Holland continues her Viking saga (following The Soul Thief
and The Witches’ Kitchen
) with an uneven but entertaining adventure tale. After their war band is defeated in a legendary clash at Hjorunga Bay, cousins Conn and Raef Corbansson, who narrowly escaped the carnage, find themselves in the frozen north of Scandinavia. As “free warriors,” they volunteer for an expedition to seize the port city of Chersonese in “the heart of the Greek Sea.” The journey is long and arduous, Chersonese is a more formidable target than expected, and as Conn and Raef discover, their new allies are treacherous. Holland’s recreation of the expedition is imaginative and creditable, and her characters—especially introspective Raef and impulsive Conn—are sharply drawn and authentic. The action ebbs and flows, the plot is occasionally opaque and the proliferation of obscure names and places can be daunting, but the novelty of Vikings out of their traditional milieu keeps the pages turning. (Apr).