The Raven and the Dove by K.M. Butler

Halla is 22 and ready to board a viking longship when all hell breaks lose. Wounded, but nevertheless eager to fight, she prepares herself for her end. We're in Viking Normandy (around 890 A.D.) and she fights the Frankish horseman that wounded her. Dead comes swift, as a vibration that runs through the handle of her axe and into her arm. Except, of course, it's not Halla who dies, but her Frankish opponent.

The attack forces Halla and the vikings she travels with to go on foot, instead of using the snekke longships. After all, the Frankish attack left them mostly burned and destroyed. They're on their way to Rouen, together with Rollo, the jarl.

Rollo is a military man first, but a smart one, too. He realizes that the land is no longer as rich as it used to be. No wealthy abbeys or villages. And while the plunder is still good, it's obviously not as rich anymore as it used to be.

At the other side is Taurin - a landowner ready to defend the last things he owns. Together with these characters we travel through times that lie far behind us, in lands that once formed France. Yes, K.M. Butler weaves a strong world bound by religion, loyalty and love. Times change - we learn that through the eyes of the characters. And people need to evolve. Where the Franks once ruled alone, they slowly but surely bond with the Normans to become the people that form Europe's history even more (think of 1066 when one Norman attacks Britain). This author knows how to take you through a bloody part of our history and how to create a mash up of reality and made-up characters. A book too good to be left untouched.

The Raven and the Dove, by K.M. Butler.

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