Today I am taking part in the Release Day Book Blitz for Windborn by Alex Bradshaw, organised by Storytellers on Tour. Many thanks to Justine and Timy for letting me be a part of this highly enjoyable event! There is an international Giveaway at the end of this post – so please keep reading and be sure to enter!
Windborn by Alex S. Bradshaw
Published: April 28, 2021
Series: Windborn (#1)
Genre: Dark Fantasy
Age Group: Adult
Pages: 558 (Print Length)
Drowning is only the beginning…
Edda Gretasdottir is a raider, a fell-handed shield-maiden, feared along every coast. Hers is a life woven in battle scars.
But she never wanted to walk the warrior’s path. All she wanted was freedom, to earn enough gold to buy her family their own remote farm, and to escape their oppressive chieftain. Now, she has enough plunder so that she can finally hang up her shield and live in peace.
That peace is stolen from Edda, however, when raiders burn her home, destroy all that she loves, and toss her, wounded and bleeding, into the ravenous ocean.
But the fates are cruel and this is not the end for Edda: she rises from the bloody surf as a Windborn, a cursed warrior whose supernatural gifts are a poor exchange for everything she has lost.
Fuelled by rage and armed with strange new powers Edda will hunt for whoever sent the raiders, for whoever is responsible for taking everything from her. She will show them the sharp edge of her axe… or die trying.
Windborn is a dark, character-driven Norse fantasy packed with emotion, deadly foes, and vicious battles.
Get your copy of Windborn now to hear Edda’s epic tale!
I was given an electronic copy of Windborn by Storytellers on Tour in exchange for an honest review, many thanks to Justine, Timy and to Alex S. Bradshaw!
First of all let me say that this is one of my favourite books that I have read so far in 2021. I absolutely loved it and highly recommend it.
Windborn is a Norse inspired fantasy set in a time of oaths, traditions and rituals. A cold, hard time of vengeance, when Saga stories are carved into whalebone arches and doorways and a warrior’s exploits are carved upon their shield. The stark, feudal world in which the story is set is described very well by the author and the beauty of the fjords and the surrounding countryside is easily imagined.
The story is told in first person from Edda Gretasdottir’s point of view. At the beginning of the story, Edda and her husband Bjolfur are raiders during summertime and tenant farmers of a landowner called Dagnur Olafson the rest of the year. They’re hoping to earn enough through raiding to get their own farm and escape from Dagnur’s mean-spirited miserliness.
We are introduced to the Windborn of the title during a raid which Edda and Bjolfur are taking part in for Dagnur. Windborn are warriors who have died and been resurrected by the Winds:
…the gods destroyed the Giants’ bodies and trapped their souls as the Winds. Traders, ignorant of the Winds’ true nature, called them the northern lights and Ertlanders thought them demons and called them the dancing sky fire. Whatever you called them, their power was obvious.
The first Windborn we meet are fearsome warriors with supernatural powers. Dalla Thyrisdottir can move objects with her mind – knives and axes float around her as she walks, whereas Finnr Gellirson the “Sky Treader” can fly. In addition to their specific superpower each Windborn has the strength of five to ten ordinary warriors.
Edda’s husband is lost to a brutal storm on the voyage home and her grief takes over and determines her story arc from that point onwards.
Her grief is described as feeling like a crow inside her rib cage, the feathers get in the way of her throat, while the claws squeeze her heart. There are many instances of black feathers being mentioned inside her, this imagery becomes a kind of theme for her character. Edda is a very likeable character, and through the first person perspective of the novel, we get to know the depths of her grief for her husband and her sheer determination in the face of everything she has lost. She is a kind and loyal, supportive friend and a brave and relentless warrior.
Edda takes a runestone down to the cliffs in order to throw it into the ocean and make Bjolfur one of the “Blessed drowned”. Before she can do so she discovers a band of Wind-hunters, raiders who kill in the hopes of making new Windborn warriors to serve their master, King Hraki. They overpower Edda and toss her over the cliffs before burning down her house. The throw from the cliffs kills Edda, and soon after she is resurrected as an ice-wielding badass Windborn warrior. She wants to hide this information from everyone especially Dagnur:
If he found out that I was Windborn then I would become another prize to be paraded in front of his peers. He wouldn’t waste me herding chickens. I would become a tool to him, nothing more.
There is a heartwarmingly loyal friendship between the shield sisters Fjola and Edda – Fjola accompanies Edda to the Althing to appeal against Dagnur’s decision that she not get Bjolfur’s share of the hoard from the raid he died in. She also doesn’t think she should have to pay to rebuild her house which was destroyed by the Wind-hunters. At the Althing, Fjola discovers Edda’s Windborn status when Edda fights Soren, the Windborn who kicked her off the cliff. Edda wins but has drawn attention to her powers. They await the law keeper from their village, Ingvar, to help Edda make her case before the High King.
Meanwhile, a Windborn who can fly, Runar, falls from the sky, exhausted from fighting King Hraki’s band of Windborn, who have attacked King Erling’s land out of season, which is unlawful. Windborn cannot earn anything or own anything – they are legally dead. They need to be sworn to a household and for the lord to give them the things they need. Edda decides she would like to return to King Erling’s land with Katja, King Erling’s law-keeper and Runar, since they have the shared goal of fighting Hraki and bringing him to justice. However the High King must approve this decision.
I played the last few weeks over in my mind and an involuntary growl escaped me. Over and over again one name flickered in the shadows like a shark following a trail of blood. It had been whispered at the cliff edge. It had been muttered at the edge of the arena. It had been shouted in desperation by a law-keeper. Hraki.
A highly tense scene with the High King unfolds, while he decides whether to execute Edda; send her back to Dagnur’s household to act as his muscle; send her to work in the mines or make her an outlaw. She has Katja the law-keeper on her side, pleading with the High King to let Edda be sworn to King Erling’s household, but the High King is well known for his hatred of Windborn.
There are numerous exciting, well-written, edge-of-seat fight scenes between these over-powered warriors, each with different, amazing gifts from the Winds. It was fun to guess what the new set of powers would be whenever Edda encountered a Windborn she had not previously met or heard of. The Windborn reminded me somewhat of X-men in this respect.
Since her resurrection, Edda has been hell-bent on avenging her husband’s death, her own death and the razing to the ground of her house. Thoughts of making her murderer pay are all that drive her. Vengeance has driven her entire being since becoming a Windborn. Can she catch up to King Hraki and make him pay? What will happen to her if she does? The High King’s hatred of Windborn is well-known and he is unlikely to tolerate such actions.
Hraki was why I had lost everything. He was the reason Orin’s storm had killed my husband. He was the reason that Soren had killed me. He was the reason I was Windborn and lost my home, my hoard, my dreams. He had even taken my revenge from me when he gave me Soren’s head. And now he was marching on Erling’s pitiful blockade with a household full of Windborn.
I found the ending quite a surprise as it required a character to completely change their opinion, and lose their prejudice, which I was not really convinced would happen with this character. Apart from that small niggle I thoroughly enjoyed Windborn and would recommend it to anyone who likes Norse fantasy and well-written battle scenes, with some supernatural flavour added by the Windborn superpowers. The battle scenes are gory, but not gratuitously so. There is also a description of a nasty execution near the end, but if those types of things do not make you squeamish I would heartily recommend this book.
Add Windborn to your To Be Read list here:
Buy Windborn here:
Apple Books: https://books.apple.com/us/book/id1557543647
The International Giveaway
GRAND PRIZE: One (1) paperback copy of Windborn by Alex S. Bradshaw
RUNNERS-UP: One (1) of three (3) ebook copies of Windborn by Alex S. Bradshaw
Starts: April 28th, 2021 at 12:00am EST
Ends: May 1st, 2021 at 11:59pm EST
Click here to enter or on the banner below:
About the Author
Alex S. Bradshaw grew up in Kent in the UK and spent much of his childhood hiding (sometimes under tables) and reading a book.
He has always been a fan of epic stories (as well as dinosaurs and cake) so it came as no surprise to anyone that he went on to study Classics and Ancient History at university.
Now Alex works in publishing and has turned his hand to making epic stories of his own.