Legend of the Last Vikings - Taklamakan
FINALIST - FOREWORD MAGAZINE BOOK OF THE YEAR!
A Viking Saga. Action and adventure at the end of the Viking age from Norway across the European Steppe, along the Silk Route into China's notorious Taklamakan desert. The desert so called by locals because those who venture in seldom venture out. Experience ancient peoples, cultures, lost tribes and hidden kingdoms. As well as mystery, action, adventure, love, lust, greed, comradeship and betrayal. Just what one would expect in a Viking Saga. As the Viking age is brought to an end in 1066 with ignominious defeat at the battle of Stamford Bridge, a rag-tag group of Vikings conclude the quiet life is not for them and they decide to go-a-Viking one last time. Retracing a journey of their youth across the European Steppe and down the mighty Dniepr river heading for Byzantium. Enroute a chance discovery in a Kiev library leads them to venture even further afield - to Astrakhan, across the Caspian sea, up the mighty Oxus river, through Parthia and Bactria and along the ancient Silk Route into Asia and Tian Xia (China). Engaged in a battle not of their choosing, they inflict fatalities on the sinister and evil Black Scorpions who want to exact their revenge. Escaping entrapment in a cave, pursued, they flee by night across the Roof of the World and meet the remnants of the "lost" European tribe of Asia, the Hepthalites, who offer them protection in their city, hidden in the Tien Shan - the Celestial Mountains. A place where romance is kindled and love unexpectedly blossoms. During their winter sojourn in the Hidden City they gather more clues, and in the spring continue with their quest, on into the Taklamakan desert. The desert so called by locals because those who venture in seldom venture out. More danger and peril lies in wait for this rag-tag Viking crew as they travel along the Silk Route, the world's first super-highway. At the eastern end of their journey they meet the Lang Ren, the Wolf people of Lou Lan, outcasts thieves and criminals living in an abandoned city in the desert. A city without water. A city about to die. A city in which the final clue to their quest is uncovered. What fate awaits this motly crew and what fate awaits the Lang Ren, a rejected element of Asian society?
What people are saying - Write a review
This is a wonderful blend of fact and fiction, putting flesh on the dry bones of history, demonstrating the insatiable restless human desire for discovery, adventure and the pursuit of knowledge.
Be drawn into a classic sojourn which spans many religions and beliefs and incorporates the ingredients of friendship, dignity, honour, love, betrayal and greed; against the backdrop of a hostile environment which gives no quarter – just what one expects from a Viking.
An intellectual read, leaving the door open with a promise of more to come … Riveting stuff!
EXCELLENT! The book tells a story that captures the reader on several levels. What appears to be an historical novel becomes an adventure set in a background of rich experiences and wide diversity. This adventure, alongside the stories of the different settlements and religions, and that of a moving
love story, means that this book provides a compelling and exciting journey of discovery for both the characters in the book and the reader themselves.
An adventure which skilfully combines history and fiction into a page-turner. A wonderful story.
Excellent treatment of an Old Subject
Quick! What come to mind when you see the word Viking - hairy men leaping from long boats, sacking monasteries and pillaging English towns? You might even remember the 1958 Kirk Douglas/Tony Curtis movie, The Vikings, which put those images indelibly in my memory.
Those are not John Halsted's Vikings but that's not to say that the story is less entertaining. To the contrary, it has battles, thrilling escapes, hidden cities, likable characters, wonderful descriptions of distant lands, history woven into the narrative, and romance. You can't ask for more than that.
Before discussing the story, let's look at the book itself. I unwrapped it at at the mailbox and stopped in my tracks to look it over. It wasn't what I expected. It is 7 inches high (18 centimeters if you are a cataloguer or not from the U.S.) by four and a quarter inches wide, much smaller than the typical hardcover. It may seem an odd thing to remark on, but there is a satisfying heft to the book and it is easy to carry around, fitting nicely in a pocket in my windbreaker. The dust jacket is very attractive with a Viking helmet superimposed on a relief map of the area travelled by the characters. The drawing of the helmet (no horns, thank you very much) is very well executed. The paper is smooth and heavier than typical. It took me a while to realize what is was about the paper that gave me pause. More than fifty years ago I received (and still have) a British edition of The Jungle Book and the pages have the same feel. I got a feeling of nostalgia just holding this book. A segment of the route map is faintly printed on the top corner of each page. As someone who loves the printed book, I appreciate the care and detail that went into producing Legend of the Last Vikings.
Legend of the Last Vikings: Taklamakan is set at the end of the Viking period after King Harald Hardrada of Norway was killed at the Battle of Stamford Bridge in 1066 in an attempt to conquer England. The survivors were allowed to leave England after promising never to attack England again. Ulf Uspakson, adviser to Harald, decides to go A-Viking one last time and is joined by a select group of comrades. Their goal is to find the resting place of the Swedish Viking Ingvar Vittfarne who left to explore to the East, around the Caspian Sea and into Asia.
They find clues to their quest in the library of Kyiv (Kiev, the capital of the Ukraine) where their research is aided by an Arab prince and scholar, Ibn Rashid al-Arslan who has knowledge of the lands and peoples where they need to travel. They begin their journey in earnest at Kiev, heading south to the Black Sea then east into the Caspian Sea. Ibn joins them in the expedition, tutoring them in Arabic, and explaining the customs of the people they will encounter. They travel