[Review] Riddle of the Runes by Janina Ramirez

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Alva rushes through the trees in the dead of night with her sniffer wolf, Fen. Being out alone when there’s a kidnapper on the loose is reckless, but if she ever wants to be an investigator like her Uncle Magnus, she’ll need to be first to the crime scene. But what Alva discovers raises more questions than it answers, drawing her into a dangerous search for truth, and for treasure.

I’ve been a fan of Dr Janina Ramirez’ work for a long time so when I found out that she was writing a novel, I knew that I just had to read it. Riddle of the Runes is Ramirez’ debut novel and although it is marketed as a children and young adults’ book, let me tell you – it’s a bloody good read for grown-ups, too!

I cracked this delightful little book open on the day it arrived and utterly devoured it within a couple of days. It tells the story of a young lady named Alva who lives in the Viking town of Kilsgard with her mother Brianna, her little brother Ivan, her uncle Magnus and her wolf Fenrir. This young lady has the spirit of a shieldmaiden and a quick mind that makes her a brilliant investigator. And when two outsiders go missing, when she finds a piece of a casket covered in runes, she knows that she has to get to the bottom of the whole mystery before anyone else gets hurt.

This book is wonderfully written in fast paced prose that is both easily understandable to young adults and language that will delight the older reader too. The descriptions of the landscape surrounding Kilsgard is utterly beautiful and you find yourself transported into Alva’s world, living alongside her as she takes on this mystery. I was particularly delighted with the absolutely beautiful illustrations that are dotted throughout the book, too.

Riddle of the Runes is truly a masterpiece of a book and one that will delight both young and old alike. I, for one, can’t wait to read the next one!

Ragnar Lodbrok

Since watching History Channel’s Vikings, I have developed a huge interest in the era and particularly the history surrounding the man that is Ragnar Lothbrok.

ragRagnar Lothbrok, or Ragnar Lodbrok in Old Norse spelling was a legendary Norse war hero and ruler. Most historians believe that he was in fact a work of fiction, The historical accounts of Ragnar largely exist in the Norse sagas and poetry and he is indeed a figure of legend. It is uncertain whether or not Ragnar existed and fathered such legendary figures as Bjorn Ironside and Sigurd Snake-In-The-Eye – whilst these men are historical figures it is unknown whether Ragnar was actually their father.

Whether or not he was a real person, the fact that his tales exist within the sagas is interesting enough and I am glad that Vikings has chosen to portray him in their show. Within both the show and the sagas, Ragnar was married three times. First to the Shield-Maiden Lagertha (portrayed in the show by Katheryn Winnick), Thora Town-Hart and the Princess Aslaug. According to legend, Ragnar eventually became King before being captured by King Aelle of Northumbria and executed by being thrown into a pit of snakes.

Ragnar’s story, whether true or not, is highly interesting and I am hoping to read much more into his ‘life’ when I finally receive the sagas that I have ordered. Keep an eye out for more on this interesting man.