Cover Image: The Oath of Bjorn

The Oath of Bjorn

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Member Reviews

A beautifully written love story and a story of survival. Great historical fiction.
Many thanks to HarperCollins UK and to NetGalley for providing me with a galley in exchange for my honest opinion.

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This is an historical novel about a clash of cultures between Norsemen (whose own culture was largely based around clashing with other cultures) and native American “Red Men” (who started without a concept of any culture which behaved in fundamentally different ways to their own). The two cultures had many things in common: family, clan and “tribe” meant pretty much the same things and whilst nationhood meant nothing to the Red Men, it didn’t really register on the Norse list of priorities either: the two Norse leaders (“helmsmen”) in the story may piously hope for some sort of reward from the King of Norway for claiming “Vinland” for him, but at no point does either behave as if the King might hold them accountable for their treacherous and violent conduct in pursuit of his favour. In this lies the explanation for why Norsemen ventured both far (Vinland) and near (Scotland) for people and lands to exploit and conquer: they were far too dangerous to each other to make remaining quietly at home a sustainable lifestyle choice.

The Red Men, though, having no previous experience of men with different measures of honour and, more especially, no respect for creation and straight dealing, suffer very badly for taking the Norsemen on trust in the expectation that they will act in good faith. (Although, part of the trouble is the Norse faith in an afterlife that rewards warriors more than hunters or fishermen.) Once the Red Men understand that they have been cheated and played for fools, their anger is great and so is their determination to punish the Norse, but Norse culture is based on the need to WIN the sort of conflict which Red Men can hardly believe is happening.

The Bjorn of this story has a Norse mother and has been brought up by a Red Man stepfather. This gives him a foot in both camps (there’s a remarkably expressive word in Afrikaans for this, which I decline to use here.) Bjorn spends most of the story attempting the impossible, which is to obey the honour codes of both cultures at the same time, and he’s also struggling against his own inadequacies in that not only is he dwarfed by the human factors which are in conflict: he’s also pretty inconsequential in the face of natural forces which the Red Men have to interact with for so much of their lives that they don’t have much to spare time in which to fight other men.

Only when everything goes wrong and all Bjorn can do is save his own life and that of his wife by doing a deal with the man he hates the most, does he realise that the forces in conflict between nature, Red Men and Norsemen are so great that living long enough to go somewhere else and try something else is not only the best that he can do: it’s the only salvation for any of the protagonists still alive at that point.

This is a good read, but it’s not a quick nor an easy read.

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Bjorn has a lot on his plate he is living and trying to survive in a land that is not his own married to a woman from a different tribe and is warring with her relatives. The only support he gets is from his uncles his own mother doesn’t help matters by being rude to his wife and as it things were bad enough the baby they were waiting on doesn’t survive. Unfortunately this is just the beginning of Bjornes problems this book was so good it is the third book in the series and although I haven’t read the other two I am definitely on board to read the rest. There is so much to Love about this book least of all Bjorn’s in a dialogue around his enemies I know it wasn’t supposed to be in LOL moment but the things he thought especially around Carl Made me laugh. Having said that this is not a humorous book it is about belonging love redemption battles not to mention being up against the horrible weather this was a great book and one I highly recommend a definite five star read for fans A Viking warrior books will definitely love this one. I want to thank Harper UK and Net Galley for my free arc copy please forgive any mistakes as I am blind and dictate my review.

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I had read the first part of this series a couple of years ago. However I'd missed any intervening books and found it almost impossible to catch up. There's a lot to like here but no enough to keep me engaged.

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This was a great third book in the Vinland Viking Saga series, it had everything that I enjoyed from the first two books. The characters felt like they were supposed to and worked in this time-period. Tamara Goranson has a great writing style and created great characters and a great story.

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“Today, all I want is for the jötunn, Skaði – that beautiful winter goddess of the hunt – to guide my hand and lead me to the animals. If I can’t find game, may my traps yield catches to feed my clan. The good people of Leifsbidur will not go hungry on my watch.”

My thanks to HarperCollins One More Chapter for an eARC via NetGalley of ‘The Oath of Bjorn’ by Tamara Goranson.

This is Book 3 in her Vinland Viking Saga series, retellings of the ancient Icelandic texts that chronicle the early settlements of the Vikings in North America circa 1000 AD. Here the story carries on from events in ‘The Flight of Anja’ though the narrative voice changes from Anja to the hunter, Bjorn.

Due to a situation (no spoilers!) that took place towards the end of ‘Flight’, Bjorn and Anja are on the run. They initially find refuge with Logatha, Bjorn’s mother who had featured in ‘The Voyage of Freydis’. On a number of occasions to avoid capture they are forced into the wilderness. At times it made for harrowing reading.

One factor is the increasing tensions between the Vikings and the indigenous Beothuk peoples. Even though Anja and Bjorn both have strong ties to the Beothuk, they find it difficult to stop things from escalating between the communities.

Unfortunately it’s a familiar story with respect to North America. Tamara Goranson writes that her “goal was to give voice to the atrocities and wrongs that occurred as early as the Viking Age.” I feel that she succeeded in this while still presenting a balanced view of Viking society.

Bjorn’s connection to the Beothuk is beautifully stated here: “I was raised by Nashushuk from Grey Owl’s tribe. He showed me the importance of respecting the land, the water, the air and sky. He taught me to revere the Great Spirit.”

In her Author’s Notes Tamara Goranson advises that while Anja and Bjorn are fictional other characters are historical figures. She also included
events that are part of the Vinland sagas. I found this fascinating.

There are various theories about the reasons for the failure of the Viking settlements in North America and Tamara Goranson presents these both as part of her narrative and summaries them in her Notes. She concludes: “This re-telling weaves together all of these reasons. I leave it up to you to consider your own theories with the understanding that I am only one weaver of Viking tales using Old Norse saga threads.”

Overall, I felt that ‘The Oath of Bjorn’ was an excellent conclusion to this outstanding series and I certainly will be looking forward to news of her future writings.

4.5 stars rounded up to 5.

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Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for this book.

Was over the wall excited to read and review this book! The book is part three in the series and can be read as a stand alone, but is better if parts one and two are read first.

The book is told from Anja's protector and lovers point of view.

At first I didn't know if I was going to enjoy the switch in viewpoints, but found it brought more insight and perspective.


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The Oath of Bjorn (Book 3, The Vinland Viking Saga) - Tamara Goranson

I was given a copy of this story by the publisher in order to provide a review.

Tamara Goranson is a clinical psychologist working with trauma survivors and has a great interest in Viking women, especially those who travelled around 1000 AD to the New World.

Anja and Bjorn are trying to settle into their new life at Leifsbidur but things are never easy for Freyisdottir. A Beothuk tribesman is set on revenge for a wrong he believes he suffered at the hands of Anja’s beloved Bjorn. Well, I suppose losing an eye could be seen as a wrong, but this tribesman was trying to take Anja away from Bjorn believing she should stay with her people rather than going with one of the pale faces.

The young lovers soon find themselves indebted to a Viking helmsman by the name of Karlsefni. Yet they soon realise Karlsefni, the way he is and the way he deals with the Beothuk makes things so much worse for the Vikings in Leifsbidur, especially Anja and Bjorn.

But now that Anja is pregnant with their child so now the stakes are higher and if Bjorn wants to retain his honour he must protect his family. So, Bjorn makes an oath to do everything in his power to make sure his family survives this, and they find somewhere safe to call home.

“The Oath of Bjorn” is a Viking romance novel about two young star-crossed lovers trying to make their way through a world going through an unprecedented time in history. It's such an interesting time in history to read about but set with a Romeo and Juliet story is what makes this story an enjoyable read by a talented author. Shows that against insurmountable odd, that the power of love can really give one strength, if one can hold onto that love and strength.

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This saga continues on the shores of Vinland, where Anja and Bjorn settle. Their love is disturbed by a local warrior who seeks revenge. Bjorn must find the best solution to protect the woman he loves. When Karl Karlsefni arrives on one of the Viking ships that survive the journey via Greenland, Bjorn sees an opportunity. Anja, on the other hand, sees danger. She made the escape from Greenland, and it brings the past she tried to escape so badly.

The first two books involve strong female characters, first Anja’s mother, then Anja. Book 3 is told through the eyes of a man who loves Anja, and is her protector. This love story is about two people who care deeply about each other and will do anything to protect each other in surroundings that are tough to endure.

Their story is set against the historical background of two tribes, the Norse and the Beothuk, with their interaction, mistreatment and survival in a harsh climate.

This gripping adventure has a fast pace. The lyrical prose gives dimensions to love which two people eagerly try to protect.

This book could be read as a stand-alone. As the story progresses, it weaves in the backstories of the main characters. I highly recommend the first two books if you enjoy strong female characters, which I missed in this story. As a result, I didn’t feel as strong connection to this story as the previous two.

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