Viking Warrior – The Strongbow Saga #1
by Judson Roberts
First and foremost, I really liked this story. I think the author does a really good job as a writer and storyteller, and it seems to be well-edited. I have already bought book 2 of the series, and downloaded it to my Kindle. For that, I give the book 4 stars – it meets my criteria as a book I really enjoy a lot.
Now for the disclaimers, and I’m going to do a little comparison here. I think this will be helpful to anyone who reads my reviews, and might also assuage those who are real fans of the “Cave Bear” series, which was a series I didn’t really enjoy.
This is clearly a book written for males, both adults and young adult. I unashamedly admit I’m a junkie for those sorts of adventure stories. I’m the guy folks write these sorts of stories for. In addition, I have a huge love of historical fiction. This book falls into both categories, so I’ll enjoy even mediocre writing.
That said, Mr. Roberts has clearly written a story that is well above mediocre. Like I said, it’s well-written, well-told, and well-edited. It’s the story of a young slave in Scandinavian culture of 1000 years ago, who rises to warrior status. It’s not overly graphic in its violence, and certainly not graphic sexually. I felt it did a really great job of painting a picture of Scandinavian culture of that era that Mr Roberts appears to have researched well, often dispelling popular myths about said culture. It’s right up the sweet spot of what I love to read about.
I want to use this as a point of comparison to the Cave Bear series that I struggled with. In my review of those books, I admitted that I was probably not the audience – the author seemed to be aiming at women, and in particular adolescent girls. If someone were addicted to genres that targeted that audience in the same way I’m addicted to adventure stories and historical fiction, they probably overlooked a lot just because the story was written for them.
Mr. Roberts has written these stories for me. If you’re not a fan of either historical fiction or adventure stories, you might find many faults that I never noticed – I can’t predict that. If you like either of these genres, I think you’d really enjoy this story.
Now, for some additional information. If you read my blog you know I’m a writer who publishes independently. This means I write what I want and publish it myself. It also means I don’t have a big publishing house providing lots of marketing muscle to get my book out in the market – I depend on loyal fans who love what I write.
There are pros and cons to traditional publishing (big publishing houses and literary agents) vs the independent route I take. One of the big cons to the traditional route is the control the publishing house has over your life, your career, and what it is you write. I’ve already pointed out one of the pros to the publishing house route – a big gorilla pushing your book in the marketplace…
That fact is relevant here. In reading Mr Roberts’ website, it appears that he had a “deal” with a big publishing house to publish the first 3 books in the series, and an option on the fourth book. After 3 books, they apparently sat on the option – preventing him from publishing it – before finally releasing the option recently. This allows him to now publish the 4th book, and it will be interesting to see whether he publishes it independently or through another contract with a publishing house.
I’d certainly encourage him to go independent. He has a great story and a great brand, and it seems to me he could make a good go of this on his own. Of course, here again, I have a bias toward the independent route, due to the freedom it gives an author from both a business perspective and a creative perspective. As writers, we each must decide whether we want the big sales numbers that a publishing house might bring to the table, or the freedom to give what our core audience wants from us.
The key in this is the core audience – the fan base. As independents, we absolutely survive or perish based on the support we receive from you – our core fan base. If you like what we write, we really depend on you to spread the word, to “like” us on Facebook or Google+, to read and comment on our blog, and to recruit other fans who might buy what we have to offer – or at least read what we write.
I’m a new fan of Mr. Roberts. I’ll buy his books, and assuming they stay as good as the first one, I’ll try and get others to read his stuff as he publishes more in the series (assuming he does so independently).