Viking: Odinn’s Child by Tim Severin

odin's child


Our story begins in the year 1001 and the toddler, Thorgils Leiffson, son of Leif the Lucky and Thorgunna, arrives on the shores of Brattahlid in Greenland to be brought up in the foster care of a young woman – Gudrid. Thorgils is a rootless character of quicksilver intelligence and adaptability. He has inherited his mother’s ability of second sight and his destiny lies beyond the imagination of those around him.

Virtually orphaned, he is raised by various mentors, who teach him the ancient ways and warn him of the invasion of the ‘White Christ’ into the land of the ‘Old Gods’. Thorgils is guided by a restless quest for adventure and the wanderlust of his favoured god, Odinn. His fortunes take him into many dangerous situations as well as to the brink of death by execution, in battle, disease and shipwreck . . .


Author: Tim Severin

Publisher: Pan

Release Date: 19/09/2011

Pages: 356

Series: Viking #1

My Chosen Format: Paperback

My Rating for ‘Viking: Odinn’s Child’: 3 out of 5

Purchase: Amazon UKAmazon US



I went into this one with high hopes and, to be honest, those hopes were not met by the content of the book. Maybe I have been spoiled by such Viking novels as the Rise of Sigurd trilogy by Giles Kristian, or practically any author that has a dynamic writing style. Who knows? All I do know is that Tim Severin writes fiction as though he is writing non-fiction. Ponderous, yet interesting, non-fiction

The pace of the novel is very slow. Painfully so in some cases and, even when the exciting stuff happens, he still manages to write at such a pace that it doesn’t feel overly exciting. A battle in this novel feels like a re-telling of something someone saw at a distance rather than up close. 

He does get a lot of the grim, gritty aspects of Norse life down very well and, as a whole, this novel focuses more on people than the tale being told. You learn a lot about day to day life, politics, vast amounts of background of any sort of craftsman or institution that Thorgils comes into contact with etc …

It should be boring and it should make you want to stop and just not bother finishing the book. But it doesn’t. This will most certainly not be remembered as my favourite read, but it was an enjoyable and, more aptly, an interesting read. As I mentioned earlier, it reads very much like documented historical evidence of one man’s life but it’s not as dull as dish water for it. It is strangely appealing and, according to my father (who has read the whole trilogy) ‘The first one is a bit hit or miss but the next two are sh*t hot’. So I’ll certainly carry on with the trilogy at some point.

My main issue with the book is its writing style. It’s fairly bland, frills and artistic, beautifully-written prose are things that happen to other characters, and written by other authors apparently, but the book still has its charms despite that.

My advice to anyone wanting to pick it up is that you should, but you should not go into it like I did; expecting some high-octane, fast-paced romp of a Viking trilogy. Go into it expecting a slow burn, almost travelogue-style stroll through the Nordic world at the turn of the first millennium.

9 thoughts on “Viking: Odinn’s Child by Tim Severin

    1. My dad is a massive fan of the trilogy and assures me book 2 and 3 are way better. I just wasn’t expecting the travel book style of it.

      Have you tried The Rise of Sigurd trilogy by Giles Kristian? That’s one of my favourite trilogies out there.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. The core concept is indeed fascinating and I would have read this book starting with your same kind of expectations, so it’s good to know that it’s a very different kind of story but, at the same time, an intriguing one. Thank you so much for sharing this! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Huh, I’m torn 😉 I think I’ll put this on my TBR but will adjust my expectations accordingly to your warnings. I’ll be looking forward to your review of the next installment and make a decision then!

    Liked by 1 person

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