A young man whose life was far from exciting and who most people really did not connect with. Michael sort of existed but in his own private world. What happens when he falls into a boat, gets dragged back in time and finds himself living the life of someone who was born centuries before him. What would you do if you now were housed in the body of a Viking and you learn that your life will no longer be free or your own? Matok is his new name and identity and just who this man is will change Michael’s life and how he survives. Dangerous, gone for a while and returning now he will learn the history of this man, just who they claim his mother is and his ancestors as Michael must find a way back to his real world.
The Vikings are on a mission to save the daughter of the chieftain who was kidnapped. The spirit of Michael’s dead sister comes to life and you wonder if she drew him there and has a message for him in this world. What is the link? As time goes by he realizes that there might be a link between his world and hers and dealing with dangerous battles, natives that thrive on war, shapeshifting demons and his past will Michael survive?
Finding himself in a world filled with so many different tribes and people will he survive. Mi’kmag shaman’s daughter Kiona comes into light and her deceitful mother whose words and actions take aim at him and so many others including her own daughter. His sister Gabby was taken, and her vision comes out to explain why he was there4 and his role. He has been drawn back in time, placed inside the body of a Viking and being led by the spirit of his dead twin sister, to recuse his Viking sister. Halfdan is one man that he must deal with, Tryfing becomes his confidant and friend hoping that he will find his way back to his own world. The Abenaki is the tribe that he needs to defend and protect and Halfdan is one who uses Marr as his interpreter, but loyalties are not precious and survival of the fittest is. The witch is a primary factor and decides if someone has an evil spirit. Mi’kmag’s village is where they are directed to go on the witch turned to her people and waved her stick about to control them. His sister’s vision comes back, and she is trying to guide his actions and path, but he does not always understand what she is trying to say. “Brother all life has meaning. It is we who deem it insignificant. And if life has meaning, so much death? Did my death have meaning?” Answering by replying that she was his world. With her life had meaning. When she left there was only a child like the fire that had burned out he replied. The author continues through Gabby to explain that there is a battle raging. He needs to choose a side trying to understand her words and what she is trying to impart to him.
Dealing with the old woman was not easy and his role to rescue the chieftain’s daughter was why he was there and his role in trying to save Astrid. He is made aware that a powerful shaman protected him, and her spirits blinded him.
In chapter 15 we meet Astride and learn more about her captivity and the risks that will be taken to free her. Why do they believe that he is a great Shaman? Who wants to pay him for his blessing?
Kiona is smart and yet under the thumb of a cruel mother who does not hesitate to use cruel punishments when she sees fit. Astrid was at the core of what was about to happen and Kiona saw her and thought her to be the spirit of Sacred Fire, visiting her vision. Kiona realized she was real and because of the chief, and Mother she thought Astrid would be less threatening. This book deals with preexisting perceptions of the different tribes, the classes of each group, the Vestmen, the Hunters, the Rangers and more each one having a different role and power. Her mother has worn a shaman mask the entire time, searching for evil spirits among them and finding none. Different young men come into play such as Huritt and her younger brother who wants to be brave and not thought of as a little kid. Astrid and Kiona seem to have formed a friendship but will Kiona help save her. The Vestmen, like the Mi’kmaq held a passion for stories. But Astrid’s environment lets the reader know that she learned from the Mi’lmaq traditions while living with them. She would learn from Kiona that she could take what was meant to be a curse and turn it into a blessing. But someone was threatened and sent to find Michael, and this was Stryker who could take the shape of anything but chose a panther thinking that no one or anything would try and stop him or hurt him. He is goal was to find him but them when facing Slaughter whose purpose changed and he had to follow his direction or pay the ultimate price.
There are many rituals that are brought out int this novel and one is the Three Truths that ensured not only the strength of the tribe, but the Abenaki and so many others. All peoples they stated are connected in the spirit realm. Even Kiona learned that from her mother and these trees beliefs-maintained peace among their society. We meet the Abenaki chief and we learn more about Halfdan and why he seems to be at the heart of much that happens. The chief and followed as Halfdan looked at Michael and stated that he was to get ready for whatever was going to happen. Marr was brave and would sacrifice himself Halfdan claimed they had a deal, but the chief was unyielding and stated a blood payment was due and it was the law. Who would be sacrificed to save others? Haldan reminded Marr he was his property and yet Marr did the unthinkable. But his death was not the end they wanted more.
Stryker was on the prowl and the author describes where he is using scents, visual descriptions that will make your blood curdle. He wanted to know why the Vestmen’s were so far south and he knew that Ernick had sent him on task that seemed simple and yet those rancid, walking corpses had shown up with an enemy among them. Was he being set up and he would pay a heavy price if he failed in his mission?
The scenes with Slaughter and Stryker as so vividly described you can feel the anger, the fear and the fate of his victim as he plunged his fingers through Stryker’s shoulders before he had a chance to react or flinch.
Lies, betrayals, truths and Gabby related more about his past, why he was brought back but will he understand what she is trying to convey? Nabid is Kiona’s little brother and falls prey to their mother’s discipline too. Astrid is smart and Kiona coves for her and the two must find a way to set her free, but will Michael be able to help them? Chapter 20 is the catalyst for what happens next as his dead sister’s spirits was running next to him and remined him of the smell of maple sap in a duck blind when he was a child, and the world was not the same. The warriors struck the fight is on and which side would survive and how many bodies will fall? There are many who want to take him out, he might even lose a limb if she is not careful. Lives are expendable, Spear-face comes into the scene and just what is his role? Asked why he wants to help free Astrid and just how was the spirit of his dead sister leading him and in which direction? Kiona was the daughter of the Mi’kmaq shaman that would make Spear-face her grandfather and the Abenaki shaman her aunt. As the pieces of the puzzle fit together and the dangers mount up will Kiona manage to save Astrid and what is Michael’s final fate? An ending that has many twist, surprises and revelations into his own character that he might never forget. Does he ever return home? If he does will he revisit the past again? Join Michael and meet the Vikings, the different foes and learn their customs as you too might become part of the VESTMENS’ GALE. Told in many voices with tension filled and violent scenes that will dare you to want to read more author David McCaleb has raised the bar with a novel filled with history and suspense.
Fran Lewis: Just reviews