The Golden Wolf

The Golden Wolf

The fates of Ragnvald and his sister Svanhild unfold to their stunning conclusion in this riveting final volume in The Golden Wolf Saga, a trilogy that conjures the ancient world with the gripping detail, thrilling action, and vivid historical elements of Game of Thrones and Outlander.Ragnvald has long held to his vision of King Harald as a golden wolf who will bring peace...

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Title:The Golden Wolf
Author:Linnea Hartsuyker
Rating:
Edition Language:English

The Golden Wolf Reviews

  • Tiff (fictionaltiff)

    The Golden Wolf is the final book in The Half-Drowned King trilogy, and I can officially say the entire trilogy is fantastic! It’s a new favorite of mine, and I’m going to force all of my friends to read it now.

    This trilogy retells the Viking-age history of Norway. King Harald and his greatest and closest advisor, Ragnvald, are securing his kingdom: defeating anyone who opposes the crown and making alliances where they can. Ragnvald is sworn to serve Harald and will sacrifice everything to keep

    The Golden Wolf is the final book in The Half-Drowned King trilogy, and I can officially say the entire trilogy is fantastic! It’s a new favorite of mine, and I’m going to force all of my friends to read it now.

    This trilogy retells the Viking-age history of Norway. King Harald and his greatest and closest advisor, Ragnvald, are securing his kingdom: defeating anyone who opposes the crown and making alliances where they can. Ragnvald is sworn to serve Harald and will sacrifice everything to keep Harald in power. Ragnvald and Harald rise to be these great legends in history, and the reader sees all it takes to get to the spotlight and how it affects the people who support and oppose them.

    There’s so much to be said about this trilogy and why it is now a favorite of mine, but what it really comes down to is the author’s ability to tie me into these families, connecting me to all of the characters’ perspectives, and through that, leaving the reader with life lessons and new thoughts about the journey of life.

    I specifically loved the power of women these novels conveyed. Women who take hold of their destiny amidst being mothers, warriors, and healers. Women who are often forced to play their parts in the background of battles, but still have the full power to change the course of the future by their actions.

    These books have it all. Love and betrayal. The glory of battle and the the loss it brings. People who trust the gods and people who only trust themselves. And so on.

    I loved it and would reread them again. I’m now craving more adventure and need some more books on Norse mythology in my life. Obviously, I’m a big fan over here

  • Amy Imogene Reads

    I am....so conflicted. This was a superb novel. It was well done and I loved reading it. But I did not like some pretty big things. (This review is long, sorry not sorry).

    So first off, this is the third in the trilogy and filled with spoilers from the first novel,

    , and the sequel,

    . Please stop and read the reviews for those two before reading ahead if you don't want soft spoilers

    I am....so conflicted. This was a superb novel. It was well done and I loved reading it. But I did not like some pretty big things. (This review is long, sorry not sorry).

    ★★★★★

    ★★★★★

    ★★★★★

    ★★

    So first off, this is the third in the trilogy and filled with spoilers from the first novel,

    , and the sequel,

    . Please stop and read the reviews for those two before reading ahead if you don't want soft spoilers from them!

    Ok, they're gone right? Good.

    In

    , brother and sister power duo Ragnvald and Svanhild come of age on the brink of Norway's attempt at a monarchy. Ragnvald sees a vision of the future king, Harald, as a golden wolf that unites and burns everything he touches. Ragnvald sees himself with the wolf, and is told that his fate is twined with Harald until his dying day. Svanhild's life is less fated, but she falls in love with Harald's enemy, the sea-king Solvi, and sets herself against Ragnvald in this epic game of thrones. The sequel,

    , sees more drama, Svanhild dramatically switching sides, and Ragnvald's pigheadedness rising to the top (

    ).

    begins roughly 15 years after the events of

    .

    . Harald's numerous sons are all vying for power and suspicious of Ragnvald's influence, and Ragnvald is finding himself at the helm of a country covered in the golden wolf's wolfish children.

    One of the most interesting aspects of

    was its focus on inter-generational expectations.

    How does Ragnvald's stubborn expectations of his sons influence their lives? What becomes of Solvi and Svanhild's daughter, who was forgotten by her mother and unknown to her father?

    and epics.

    . So that means that some of these characters—who we have rooted for, cried over, and cheered on valiantly—well, they get dealt a bad hand.

    by some of the character arcs in this novel. I don't think that certain fates were deserved, and I still think Harald was a terrible king.

    , but this is probably because I am a fantasy reader who wandered into this historical epic by chance. Agh.

    .

  • Ariel (ariel_reads)

    Reading this book transported me to ninth-century Norway, bundled in a warm hall at winter, and listening to the storytellers recount their lives, history, and culture. The Golden Wolf is the stunning climax to the three-part saga that Linnea Hartsuyker has so thoroughly researched and expertly developed. The Golden Wolf is absolutely my favorite of the three books because the character development that has been building throughout the other two novels concludes in an extremely satisfying way.

    Reading this book transported me to ninth-century Norway, bundled in a warm hall at winter, and listening to the storytellers recount their lives, history, and culture. The Golden Wolf is the stunning climax to the three-part saga that Linnea Hartsuyker has so thoroughly researched and expertly developed. The Golden Wolf is absolutely my favorite of the three books because the character development that has been building throughout the other two novels concludes in an extremely satisfying way. This book is for those who enjoyed Beowulf for the epic Norse storytelling, for those who enjoy Game of Thrones due to the intriguing political drama, and those who enjoy historical fiction due to the expertly developed narrative that is perfectly integrated with historic and cultural values.

  • Renee

    I loved this series so much, and The Golden Wolf, the concluding installment, did not disappoint.

    Taking place approximately fifteen years after the dramatic, concluding battle in The Sea Queen, The Golden Wolf sees Ragnvald, Harald, Svanhild, and Solvi in their twilight years, and the narrative expands to include their children as narrators, specifically Einar, Ragnvald’s firstborn if illegitimate son, and Freydis, Svanhild and Solvi’s abandoned daughter. The character development, which has

    I loved this series so much, and The Golden Wolf, the concluding installment, did not disappoint.

    Taking place approximately fifteen years after the dramatic, concluding battle in The Sea Queen, The Golden Wolf sees Ragnvald, Harald, Svanhild, and Solvi in their twilight years, and the narrative expands to include their children as narrators, specifically Einar, Ragnvald’s firstborn if illegitimate son, and Freydis, Svanhild and Solvi’s abandoned daughter. The character development, which has shone throughout the series, peaks in this book. Ragnvald made the choice in the last book to outthink and out maneuver Harald’s enemies. Now, ruling in all but name with his equally ambitious and capable sister patrolling Solvi-less seas, his ambition comes to haunt him in the most immediate of ways, his family. Serious as he’s always been, he has been unable to bond with and/or praise his sons, but he is able to hold them to impossible standards and to manipulate them for his own machinations.

    Svanhild was such a strong female character, one who defied traditional feminine roles and still does in this book. Her daughter, however, does play a more traditional role and yet still exhibits great strength. Kidnapped on a sea route, impregnated, abducted again, she survives pregnancy and a husband, who wasn’t outright cruel but was still not kind. “She had felt like someone else’s property her whole life, moved from Tafjord to Sogn, then carried off to Vestfold, with no one asking her what she wished.” Even so, Freydis perseveres, grows, and finds a prominent position for herself.

    Both Ragnvald and Svanhild have placed ambition above family, and in this book, they have one last chance. Both make their choices, and it’s interesting to see what they choose and how that affects the lives and happiness of themselves and their children.

    The ending may be unpopular, but I felt it was justly done and apropos to the foreshadowing and themes of fate (wyrd) and personal choices woven throughout the series, from the beginning when Ragnvald had his vision of Harald as a golden wolf to the very end. Could they have avoided their fates? No doubt.

    This is masterful historical fiction and definitely one of the best Viking stories I’ve encountered.

  • Gary K Bibliophile

    The Golden Wolf is the third of Linnea Hartsuyker’s Half-Drowned King trilogy (I’ve also seen it listed as The Golden Wolf Saga). If you are reading this I’m hoping you read the first and second books (The Half-Drowned King / The Sea Queen) If you haven’t, there are some minor spoilers ahead regarding details from each of those.

    In between the first and second books 6 years had elapsed. During that time there was sort of a Viking baby boom (mostly from Harald - I hope for his wives’ sakes that he

    The Golden Wolf is the third of Linnea Hartsuyker’s Half-Drowned King trilogy (I’ve also seen it listed as The Golden Wolf Saga). If you are reading this I’m hoping you read the first and second books (The Half-Drowned King / The Sea Queen) If you haven’t, there are some minor spoilers ahead regarding details from each of those.

    In between the first and second books 6 years had elapsed. During that time there was sort of a Viking baby boom (mostly from Harald - I hope for his wives’ sakes that he bathes frequently... still no haircut 💇‍♂️). By the start of The Golden Wolf another dozen years had gone by since the end of The Sea Queen. This allowed the children from the second book to mature and develop their own storylines. This to me made the plot richer than either of the other of the two books.

    I mentioned in one of my updates that the children hadn’t learned much from their parents mistakes... They get into a variety of bad situations making foolish choices- often stemming from trying to prove themselves to their parents (or the Gods). Other conflicts arise from the ... unusual ... beginnings of many of them - meaning they were step siblings with different mothers. These mothers might be different wives (and often simultaneous), concubines, step-mothers... and so on. There probably wasn’t much family counseling back then - and even if there was it wasn’t likely covered in the Viking health plan (which was basically... don’t die and don’t get injured... or you will probably die). So basically they just had to sort this out via other means. The parents don’t help much btw - rather than help their kids out they seem to do more harm than good in their parenting.

    Much like the first book, the conflicts start right away... by more of an accident (in this case) than a bad choice. This sets off an interesting chain of events that kept me engaged the whole story.

    The trilogy is The Half Drowned King - which of course... is Ragnvald. Another one of his names (to go along with Ragnvald the Mighty) is Ragnvald the Wise... Ok - from an outsider he probably appears to be wise. He is certainly clever- and gets Harald out of several ill advised situations. By this point he’s basically running Norway for Harald. Nevertheless, Ragnvald continues to sacrifice so much for Harald and has become very bitter from past decisions- and can’t seem to make any good ones w/r to his own family... as he continues to let Harald push him around.

    Svanhild is back - defiant as ever - and tries to steer Ragnvald to his senses. Solvi is back as well - although he has confined himself to Iceland per his pledge to Svanhild. To me, Solvi is this story’s Jaime Lannister. From the very beginning he does something that makes you dislike him, but as you learn more about him he shows to be a much more complex character. Despite his faults I find him more likable than Ragnvald most of the time. At least I understand his decisions. I would probably consider Ragnvald to be Lawful-Neutral whereas Solvi is more of a Chaotic-Neutral. (Ragnvald would be Lawful-Good if he didn’t do so many horrible things for Harald!)

    There are several characters that surprised me in this book. I remember Einar (Ragnvald’s illegitimate son) seemed like he was going to be trouble from what little there was of him from the second book. He turned out to be an honorable young man (don’t worry - he’s not immune from bad choices). The squirmy Sigurd (Ragnvald’s half brother) from the first book also turns into an honorable and very likable character. You saw hints of this transformation in the second book... he just needed a little encouragement.

    One of my favorite minor characters was Harald’s son Dagfinn. Not that he had much of a storyline- or was at all pivotal to the plot - but rather that most scenes with him he wanted to regale folks around him with songs and tales of bravery to rally them. More than once the reaction was “Stop that - Stop that - No More Singing”. It reminded me of the scenes from Swamp Castle in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

    Overall this story had more characters, with deeper character development, more battles, more locations, and more triumphs and tragedies than either of the first two. The three books as a whole represent quite an epic storyline. At the end of the book Linnea adds a short section with references to the history of this saga and her process to create the characters- which I thought was a nice addition.

    On a personal note I learned a lot about early Norway. Not just the people, but the geography.

    Prior to this my knowledge was a culmination of the following - rated from most accurate to least accurate...

    - A few semesters of college world history which spent a minor amount of time in this part of the world

    - The History Channel show Vikings... which is around the same time period (I’m still in Season 1 though)

    - The (dry humor) very well done sitcom Norsemen

    - Mel Brooks History of the World - Part II (A Viking Funeral) - never actually made but a preview/snippet from the first movie

    - Robbie the Reindeer and the Legend of the Lost Tribe

    (As you can see - my references decay in accuracy rather quickly 😃)

    As I was reading I looked things up and tried to gain a better understanding of people and places. It was quite a journey for me.

  • Linnea Tanner

    The Golden Wolf is a 9th-century Viking saga spanning across the regions of Norway to Iceland. This is the final book in The Golden Wolf Saga trilogy centered on King Harald and his trusted advisor, Ragnvald, and can be read as a stand-alone novel. Ragnvald and his sister, Svanhild, work tirelessly to preserve peace in Norway under King Harald’s sovereignty. The harmony of the kingdom is threatened with insurrection and the reckless actions of King Harald’s and Ragnvald’s sons seeking to forge

    The Golden Wolf is a 9th-century Viking saga spanning across the regions of Norway to Iceland. This is the final book in The Golden Wolf Saga trilogy centered on King Harald and his trusted advisor, Ragnvald, and can be read as a stand-alone novel. Ragnvald and his sister, Svanhild, work tirelessly to preserve peace in Norway under King Harald’s sovereignty. The harmony of the kingdom is threatened with insurrection and the reckless actions of King Harald’s and Ragnvald’s sons seeking to forge their own legacies. After Svanhild’s estranged daughter, Freydis, is taken hostage, the uneasy peace ignites into warfare, pitting brother against brother and father against son on brutal battlefields. Ragnvald and his family suffer great losses to fulfill the prophecy that King Harald will unite Norway. But the next generation finds new loyalties, love, and healing in the tragic aftermath as they embrace their own fates.

    Author Hartsuyker transports readers to the ancient world of legendary Vikings with vivid storytelling. The multiple characters are fully developed and engaging, particularly the young teen mother Freydis, who courageously rises from tragic events to profoundly impact the lives of her family. Each of the characters’ stories seamlessly weave together to create a rich narrative culminating in a heartfelt and poignant ending. The masterfully written epic tale has elements of political intrigue, romance, sacrifice, betrayal, and adventure.

    The Golden Wolf is a compelling conclusion to the trilogy. The rich tapestry of characters and their interweaving stories capture the mystique and heart of Norse and Icelandic legends. It is highly recommended for readers who enjoy in-depth layers of historical epics in the Middle Ages.

    I voluntarily reviewed this book for the Historical Novel Society, and the review is also posted in the Historical Newsletter HNR Issue 89 (August 2019) which was selected as an Editor’s Choice.

  • Stephen Richter

    That is the problem with really good trilogies, you do not want it to end.

    has used various Myths and Legends about Norway first King, Harald the Fairhair to fill 3 great books. By using as Brother and Sister main protagonists to spin the tale along with a slew of great minor character, this is an excellent Historical Fiction series. If you are a fan of Viking tales, a fan of backstabbing relatives, a fan of political double dealings, this is the series for you.

  • Ken Fredette

    Well I think it would have been easier if I read the first two books first. There were so many people that I should have known before in the story. It made it hard to figure out until I knew who was who in the story. I'd say it took until probably 20 % until I had a fairly good grasp. We have the main characters in Einar as the jarl of Orkney, Gyda as Einar's first love, Sigurd as his uncle, Ragnvald as his father, Ivar as his brother and Ragnvald's heir, Rolli was also his brother who ended up

    Well I think it would have been easier if I read the first two books first. There were so many people that I should have known before in the story. It made it hard to figure out until I knew who was who in the story. I'd say it took until probably 20 % until I had a fairly good grasp. We have the main characters in Einar as the jarl of Orkney, Gyda as Einar's first love, Sigurd as his uncle, Ragnvald as his father, Ivar as his brother and Ragnvald's heir, Rolli was also his brother who ended up as the great-great-great-grandfather of William the Conqueror, who invaded England in 1066. Most of this was found in researching the Viking age in Norway but she also used her own judgement in other's not in any records. This part of the story kept my interest going. We also have the High King Harald, his sons Halfdan and Gudrod, many more not named. Freydis, Einar's wife, and Svanhild her mother, and Solvi's her father. These people were in this tale quite a bit. It revolves around Einar and Ivar, Einar was at the rutter and Ivar was at the far end of the ship when they were boarded by the enemy and Ivar was killed, Einar was ordered to protect him and he killed his killer, not to Ragnvald's liking for he wanted Ivar as heir. Everything revolves around this. The story has many changes and Ragnvald's dogmatic stubbornness which is his death. I liked the story once I knew the people and gave it 4 star's.

  • Maja

    Well, this series is over, and I definitely feel the weight of such a thing, under the circumstances. This was an epic, pure and simple -- covering both a large geographical scope and a long span of time, and with the weight of both history and mythology, truly

    in a way no other non-mythological fiction I've ever read has felt. It's not my usual fare, but I'm very glad I read it, because it's just

    an accomplishment. It's always hard to rate the last book in a series on its own merits

    Well, this series is over, and I definitely feel the weight of such a thing, under the circumstances. This was an epic, pure and simple -- covering both a large geographical scope and a long span of time, and with the weight of both history and mythology, truly

    in a way no other non-mythological fiction I've ever read has felt. It's not my usual fare, but I'm very glad I read it, because it's just

    an accomplishment. It's always hard to rate the last book in a series on its own merits rather than also taking into account how it closes out the whole thing, but on both fronts, this book very much succeeds.

    In and of itself, it faces the same problems I had with the others in the series -- time skips not telegraphed particularly well, a cast of characters so wide and sweeping it's almost impossible to keep track of everyone, a plot that jumps and ranges so far it's difficult to remember what's happening where and when -- but only to the extent that they appear in the other books, no more. And it features the next generation, which is one of my absolute favorite fictional things! I LOVE seeing everyone's kids and how they've grown up and how different they are from their parents and how they relate to them; I would absolutely and without question die for Einar and Freydis, my KIDS (especially Einar, a bi king!!!). I loved seeing Svanhild and Solvi together again, and the ways in which they make one another better people, even now -- I loved seeing how Ragnvald has been both tempered and hindered by age, the ways in which both his wisdom and his stubbornness have increased. I have to admit that some of the plot points near the end were intensely confusing to me -- like, did these things logically follow and I've somehow missed how, or are events being twisted just to fit the historical mold? But on the whole, I found everyone's arcs satisfying and emotional, and I'm happy with how everyone ended up and how things concluded. I'm not sure if I'll ever revisit these books -- they were a lot even the first time around! -- but I'm definitely always going to have a special place for them in my heart.

  • Catherine

    1)

    2)

    It's difficult to rate this book, because I'm giving it the same rating as the two others in this trilogy while it's my least favorite. The story was still great, with good writing and a solid plot, and I'm pretty sure a lot of fantasy fans would love this epic trilogy. I mentioned in my reviews of the previous books, The

    1)

    ★★★☆☆

    2)

    ★★★☆☆

    It's difficult to rate this book, because I'm giving it the same rating as the two others in this trilogy while it's my least favorite. The story was still great, with good writing and a solid plot, and I'm pretty sure a lot of fantasy fans would love this epic trilogy. I mentioned in my reviews of the previous books, The Half-Drowned King and The Sea Queen, that I felt this was a really great work of fantasy that would deserve four stars from me, but I just didn't love it. I liked it, but didn't love it. In the first book, my main issue was to struggle to feel invested in the characters, which is a big problem for me when I read any book. In this regard, I liked the second book better and my favorite character was Svanhild, but I still wasn't much invested when it came to Ragnvald, even if he was well-written. Also, I probably don't have the same interest as many people when it comes to historical fiction for the Vikings Era. Maybe it is, after all, the real reason why I struggle to love it instead of just liking it.

    Back to the conclusion of this trilogy, what makes it my least favorite is that the children of our two sibling takes a lot of the plot. It will probably work very well for others, but I personally couldn't get myself to care that much about the new POVs. I felt that instead of bringing something new and good to the story, all those POVs didn't help me to get invested in all the character's arcs. I wanted more Ragnvald and Svanhild, I liked their children and the focus on the intergenerational is indeed interesting, but... that's all. I just wasn't invested. I finish this trilogy being glad I read it, because it's good, the historical research from the author is impressive and was my favorite part like I mentioned in my review of the first book, but I couldn't bring myself to be invested and to actually love it. My advice would still be to give this trilogy a try, because it deserves it and I think more people would love it.

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