Review: Raven Lord by JC Duncan

Today, I'm delighted to share my review of JC Duncan's Raven Lord, the second novel in his gripping adventure series about Harald Hardrada, whom many merely remember as dying at Stamford Bridge when trying to take the English throne. But there's so much more to the warrior, and JC Duncan has mapped out his fascinating life in this exciting series. Have a look!

Raven Lord is currently on blog tour with Rachel's Random Resources. My thanks to Rachel, and Boldwood Books, for a copy.


Raven Lord

JC Duncan

Raven Lord begins where the first book in the series, Warrior Prince, ended, with Harald and his group of men seeking new adventures. The narrative style remains the same, so we can hear about Harald's exploits through Eric, his trusted man.

Harald and his men head for the famed city of Miklagard, commonly known as Constantinople, capital of the Eastern Roman Empire, to offer their services in the Varangian guard (a guard made up of Norse mercenaries protecting the imperial family). But if Harald thought politics in the Kyivan Rus were tiring, the imperial household in Constantinople could beat any of his expectations.

As Emperor Michael and Empress Zoe manage to endanger their fragile empire with their conflicting plots, Harald and his men – told through the eyes of his trusty sidekick, Eric (like in Warrior Prince), must do their utmost to defend the vast territory against enemies. But he can do little to defend himself from the guiles of a Byzantine noblewoman, Maria, and this proves to be his weak spot that leads him, and others, into danger.

Still a young man of barely 20, Harald is already a seasoned warrior and mercenary, and his actions and attitude reflect this. His isn't an easy life in a safe castle, but rather full of dangers, intrigues, and fighting. He's not a 'nice' man as such, yet he does have a sense of personal loyalty and fairness. But he hides it well...


Set in the world of medieval political plots and with a constant, underlying sense of lurking danger, Raven Lord shows us how empires could continue to prosper – or threaten to fall – in the blink of an eye.

The background and setting are extremely well-researched, and the political 'games of thrones' are thoroughly explored. The author portrays Harald Hardrada as a hardened warrior that he obviously was, and there is little in terms of subtlety in the story. But that suits the plot well, for those political movers and shakers don't hold back. 

I found this a fascinating glimpse into an area not often enough featured in historical fiction. The Byzantine Empire was remarkable, both in its vast lands, and in its squabbling imperial families, where no one thinks twice about murder to further their own cause. It makes for highly entertaining, and utterly gripping, reading.

I'm looking forward to reading the next book about Harald's adventures before he meets his end at Stamford Bridge in 1066.



Mercenary. Exile. Warlord.

At the edge of the world, the clouds of war are gathering…


Cast out from the Kyivan Rus, Harald Sigurdsson’s quest for fame and fortune takes him to the far reaches of Europe; the lands of the Eastern Roman empire.

The empire is dying the slow death of decay and corruption. In desperation to fend off a myriad of foes, the emperor turns to the legendary Varangian guard for salvation. These deadly warriors from the far north, famed for their fearsome steel and battle skill, have become the empire's greatest protectors.

From the golden gate of Constantinople to the holy waters of the river Jordan, Harald will march with the emperor's finest. Joining their ranks promises him all the gold and glory he can desire, if only he can survive the desperate battles, the hostile land, and the ruthless ambition of a vengeful queen.

The fascinating next book in the extraordinary tale of Harald Hardrada.
Perfect for fans of Matthew Harffy, Peter Gibbons, Bernard Cornwell and Christian Cameron

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About the Author:

JC Duncan

James has a 5 book historical fiction series 'The Last Viking' about the extraordinary life of Harald Hardrada being published with Boldwood books starting with 'Warrior Prince'. When he isn't writing or doing his full-time engineering job, James is happiest being an amateur bladesmith, forging knives in the shed he built in his garden.


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