The Varangian by Bruce MacBain


The Varangian by Bruce MacBain

Publication Date: November 29, 2016
Blank Slate Press
eBook & Print; 341 Pages

Series: Odd Tangle-Hair Saga, Book Three
Genre: Historical Fiction

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The third volume of Odd Tangle-Hair’s Saga finds our hero in Golden Miklagard (Constantinople), posing as an ambassador from the Grand Prince of Rus. But his real mission is to assassinate his former master, Harald the Ruthless, who has now risen high in the Emperor’s Varangian Guard. Odd is dazzled by the brilliance of the Byzantine capital and its beating heart--the Great Palace, with the astonishing Throne of Solomon that levitates above the heads of kneeling courtiers.

Here, Odd will meet Constantine Psellus, an ambitious young bureaucrat who mentors him in the ways of the court. He will be drawn into an intrigue that involves the Empress Zoe, who spends her days brewing vats of perfume, and John the Guardian of Orphans, the powerful and sinister eunuch who schemes to advance his family. And Odd will fall in love with Selene, an alchemist’s daughter, who supports herself by gambling in the waterfront taverns.

Finally, after a hard-fought campaign against the Saracens in Sicily and the overthrow of an Emperor, Odd reaches the pinnacle of power and believes he has vanquished his enemy Harald once and for all.

Then disaster overwhelms him.
My Review:
Copy received from Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours for an honest review
Four Stars
One of the many reasons that I love reviewing books is that I break out my usual genre.” The Varangian" by Bruce MacBain is definitely not the type of read I would normally read.  This is the third book in the ".  Just like the first two other books, I found MacBain a talented author who immediately captured my attention with the setting and time period. Byzantine and Viking are not two groups that I knew about, just like in his previous books MacBain taught many different things that I did not know. 

In his final book on the trilogy, MacBain nicely wraps up the the series. Odd faces many challenges as he comes face to face with Harald.  MacBain was really able to build up the villainous character and it was a moment of satisfaction when Odd is finally about to complete his struggle with him.  This series was a great experience and a great to insight insightful to the 2nd century A.D. 
  

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Praise for The Varangian

"Thoroughly effective at explaining the intriguing and highly complex circumstances of the time period, Macbain’s (The Ice Queen, 2015, etc.) book shines in a way that only historical fiction can. Who needs King Jon Snow in Game of Thrones when one can get a glimpse of the historically real and undeniably sinister John the Guardian of Orphans? Even the most terrifying dragon pales in comparison to the sheer horror of a society so comfortable with castration. As the story ventures outside of Constantinople, the reader is treated to a plot that can only be described as epic … a highly entertaining Viking adventure." - Kirkus Reviews

"This is the third and final of Macbain’s Odd Tangle-Hair novels. All three have been spellbinding in their storytelling, though this one may be the best. Odd’s journey takes us around the Mediterranean and eastern European world, and all the way north back to Iceland. The characters are wonderful, the story intriguing, the combat real but never superfluous, and Odd makes for the perfect protagonist. Highly recommended." - Historical Novel Society

"Written by a historian with deep understanding of the cultures, peoples, and languages of this world, The Varangian speaks with an authoritative and compelling voice that can equally present naval battles decided by Greek Fire and court intrigue culminating in advancement to lucrative rank or in mutilation and blinding. This is a masterfully written and suspenseful tale that weaves fictional characters into the dramatic story of eleventh-century Byzantium and ambitious women and men, some home grown and some drawn from afar, who aimed to profit from an empire of legendary wealth and splendor." - Emily Albu, Professor of Medieval and Byzantine Studies, UC, Davis

"The Varangian is the third and final volume of Bruce Macbain’s Odd Tangle-Hair’s Saga, and like the first two entries, it is as compelling and wild a ride as historical fiction offers. Macbain brilliantly weaves in his vast knowledge of 11th century Viking and Byzantine life with a great storyteller’s ability to drive the plot forward, a plot filled with intrigue, violence, betrayal, and lust." - Barton Kunstler, author of The Hothouse Effect

“Detailed and vivid writing.” -Albert Noyer, author of the Getorius and Arcadia Mysteries

About the Author

03_Bruce MacBainBruce Macbain holds degrees in Classics and Ancient History and was formerly an Assistant Professor of Classics at Boston University. He decided to stop writing scholarly articles (which almost no one read) and turn his expertise to fiction—a much more congenial medium. His previous novels include two mysteries set in ancient Rome (Roman Games, The Bull Slayer) and the first two novels in the Odd Tangle-Hair series (Odin’s Child, The Ice Queen).

For more information, please visit Bruce MacBain's website. You can also find him on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Goodreads.

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, March 20
Kick Off at Passages to the Past

Tuesday, March 21
Review at Rainy Day Reviews

Friday, March 24
Interview at Dianne Ascroft's Blog

Sunday, March 26
Excerpt at T's Stuff

Wednesday, March 29
Guest Post at The Writing Desk

Friday, March 31
Excerpt at What Is That Book About

Tuesday, April 4
Review at Book Nerd

Friday, April 7
Review at Svetlana's Reads and Views

Tuesday, April 11
Review at A Book Geek

Thursday, April 13
Review at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!

Tuesday, April 18
Excerpt at Books, Dreams, Life

Wednesday, April 19
Guest Post at Myths, Legends, Books and Coffee Pots

Thursday, April 27
Review at Broken Teepee

Giveaway

To win a copy of The Varangian by Bruce Macbain, please enter via the Gleam form below. Three copies are up for grabs!

Rules

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– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

The Varangian