Forged By Iron
(Olaf's Saga Book 1)
By Eric Schumacher
From the bestselling author of Hakon’s Saga comes Forged by Iron, the first in a series of thrilling tales about Olaf Tryggvason, one of the most legendary and enigmatic kings of the Viking Age. Norway, AD 960.
The fabric that has held the Northern realm together is tearing. The sons of Erik Bloodaxe have returned and are systematically killing all opposition to the High Seat. Through treachery, Harald Eriksson slays Jarl Trygvi, an heir to the throne, and then comes for Trygvi’s wife, Astrid, and son, Olaf. Astrid and Olaf flee their home with the help of Astrid’s foster father, Torolv Loose-beard, and his son, Torgil, who are oath-sworn to protect them. The group escapes east, through the dark, forested land of the Swedes and across the treacherous East Sea, all the while evading the clutches of Harald’s brutal henchmen. But the gods are fickle and the group is torn apart, forcing them to fend for themselves in Forged by Iron, a must-read for all who enjoy action-packed historical fiction.
"Oaths are like iron, Torgil," whispered my father as we watched the king embrace my former foster sister. "You cannot break them..."
King Trygvi had put his eight-year-old son's welfare into the hands of Torgil, son of Torolv. At twelve-years-old Torgil had felt honoured with the responsibility but right now when he saw that mischievous light in his young charges eyes he could only fear what Prince Olaf's playfulness would mean for him — a reprimand from the king, no doubt, and a lash from his father. But, Torgil would honour the oath, no matter what fate might have installed for him and Olaf.
From a witless leap into the cold and unforgiving sea to a battle that would end in either freedom or death, Forged By Iron (Olaf's Saga Book 1) by Eric Schumacher is the unforgettable story about a young boy's determination to honour his oath no matter what the circumstances.
With the dedicated devotion of a Skald and a novelist intuition for what makes a book entertaining, Schumacher has presented his readers with a novel that is as impressive as it is mesmerising. Forged by Iron (Olaf's Saga Book 1) is a story of betrayal, torment, suffering, and a deep and unbreakable friendship. It is the tale of two children who by oath find themselves forever beholding to each other. It is, in all ways, a richly detailed and emotionally charged story that leaves a reader gasping and begging for more.
Schumacher evokes such a strong sense of place and time in all of his books, and this one is no exception. His attention to the historical detail as well as the documented sources of Olaf's life has to be commended. The hours of research that went into this story is evident in the crystalline prose and enthralling storyline. Schumacher skillfully weaves historical fact with a little creative licence to pen a tale that is not only wonderfully developed but also one that is utterly captivating from start to finish. Schumacher is an author that makes history come alive in all of its glory and disasters. If this were the time of the Skald's, then Schumacher would have been in much demand in the Mead Halls.
With one eye on the history and the other on what entertains a reader, Schumacher has written his best book yet. Told through the eyes of young Torgil, Schumacher tells a story that is as heart-rendering as it is desperate. Torgil is a fabulously drawn protagonist whom a reader can get behind and root for. Torgil has two great gifts which sees him through some of the darkest of days — he knows when to keep silent, but he is also made of the strongest mettle. Events happen in this story that would break a man, let alone a child, but Torgil's determination and pig-headed grit to not only survive but take control of the situation made him so very likeable.
Breaking with historical fact, Schumacher decided to introduce us to Olaf slightly earlier than what the saga about this man state. I can understand his reason for doing so, and with regards to this story and these characters, it worked incredibly well. It gives the friendship between Olaf and Torgil a sense of authenticity — together they face some life-changing events that take them on an unexpected journey of hardship and suffering. This made their bond, and the oath so much more durable and realistic.
At the beginning of this tale, Olaf is a cheeky little boy, who like many children want to take part in what their older counterparts are doing. Olaf also has a reckless attitude to life — he is yet to realise he is not immortal. There is also a little arrogance to his personality — he is a prince, and he knows it. However, when his father is betrayed most dreadfully, Olaf unwittingly turns to Torgil. Olaf's relationship with Torgil changes through the course of this book. They become uncommonly close, and there is nothing one would not do for the other. I thought Olaf's depiction was marvellous. I really enjoyed reading about him.
There are several antagonists in this book, from the traitorous Holger to the vile and cruel Klerkon. But it was Heres' depiction that made my skin crawl. Heres is a despicably wicked man who torments our brave protagonists so very cruelly. I despised this character so much. He is the cause of so much suffering, and his disregard for life is disgustingly vile. Saying that, however, Heres really drives this story forward. Although this story is told by Torgil, it is the antagonists that control the narrative and the fate of these boys. One thing is for sure, Schumacher really knows how to pen a good villain.
Forged By Iron (Olaf's Saga Book 1) by Eric Schumacher is a book that begs to be read in one sitting. It demands your attention and is worthy of a place on your bookshelf. When historical fiction is written in such a way, then there is no such thing as too much. Book 2 cannot come soon enough.
I Highly Recommend.
Review by Mary Anne Yarde.
The Coffee Pot Book Club.
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Forged By Iron
Eric Schumacher was born in Los Angeles in 1968 and currently resides in Santa Barbara, CA with his wife, two children, and dog. He is the author of three historical fiction novels set in the Viking Age: God’s Hammer, Raven’s Feast, and War King. All tell the story of the first Christian king of Viking Norway, Hakon Haraldsson, and his struggles to gain and hold the High Seat of his realm. For more information on Mr. Schumacher or to read more of his blog posts about the Viking Age, please visit is website.