Wise? No. It was undoubtedly the very opposite. But right? That was something else entirely.
On the eve of her betrothal to a nobleman she's never met, Rhiannon seeks comfort on the shores of the sea she loves so well. But instead of offering peace to her uneasy heart, the ocean heralds doom with the arrival of dreaded Viking ships. A vicious raid leads to the death of her beloved father and leaves Rhiannon's life in tatters. Heartbroken, she travels to Ynys Môn, where she takes up residence at the royal court of Owain Gwynedd.
Leif loves voyaging on the open water. As the son of a Viking chief, he's accustomed to his people's practice of plundering and looting. But when one of his companions ruthlessly kills an old man in front of the man's beautiful daughter, Leif is haunted by the memory. Desperate to find forgiveness for the atrocity he allowed to occur, he's offered a chance at redemption through the kindly teachings of an Irish priest and the unexpected arrival of a royal fugitive. Suddenly thrust into the midst of the Cymry's political turmoil, Leif is reunited with the dead man's daughter-Rhiannon. Forced to work side by side to uncover the truth behind the turmoil, they come to discover that love can grow from even the most tragic of beginnings. But with such incompatible backgrounds, surely a future together can never be theirs.
thoughts & feelings
Sian Ann Bessey has done it again! She has written yet another amazing historical fiction novel. This time she has taken us back to the Kingdom of Gwynedd in 1141. Back to a time when Vikings ruled the seas and plundered unsuspecting churches and homes that lined the coasts.
My favorite part of this novel is the fact that it is based on history! The Kingdom on Gwynedd actually existed and was one of the largest kingdoms in what is now known as Wales. The major plot line in this story is in fact real, with a little creative license thrown into the mix. After you finish the novel make sure to read Sian's authors note to get the full scope of how much of this story was actually factual. I loved the story but knowing how much of it was real made it even better!
I also loved the way Sian painted the story and settings. Let's be honest, my knowledge of Vikings pretty much comes from How to Train Your Dragon. In other words it was nonexistent. I'd never even heard of the Cymry or the Kingdom of Gwynedd. I was so scared that I would be lost on so much but I wasn't. Sian Ann Bessey did an incredible job of painting both groups and describing them in a way that was easy for me to visualize and understand. From the first glance of our Vikings you immediately get the feel of power, stealth, and pride. The Cyrmy have more of a refined feel to them and you can see that although struggles for power still exist, the Monarchy and other titled families are still respected by their subjects.
Sian has even included a wealth of help for us readers who want all the information. At the beginning of the novel she has included a map, family tree, a glossary, and a link to a pronunciation video! I absolutely loved all of these features and feel like they really helped me understand the story better. It was also really fun to hear Sian pronounce all of the unfamiliar words.
These three images come directly from the book.
I also loved how our characters interacted with one another. It was easy to feel the differences between the Vikings and Cymry but also within each of those groups. Sian did a great job painting each of the major relationships as well as how a family or community felt as a whole. One of my favorite parts was hearing that the Vikings were well-known for their silversmithing and were allowed at markets within the Kingdom of Gwynedd to sell their items. I love that these fearsome Norsemen were allowed at markets and created such beautiful pieces of jewelry and weaponry. I may have giggled once or twice at the image of a great fearsome Viking selling a bracelet.
I absolutely loved The Call of the Sea and the amazing story that Sian brought to life. The story truly has something for everyone: Vikings, adventure, royalty, arranged marriages, mystery, romance. So, if you're not sure about this one borrow it from a friend or the library and give it a go. I promise you will love it.
Want to win a print copy of The Call of the Sea? It's your lucky day! Enter the giveaway by visiting the Rafflecopter, at the bottom of this post. Good luck!
Steam Level: clean
Content & Trigger Warnings: hand-to-hand combat, mild violence, death, religious themes throughout
Title: The Call of the Sea
Author: Sian Ann Bessey