23.9.14

BEGUILED, by Alice Borchardt

First, I wish to make it clear that I have no beef with the late Alice Borchardt, and I am not looking for one. I know that her sister, Anne (Rice) sometimes takes criticism very personally, and this could be one of those going postal situations. To be honest, despite its many good qualities (which I'll get to shortly, so hang in there), I could not force myself to finish this grueling historic-fantasy book. The book deals with a power struggle - a war - between invading-to-colonize Vikings and the indigenous population of coastal France. Magic abounds, powerful women pit themselves against each other (nice touch), as do powerful, bloodthirsty men. Click below for more...
Well, one man: the ruthless Viking chief Hakon, who has taken the widow of his dead rival to wife (she loves it) and vows to subdue the region to his will. Pitted against him is Owen and his Forest People-wife Elin. The challenges Own face mount and mount, nothing goes right, everything conceivable goes wrong, there's no space to take a decent breath before another earth-shattering apocalypse occurs, even things that never should have happened go pear-shaped, everyone betrays everyone and everything, Hakon has all the cards...and I said no, can't put myself through any more of these contrived catastrophes.
"Relentless" says Kirkus Reviews, and that's my problem. It's too relentless. At some point the challenges Owen faces become ludicrous, there's just too many. It's like the author said, well, let's see how many earth-shattering setbacks I can cram into one book. Waaay too many.
I'll make it a 3. Faint praise for this well-reviewed book. Sorry, Alice. It's just not for me.