the adventure, bleak beauty and human struggle that lies at their heart. A vivid and gripping read * Madeline Miller, author of the Orange Prize 2012 winner The Song of Achilles * Making her fiction debut, Hartsuyker, who claims descent from Norway's first king, writes an absolutely top-notch Viking saga, and readers will eagerly await the next two volumes * Starred review, Library Journal * Steeped in legend and myth, Hartsuyker's debut is a swashbuckling epic of family, love, and betrayal that reimagines the Norse sagas....While Hartsuyker's prose is straightforward, the plot is as deliciously complex as Game of Thrones. And, in an era so dominated by the tales of men, it's nice to see a complicated, cunning heroine like Svanhild swoop in and steal the show. Hold on to your helms and grab your shields - Hartsuyker is just getting started * Kirkus Reviews * A spellbinding evocation of a long-lost world of magic and blood feuds, populated by characters riddled with doubt and human failing beneath their epic exteriors * Bookpage * A terrific historical epic...Posing thoughtful questions about the nature of honor and heroism, and devoting significant attention to women's lives, the novel takes a fresh approach to the Viking adventure genre. The multifaceted characters are believable products of their era yet relatable to modern readers; the rugged beauty of Norway's farmlands and coastal landscapes likewise comes alive. The language is clear and eloquent, and the action scenes will have the blood humming in your veins. This is how tales from the old sagas should be told * Starred review, Booklist * Game of Thrones will be back on our screens by the time this epic Viking saga comes out, and it's a safe literary bet for those of us who enjoy a bit of Westeros action. Ragnvald Eysteinsson is betrayed by his avaricious stepfather, and in trying to gain back his rightful inheritance, he pledges his sword to a young warrior plotting to become the king. If you like your heroes noble and your struggles for power bloody, this one's for you * 24 Best books To Read This Summer from Elle.com * Ms Hartsuyker captures the sense of saga times and saga heroes:violent but litigious, treacherous but honorable, impetuous but crafty...Like Game of Thrones, only more unscrupulous * Wall Street Journal * Suspenseful, intriguing, gripping!... Treachery and astonishment and surprise are always right around the corner...As with all great historical fiction, there are strong similarities to actual events. Good research is very important to a believable historical novel. This book has it. If you enjoy Bernard Cornwell, do not pass this book by. It is well worth the read! * New York Journal of Books * An unusual Viking saga. Most such fiction is written by men and tells largely of blood-soaked battles, the lopping off of limbs and disembowellings. Hartsuyker's book has its share of violent action as it relates the story of its hero Ragnvald Eysteinsson, who survives a near-drowning by his enemies to hitch his fortunes to the rising star of Harald Fairhair, a teenage warrior and would-be king of all Norway in the ninth century. It also has several strands of narrative - mostly focused on Ragnvald's sister Svanhild as she strives to assert herself in a male dominated world - that are less predictable. This is a novel that creates a more nuanced and richer portrait of Viking society, with its complex web of rituals, laws and debts of honour, than the genre usually provides * Sunday Times *