Today I’m delighted to be sharing an excerpt from C J Adrien’s novel The Lords of the Wind as part of a blog tour hosted by The Coffee Pot Book Club. The Lords of the Wind is the first book in The Saga of Hasting the Avenger.
For two days we rowed hard along the coast of Frankland. The gods had robbed the ocean of wind, which made the men uneasy. Superstitions about the weather varied from man to man, but they all agreed that a weak wind, or none at all, did not bode well for us. At night, Egill, whose mystical powers I no longer doubted, stripped naked and chanted at the night sky to beg the gods for their favor. He took mead and meat and threw it into the ocean as an offering to Odin, but by the second night he threw out less of the meat and drank more of the mead.
I continued my duties of cooking, cleaning, and learning all the knots required for the ship’s rigging. Asa helped with some of these tasks, but most of the time she sat at the stern, idle and out of sight of the crew.
At night we slept together in a huddle under the ship’s tarp to keep warm. Eilif had made it my duty to ensure Asa remained out of reach of the others while we slept. Though none had shown an interest in her, men are men, and we did not wish to give any the opportunity to cause trouble.
After an arduous journey fraught with uncertainty about the weather, the wind appeared once again at our back and carried us swiftly to our destination. The crew was elated. When Egill first called out that he had spotted his reference point, I rushed to the prow to catch a glimpse of where we had sailed. The coastline was jagged and rocky, with nowhere to moor. More concerning were the massive, sharp rocks that thrust from the water like pikes from the bottom of a trap.
“What is this place?” I asked.
“The locals call it Armorica,” Egill said, “home to a proud people called the Celts. We call it Bretland.”
“We are no longer in Frankland?” I asked.
Egill laughed. “No, boy. Armorica is something else entirely.”
I marveled at the richness of the land both above and below the cliffs. I called Asa to the prow—I thought of us as friends now—to see what I saw. The ocean around Armorica flourished with wildlife both in and out of the water. Flocks of seabirds circled us overhead, and the bravest among them swooped down below the mast to investigate our ship. Seals lounged on the larger rocks closer to the cliffs. They robed themselves in seaweed and basked in the little sun that shone through the clouded sky. Dolphins joined us on our journey and swam before and beside the ship as if to guide us through the rocks. They jumped high above the waves, flapping their flippers as if to amuse us. Asa, Bjorn, and I lit up with excitement at the sight of them, and our enthusiasm even inspired a few smiles and laughs from the rest of the crew. We had not yet landed, and already Armorica had me under her spell. That was when Eilif joined us at the prow.
“Go on,” he said. “Climb.”
At first I did not know what he meant, but I soon understood when Asa dug her nails into the wood along the prow’s neck and climbed over the gunwale.
“You too,” Eilif said.
Carefully, I climbed and joined Asa, my hands clasped to the dragonhead above me. I had never been so close to the beast, and only then did I truly see it. It was a serpent’s head, carved with the markings of the gods and painted white and gold so it could be seen from far away. Its brow, adorned with vivid colors, gave the beast life. As I held on to keep my balance, its dark, soulless eyes stared through me into the distance.
At first I felt fear, but my courage held and excitement swelled in my heart. I stood ever taller above the ocean as a conquering hero upon his mighty steed. The passing of the wind through my hair and the splash of the water below invigorated my senses. Asa screamed with excitement, and she grew even louder when the dolphins skipped through the water below us. We were birds soaring in the wind as lords of the wind and sea.
“This is as close as any man will ever come to flying,” Eilif said. “With a favorable wind, our ships are the fastest in the world. Remember that, boy. We are a proud people because we have much to be proud of.”
Orphaned as a child by a blood-feud, and sold as a slave to an exiled chieftain in Ireland, the boy Hasting had little hope of surviving to adulthood. The gods had other plans. A ship arrived at his master’s longphort carrying a man who would alter the course of his destiny, and take him under his wing to teach him the ways of the Vikings. His is a story of a boy who was a slave, who became a warlord, and who helped topple an empire.
A supposed son of Ragnar Lodbrok, and referred to in the Gesta Normannorum as the Scourge of the Somme and Loire, his life exemplified the qualities of the ideal Viking. Join author and historian C.J. Adrien on an adventure that explores the coming of age of the Viking Hasting, his first love, his first great trials, and his first betrayal.
The Lords of the Wind by C.J. Adrien is a gold medal winner in the 2020 Reader’s Favorite annual international book award.
Praise for The Lords of the Wind
“If you want to sit down with an extremely well-researched tale involving heroic battles, first loves, and the making of a legend, this book is for you.” – The Historical Novel Society
C.J. Adrien is a bestselling and award-winning author of Viking historical fiction novels with a passion for Viking history. His Saga of Hasting the Avenger series was inspired by research conducted in preparation for a doctoral program in early medieval history as well as his admiration for historical fiction writers such as Ken Follett and Bernard Cornwell. He is also a published historian on the subject of Vikings, with articles featured in historical journals such as L’Association des Amis de Noirmoutier, in France. His novels and expertise have earned him invitations to speak at several international events, including the International Medieval Congress at the University of Leeds, the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI), conferences on Viking history in France, among others.
Book Title: The Lords of the Wind
Series: The Saga of Hasting the Avenger
Author: C.J. Adrien
Publication Date: 4th July 2019
Publisher: Runestone Books
Audiobook Publisher: Tantor Media
Narrator: Gildart Jackson
Page Length: 337 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction