Johanne Hildebrandt’s The Unbroken Line of the Moon

Title: The Unbroken Line of the Moon
Author: Johanna Hildebrandt (translator: Tara F. Chace)
Publisher: Amazon Crossing
Published Date: 1st October 2016
Page Count: 464
ISBN: 978- 1503939080
Price: $10.99
Reviewer: Gwendoline SK Terry (25 May 2019)

In this savage saga of love, war, lust, and magic set in the tenth century, young Sigrid is destined to be the mother of the king of the Nordic lands that would become Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and England.

A devout believer in the old Nordic gods, Sigrid is visited regularly in her dreams by the goddess Freya, who whispers to her of the future. Though Sigrid is beautiful, rich, arrogant, and matchlessly clever, her uncanny ability to foresee the future and manipulate the present guides her through dangerous politics as a bloody war between Vikings and Christians rages on.

Sigrid’s father wants her to marry Erik, a local king, to secure the peace between the Goths and the Swedes. Thinking she is doing Freya’s will, she accepts the marriage offer, only to find that her destiny lies not with Erik but with Sweyn, a warrior who dreams of dethroning Harald Bluetooth, the legendary ruler of Denmark. Will Sigrid sacrifice her will for the greatest Viking kingdom of all time, or will she follow her heart at the risk of losing everything?

Review – may contain spoilers!
Johanne Hildebrandt brings the past to vivid life while weaving mysticism with realism in The Unbroken Line of the Moon, the first novel in her Valhalla series. A gorgeously written historical fiction set in the 10th century, this novel is based on the lives of Sigrid the Haughty, Eric the Victorious and Sweyn Forkbeard.

The battle scenes are intense, the star-crossed love between Sweyn and Sigrid had my heart racing, and most importantly every character felt real. No one is perfect in this book, and I absolutely adore that fact. There is no picture-perfect Prince Charming; the characters are 100% believably historically accurate – the Vikings act like Vikings!

I’ve seen a few reviews complaining about the violence and brutality in this book – calling it “gratuitous and shocking” – but I strongly disagree. I have read far more graphic sex and violent scenes in many other books, and I don’t know how someone could describe Medieval battles in any other way – battles aren’t walks in the park, they are brutal! Hildebrandt’s descriptions of the violence of the time period are completely accurate to the time period; Hildebrandt kept everything superbly realistic.

I dislike stumbling across a review of a Viking book (or any book set in the Medieval times) and seeing complaints about the violence or brutality – pick up a history book, the Medieval period wasn’t sunshine and rainbows, it was bloody and brutal! If you want a happy ending, watch a Disney film. I don’t know how someone could pick up historical/medieval fiction and not want an accurate portrayal of the time period the fiction is set in.

Sorry, rant over.

Hildebrandt writes in such a way that you feel what the main characters feel – you feel Emma’s fear of the priests and nuns, of the fire, and you feel the pain of Kára inside her. You feel as devout to the old gods as Sigrid, you feel her distrust and fear of the Christians, you feel her love for Sweyn, for her children, for her goddess, you feel her sadness when she is betrayed, you feel the magnitude of her visions and the threats Sigrid faces.

This was a powerful novel. It felt as though I was holding my breath the whole time I was reading, not able to release that breath until I’d completed the book. Fascinating, exciting and unique, Johanne Hildebrandt took a tale of old and brought it to vivid life. I can’t wait to buy and read the second in her Valhalla series, Estrid.