Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Eric Brighteyes 2: A Witch's Welcome by Sigfridur Skaldaspillir

Eric Brighteyes 2
A Witch's Welcome
by Sigfridur Skaldaspillir (Mildred Downey Broxon)
1979 Zebra

The original Eric Brighteyes by H. Rider Haggard was published in 1891. This is more of remake than a sequel, and not much room to make this a series given that Brighteyes is born and dies in this Viking saga. 

Brighteyes is banished for a couple years from Iceland and does Viking stuff around the British Isles. Swanhild the witch is obsessed with him, and her manipulations lead to both their downfalls. In true saga form, most of the story is in broad summary, with some battles being wrapped up in a sentence. The more "real time" the story the better, but things speed up again towards the end making the conclusion feel like an epilogue. As this is someone's life story, not much in the way of a plot, just Eric going from place to place.

I've seen this described as the story from Swanhild's perspective, and while I haven't read the original to compare, most of the story focuses on Eric. I half expected some revisionist version, like the way Grendel was from the perspective of the monster, but not so much.

The book stands on weird moral grounds. While Eric seems to have some modern ideals (no killing monks, sees dishonor in attacking the weak) he's still a psychopathic serial rapist slaver. This is historical fiction and these are Vikings, after all, and most of the book is written without judgment. This is olden times and this is a story of horrible people doing horrible things to each other. However, there are parts that imply that Eric is supposed to be a honorable hero, and the ending definitely makes Swanhild out to be a villain deserving of being dragged to Hel at the end.

The ending plays sadly tragic for Eric, but it's hard to feel any sympathy. Can't get too outraged that he was framed for that one rape he didn't do. Morals aside, some occasional good battle sequences and historical details, but I didn't dig the narrative structure.

Paperback from Amazon

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