One King's Way

Harry Harrison, Author Tor Books $23.95 (399p) ISBN 978-0-312-85691-5
Cleverly combining mystical visions of Norse and Christian mythologies with an alternative history of the ninth century, Harrison's (The Stainless Steel Rat Sings the Blues) latest is an entertaining follow-up to The Hammer and the Cross. Though returning hero Shef Sigvarthsson has been made co-king of the English, at every opportunity he shucks the trappings of power and returns to his much-preferred role as blacksmith and inventor. Fleeing a disastrous attraction to his foster sister, Godive, he heads north into Viking territory, where the Way-College, run by priests dedicated to technological innovation and the god Rig, is located. Meanwhile, the Christians, led by the scholarly priest Erkenbert and the warrior Bruno, are also heading north, in search of the lance that pierced Christ's side on the cross--a relic they believe will help them build an invincible Christian Empire. In the first book, Shef angered the Ragnarsson brothers, favorites of the god Othin; now they seek to send him to Hel, where he will be their slave for eternity. The story is richly laden with detailed accounts of period naval warfare and changes in technology and culture, but one of its most satisfying pleasures is the intertwining of pagan mythologies and Christian dreams. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 04/03/1995
Release date: 04/01/1995
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