Cover Image: Jilliand


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Member Reviews

I enjoyed this historical story about Jilliand, an English princess who rises above an abusive childhood to become the author of her own fate. However, the pacing of the story was extremely slow, with a lot of action and backstory being told rather shown. There was a lot of skipping around time and places without explanation that made it confusing. However, I think with some more editing, this could be a really gripping historical epic.
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A romance story without glamorizing the love affair; only realistic depiction of mid-9th century and how its people viewed life and death in general, depended on strong support system, lived life at sea, treated women—noble or otherwise—and lived through the tremulous times of violence and Viking raids. It has been a while since I last read a good Viking story, and boy, am I glad I’ve come across this one. Jilliand is worth spending my time on.
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I requested this book on NetGalley after seeing the cover. I'm a sucker for historical fiction, especially if it features Vikings and their adventures of raiding the coast of England. I binge-watched The Last Kingdom recently, and as I am eagerly awaiting the next season, I thought this book would be a welcome read to draw me back into that world.
We follow Jilliand from her beginning as a neglected and abused child at the hands of her miserable father through her capture by a Viking sea king and her life beyond. The book is split into three parts and I thoroughly enjoyed Part I. In it we meet Rurik, Jilliand's captor and eventual mate. The chemistry between them is slow-building and very well written. Claire Gutierrez does a wonderful job in painting a beautiful setting of the divided country of England, the vast seas,  and Rurik's homeland of Denmark. Parts II and III follow both Jilliand and Rurik as their lives take separate paths, eventually leading to a highly awaited happy ending. 
Although well written, I found issues with the changing POV within the story. It was confusing at times, switching between characters without context or purpose. Not much was made of dramatic scenes or turn of events, keeping the feeling of the book rather steady and anticlimactic. Several years are skipped in Parts II and III, and it seemed, at least to me, that more time was accounted for in the passing of Rurik's life than Jilliand's. It did not seem as though over a decade had passed once she returned to England.  Also, the secondary characters are not very well-developed. They are used solely to progress the story of Jilliand and Rurik, and little background or additional information outside their interactions with the two main characters is included. 
Even with these flaws, I did enjoy the story. Jilliand was a strong female protagonist who carried on through every twist and turn of her life, never relying on anyone but herself.  The author took the time to research the era and adopt the beliefs and mannerisms of the cultures into her characters. Although fictional, the author pulled heavily from true events of the past and real people of the time. 
Overall, my true rating is a 3.75/5; highly recommended for readers of historical fiction, Vikings fans, or those who love a romance story of fate intervening. 

*I received and ARC from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.
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The cover is utterly gorgeous and the setting takes place during one of my favorite periods of history - so I was quite excited to read this one. While I liked the main characters and think that the author managed to paint a vivid picture of the historical setting, the overall plot was rather slow and it took me quite a bit to get into it. Still solid, I'd say.
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style that felt a bit distant and made it harder to connect to the story. Also, I felt there were sudden changes between scenes and POV that either didn’t feel natural or simply didn’t connect with each other. More than once I found myself wondering suddenly what was happening, where they were or who the story was talking about… Not a good sign. This also happened more than once with sudden changes between a first and third person POV, although those might be solved in the final version. Still, these incoherences made it hard to concentrate on the story and slowed down the pace. I also felt the characters lacked some dept, and I was kept wanting for more when it comes to background and general character information. That said, it does show the author has investigated the time period and I realize it is hard to get solid information of a period there isn't all that much 'neutral' information available of in the first place. The story follows two main characters in particular over a large span of time. While it was interesting to see the changes in both character and environment, I also thought there were almost too many things happening in the amount of pages available. This is probably why I felt a lack of dept as a consequence; long periods were sometimes skipped and other scenes were not as detailed as I would have liked. Still, Jilliand is quite an interesting read set in a time period that hasn't been written about that frequently. It's a story of survival, (forbidden) love, vikings, war and plundering... And although the ending came a bit sudden, I bet most will be able to appreciate it.
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