So I must confess at first I wasn't going to write up this book. The reason I read it in the first place is that I was at a used book store, couldn't decide what to get, and spun around in a circle with my arm out. I stopped on Swords from the North and it was only two bucks, so I figured why not. I read it mostly on the metro and it was an interesting enough story for the first half, but kinda started to trail off toward the end. But the last five pages were so hilarious that I figured I had to share with y'all. I'm going to assume no one is actually going to read this book, so I'm going to go ahead and give away the ending. You've been warned.
Swords from the North chronicles the adventures of Harald and his gang of Norwegian mercenaries working for various emperors and empresses in Constantinople. In the first half of the book Harald is strong, just, witty and clever. He makes an agreement with the emperor and he and his band of slightly less strong, just, witty and clever northerners join the security forces. Eventually they ship out on some mission that I'm too lazy to look up and eventually Harald pisses off the general of the forces (who is stupid and petty) so much that one of them peaces out. I think it was Harald because objected to some stupid and petty thing that the other general was doing. Eventually Harald gets back to Constantinople and learns that the other general has been talking mad shit about Harald and run off to Italy, so Harald goes off to destroy him. It's about this time that Harald starts to slip and isn't quite as badass as he used to be, eventually becoming a total prick (until the ghost of his saintly brother comes and reads him the riot act). Then he goes back to being better, but still not as cool as his old self. Eventually we learn that the other general's forces have been destroyed and he's wandered off in exile somewhere, so Harald never gets his revenge. After awhile Harald and his merry men go back to Constantinople, where the empress arrests him and orders him and his top lieutenants maimed for all the atrocities they committed during the Harald-is-a-prick phase. The night before they're about to be tortured, they are rescued and peace the hell out, setting sail to go back north.
So throughout the book there was a secondary plot line with Harald and this Greek princess, Maria something or other. He met her at the beginning when she was little and was the only person to ever be kind to her. She pined for him while he was away and was mistreated by her elders, eventually being traded as a wife to some caliph in Egypt. Well, when she's en route she runs into Harald (in his post-prick phase) and he rescues her. She's the one who has him rescued right before his torment and he brings her with him when he and his gang go north. So that's the first 195 or so pages of this 200 page book. During the last five pages, Harald is mourning because some of his men were killed in the escape and Maria comes to him and tells him that he has to be strong if he's going to be a king, and that when she's his queen she'll help him become a better king. It's at this point that Harald says, (and I paraphrase) "Ummmm, I'm betrothed to some other Norwegian chick. Yeah, we're going to get married as soon as I get back. I told you this when we first met." She freaks out and he lets her off at the next port with enough gold and treasure to get her back to Constantinople. The end.
I started laughing out loud. They set up this romance, at least in the background, for the whole book, then in the last pages when they're about to ride off in the sunset the author's like PSYCH! It was great. I was amused.
And with that I'm done with the trashy stuff for awhile. Back to some serious books.
(also, I couldn't find a picture of the book cover, so I went with this badass viking instead).