Saint Magnus The Last Viking

Saint Magnus The Last Viking - Susan Peek The only other time I have felt this unsettled feeling that I have now was when watching For Greater Glory. Blessed José Sánchez del Río's violent martyrdom had me wishing I could save him, and not sure I should feel that way since he showed such devotion and witness to God at the moment of his death. This book had me feeling the same way. It's difficult because the book was written like a novel, but we were hearing the thoughts (or perceived thoughts) of real people (I really don't know whether to put this on my Catholic Fiction shelf or my Non-Fiction Shelf, so I'm putting it in both, contradictory though that may be.) I was rooting for Magnus the same way that I rooted for Harry Potter or Margo in [b: I Am Margaret|22677852|I Am Margaret (Book 1)|Corinna Turner||41847408]. I wanted him to succeed, and the way that we perceive characters succeeding in novels in if the villain is defeated and there is a relatively happy end. We don't get that with this book. Magnus dies a bloody death and, while Hakon is technically defeated, he repents the way Magnus had been praying for him the entire book, this isn't the kind of defeat that we generally see or expect in a novel. And while Magnus gained the greatest reward that any of us can receive, the bittersweet ending with Thora does not leave us satisfied the way we hope for at the end of a book.

The content of the above paragraph is not the reason that I gave the book four stars instead of five. The loss of the star is owed to the writing style, or rather, the language. I actually really enjoyed Susan Peek's writing style, so it's really unfair to blame it on that, it had a lot more to do with the language she used--the modern words and phrases that jolted me out of the world that was being illustrated, making me search for a better way to phrase things. The most common culprit was the word "alright" which cropped fairly often, and bothered me every time. Don't get me wrong, I neither expect nor want "At the time when the moste triumphant Jarl Thorfinn of Orkney lay upon his anguished deathe bed," but there was once somewhere in the story where Magnus said "very well" and I thought that would have been an acceptable substitute. There were much more obvious bits that bothered me more that 'alright,' though. When Magnus said "Hey, it was four against one! What did you expect me to do, ask them for their autographs, for heaven's sake Aerling, I didn't even have a sword." or on the next page he says, "Just to change the subject." While these bothersome little phrases did stop cropping up as often as the book went on, every time they did they jerked me out of the 1100s and back to 2015.

This was a wonderful book that achieved what Susan Peek said she hoped for in her note in the beginning; I now know who Saint Magnus the Earl of Orkney is, and will ask for his intersession. I would like to read more of Susan Peek's books, and if they are as good as this book, but without the annoying little modernisms, they will certainly get five stars from me.