Son of Anger
(The Ormstunga Saga, Book 1)
By Donovan Cook
Ulf is like a storm, slowly building up its power, he grows more dangerous with each passing moment. And like all storms, he will eventually break. When he does, he will destroy everything in his path.
Ulf is one of a long line of famous Norse warriors. His ancestor Tyr was no ordinary man, but the Norse God of War. Gulf, however, knows nothing about being a warrior.
Everything changes when a stranger arrives on Ulf’s small farm in Vikenfjord. The only family he’s ever known are slaughtered and the one reminder of his father is stolen — Ulf’s father’s sword, Ormstunga. Ulf’s destiny is decided.
Are the gods punishing him? All Ulf knows is that he has to avenge his family. He sets off on an adventure that will take him across oceans, into the eye of danger, on a quest to reclaim his family’s honour.
The gods are roused. One warrior can answer to them. The Son of Anger.
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Enjoy an Excerpt:
“I didn’t kill her,” Ulf said, but his throat was still hurting from the rope, so it came out as barely a whisper and could not be heard over the noise of the crowd. “I didn’t kill her!” he tried again; this time louder. He coughed as his voice grated through his injured throat.
The crowd fell silent, everyone looking at Ulf as he lay on his back, not being able to get up.
“And why should we believe you?” a woman from the crowd shouted. Some told her to be quiet while others agreed with her.
“My knife,” Ulf responded.
“What?” Thorgils wasn’t sure if he heard correctly. It was difficult to make out what Ulf was saying.
“My knife in her hand.” Ulf rolled onto his knees and sat up, looking the jarl in the eyes. There was no anger in Ulf’s eyes, no confusion. Instead, there was a clarity, a realization he had not been forsaken by the gods.
“You admit that is your knife then?” the jarl asked.
“Everyone knows that is my knife.” Ulf coughed again, his voice still struggling to come out of his throat. “But why would I leave my knife in her hand?” He looked at the people around him and saw a sea of confused faces.
“Maybe you wanted us to know that you killed her,” Gunnhildr said, sounding very confident in her theory.
“Then why would he still be here?” Oddi asked, understanding what Ulf was saying. Gunnhildr was about to respond, then realized she didn’t have an answer.
“That’s right,” Snorri said, glaring at his wife. He walked up to Hulda, who had almost been forgotten about and indicated to her face. “And why would Ulf write Loki on her head?” He turned to Ulf, who was still sitting on his knees.
“Maybe he worships Loki?” Thorvald put in. It was the first words he had spoken since this whole thing had started. At once people started shouting at each other, Snorri’s crew defending Ulf while others agreed with Thorvald. Ulf wasn’t really listening, he didn’t care what they were saying, or what they thought. He only cared that he was alive. Somehow, he had survived. He studied the broken branch lying on the ground beside him. It was a thick branch and looked healthy enough, so there was no reason for it to break. Or at least not any reason that Ulf could see. Ulf’s head was starting to hurt. He didn’t know if it was because of the hanging, or because of trying to understand the gods. Instead, he looked to Vidar who knelt down beside him and removed the noose still attached to Ulf’s neck, the smile on his face bigger than before.
“Why do I get the feeling you knew this was going to happen?” Ulf couldn’t help but ask. Vidar tilted his head and furrowed his brow. Ulf decided not to press any further. And besides, it hurt too much to speak.
“Enough!” Snorri bellowed. He waited until everyone had gone quiet. “Ulf would never worship Loki. Loki is a deceiver and cannot be trusted.” He looked at his father. “Father, surely you must understand this as well.”
All faces turned to Jarl Thorgils, who after a moment’s thought nodded. He took a deep breath as he understood what he must now do. Almost as if in confirmation, his wife appeared next to him and took hold of his hand. He looked at her and she gave him that knowing smile of hers.
“My son is correct,” he finally said.
“Which son?” someone asked from the crowd before he had a chance to continue.
“Snorri, you idiot!” Thorbjorn answered for the jarl, glaring into the crowd.
“Snorri is correct,” the jarl clarified. “I might not know young Ulf as well as I knew his father, but he does not strike me as a person who would make a sacrifice to Loki.” There were quiet murmurs from the crowd. Thorgils stared at Ulf, with Vidar kneeling beside him. The boy was using his freakishly big hands to untie Ulf. Then his narrowed eyes fell on the broken branch. So many had been hanged from that branch, many who might have been innocent of the crimes they had been accused of. This was one of those rare moments when Thorgils did not know what to do. Thorgils looked at the body of Hulda again. She was a loss that none of these people could ever understand. Looking to his wife for guidance, he saw her staring towards the branch. That was the answer. Everybody was silent now, waiting for him to speak, the only noise to be heard was Ulf coughing and birds chirping from the tree.
“The death of Hulda is a tragedy. Despite being a thrall, she was liked by everybody. Although we thought Ulf was the killer, my son Snorri raised a valid point. Ulf would not have left his knife in her hand to condemn himself.” He took a deep breath. “But none of this matters. As we all have witnessed, the gods do not want Ulf to die. There is no other reason for what has happened here. Therefore, Ulf will be spared. But know this,” he said, turning his attention to the fiery eyes of Ulf as he said this, “if you ever give me a reason to doubt your intentions again, I will kill you myself. Regardless of what the gods want from you.”
There was a tense moment when the two men stared at each other until Ulf nodded his assent. He understood. The crowd had seen enough now and were heading back to their homes or chores. The morning’s events were over. Ulf watched the people as they walked away. The warriors who fought for their jarl and his son. The wives and children. The thralls and bændr. One of them had killed Hulda and used his knife to do it. He watched Ragnar walk away, looking at him over his shoulder. Ulf humiliated him on the wharf. But he could not imagine Ragnar doing something like this to get his revenge. He had beaten Ulf many times in training during the winter.
Jarl Thorgils walked with his wife back to their longhouse. He was in desperate need of some ale. He could see Ingibjorg was still shaken from the loss of Hulda. She could hide it from everyone else, but not him. He knew her too well. Better than she realized.
“Was this the chaos you promised?” he asked her.
She thought about it for a few moments. “No, my husband, this is only the beginning.”
Donovan Cook was born in South Africa but raised in England, and currently works as an English tutor. He is the author of the Ormstunga Saga, which includes his debut novel Son of Anger and the follow up, Raid of the Wolves. His novels come from his fascination with the Viking world and Norse Mythology and he hopes that you will enjoy exploring this world as much as he did writing about it.
When Donovan is not teaching or writing, he can be found reading, watching rugby, or working on DIY projects. Being born in South Africa, he is a massive Springboks fan and rarely misses a match.
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