This isn't as good as the others I have read by this author, but I still quite enjoyed it and patiently looking forward to the next one.
Bracelet of Bones is the first in what will be a trilogy.
It is about a journey via water from Norway through to Russia and then into Istanbul, Turkey. Only it was all different back then - Istanbul is known as Miklagard and a tribe called the Rus controlled the part of modern-day Russia where Kiev is found. There was the Byzantium empire and of course the Vikings. It is so different to our modern day understanding of Europe but it must be such an interesting time in history.
I know next to nothing about the Vikings, but I trust Crossley-Holland as a historical fiction author. He is a scholar in ancient languages I believe - and has translated many Anglo-Saxon poems and texts. He has also written a book On Viking stories and Norse myths. He has a clear love for history, a passion which comes across very easily in his novels.
I know a bit more about the Vikings now - but only a bit. I can't say I know much more about their religion or culture as much of this story takes place on a boat and it tells so much more about the melting pot of different people and cultures - none in any great detail. I am curious now to expand my knowledge which in the end is what books for - not always to teach you new things but to give you the curiosity to learn.
However, saying all that I did find this book slightly disappointing. It was enjoyable, but only that. Crossley-Holland poetic, fluid language I usually love felt a little annoying at times. The characters were forever gulping. Or the water was gulping or they were sucking in air between their teeth and blowing it out between their lips. How many times do they have to do this? Nothing much really happened and the characters were half-baked. Interesting, but half-baked.
Solvieg lacks the depth and lovability that Gatty had from Gatty's Tale. She didn't feel quite so real as the characters in his previous books.
The Seeing Stone, the first in the Arthur trilogy had so much life from the first book, whereas in Bracelet of Stones it feels like you're still waiting for the story to start.
The next one will be called Scramasax
which is a type of knife or short sword that cropped up during this story once. A strange sounding word and a funny title for a book. I'll be looking forward to finding out what happens to Solvieg. I imagine the rest of the trilogy will follow the story of Harald Sigurdsson who later becomes the King of Norway and in 1066, invaded England.