Susan Peek is known for writing historical novels based on the lives of lesser-known saints–and boy, does she bring these characters to life! This is my first novel by Susan Peek, and I look forward to reading more.
Title: St. Magnus, the Last Viking
Author: Susan Peek
Genre: historical fiction
Age group: young adult
Synopsis: In the eleventh century, Magnus Erlendson became the second son to one of the two ruling Jarls of the Orkney Islands (just north of mainland Scotland). Due to the strange change his grandfather made to his will on his death bed, Magnus’s father and uncle are co-rulers of the Orkney Islands, and when they die, Magnus’s older brother and cousin are set to be co-rulers. However, Magnus’s cousin Hakon has other plans for how he’d like to be Jarl, and they don’t include having Magnus’s brother ruling beside him. Magnus, himself, is a brave young man who is also very pious and wants all men to forgive each other their wrongdoings and turn their hearts to God. Can he bring peace to his homeland?
Susan Peek’s tale is a fast-paced thriller that moves from one battle scene to the next. We tend to connect what we read to background knowledge we already have, and since I know little of 11th and 12th century Scottish history, I kept thinking of the movie Braveheart will I read this! However, unlike the Mel Gibson movie, Susan’s main character is a young man who would rather spend his time in prayer than in battle. Nonetheless, Magnus is a brave young man who isn’t afraid to take up his sword when it’s time to defend his family and his homeland–even from attack by own of their own. This is not a “quiet” book of saintly virtues, but rather a deeply engrossing tale of how one might live a life of prayer and penance in the midst of heroic action!