Sunday, 13 September 2020


5 GOLD stars

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How I discovered this book: Exchanged a few words with the author on Twitter.  Had a look at his bio, clicked on the book.  Looked right up my street, so....

In a Nutshell: 10th century Icelandic historical fiction

I've been lucky lately - this is the third novel I've read in the last month that competes for the title 'favourite book of the year.'  It's a gem, and I loved it.

Smile of the Wolf tells the story of Kjaran, a wandering storyteller, and the consequences of one lonely night when he and his friend, Gunnar, set out to hunt a ghost.  Instead, and unintentionally, they kill a man.  The ensuing feud colours the rest of their lives and those of the people they love.

I'm sure the word 'stark' has been used in many reviews already, but it's the one that comes to mind before any other, for me, in describing this book.  Tim Leach knows 10th Century Iceland - this reads as though he understands every trek across harsh landscape, every gnawing hunger pain in the wastelands of the outlaws, every shred of misplaced bravery in these people's hearts as their lives are ruled not by a king, but by their code of honour, a far more brutal taskmaster.

It's a story of heroes and courage in the face of death, of singlemindedness and the will to live, of love, friendship, gods and ghosts, freedom and survival; I didn't skip a word.  It's terrific - read it.


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