Council (Helga Finnsdottir #2) by Snorri Kristjansson

CouncilCouncil is the second in the Helga Finnsdottir series and is another really good story that builds on the world and characters established in Kin.

I’m enjoying this series so far, the second book is undoubtedly different from the first in that Helga has now left the homestead but it continues in the same tone as the first which is something I really enjoyed. There’s a simplicity to the life here plus a casual brutality that is always threatening to break out which adds a layer of tension to the story and makes the pages turn all that much faster.

Taking place a few years after Kin we find Helga living in Uppsala as a healer.  She seems to be gaining something of a reputation for herself and is generally well respected.  Basically Helga is a young woman who pays attention, she notices things and figures out what they mean or how they relate to events and this makes her unique in many respects because most others simply don’t pay attention.  On top of that Helga has learned to keep her intelligence under wraps.  For the large part she is ignored by the men around her and she uses this to her advantage.

As the story begins the King is planning a Council in which the leaders of his tribes will meet.  This is a time of threat and the atmosphere is loaded with potential violence as the men take part in different bouts to demonstrate their strength.  There’s a lot of chest beating that eventually calms down as the real purpose of the meet is discussed but between times a young boy is discovered dead in a nearby field.  Helga is asked to take a look at the body and immediately determines that the boy’s death was not an accident.  Of course she has to tread very carefully, these are very superstitious times and it would be easy for any actions Helga takes to be misinterpreted.  To be honest it’s difficult to really go too much into the plot without giving away things so I’m going to leave it alone.  All I can really say is that Helga unwittingly finds herself as part of a delegation where everyone suspects everyone else and things become incredibly tense and rife with deceit.

What I’m really enjoying about this is the atmosphere and sense of place.  There’s a real starkness and brutality to the way of life and a simplicity that makes this a very unique murder mystery.  There are no crime scenes, no dusting for fingerprints, no forensics, no nothing really.  Just one young woman trying to look beyond the immediately obvious and draw conclusions about the whys and wherefores and on top of that there is the odd inkling of god-like interference which is very subtly worked into events.

Helga is a character that I’m really enjoying.  She makes mistakes and she can’t always puzzle things out quickly, which means as a reader you’re also in the dark. You only know as much as Helga does and if she is sometimes frustrated by the thoughts that won’t work their way loose then those feelings are sure to be the same for you as a reader.  Personally, I like that Helga struggles a little with making her deductions – it makes things more relatable somehow and adds to the air of mystery.

As well as Helga there are a number of other characters here, a character from her past who she is less than happy to see and also a romantic interest. But, many of the characters have their own motivations at heart and this helps to increase the feelings of mistrust between them all and create a real air of confusion.  There are also a number of twists and turns (some obvious, some not so much).  What I will say is that one of the characters is becoming a real thorn in Helga’s side and needs dealing with – that is all – well, that being said, I’d kind of like this character to pop up and cause trouble again if I’m going to be totally honest.  Sorry Helga.

In terms of criticisms.  Nothing major to report.  I think there was a point in the story where I felt events were lulling a little bit but then the action took off and pretty much didn’t relent until the conclusion – which brings me to my other little issue – this ends on something of a cliff hanger (which I’m not overly fond of).  It definitely makes me hankar after the next book all the more and thankfully these books have been published so far in a rather snappy fashion so fingers crossed that the next isn’t a lengthy wait.

Overall I think Council is a really good second instalment that sees the main character really grow having learnt some harsh life lessons.  It will be very interesting to see where Helga winds up next and I very much look forward to picking up the next instalment.

I received a copy courtesy of the publishers, through Netgalley, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

 

 

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14 Responses to “Council (Helga Finnsdottir #2) by Snorri Kristjansson”

  1. maddalena@spaceandsorcery

    The previous book in this series intrigued me, and now that I’m watching “Vikings” on Netflix I’m even more curious about this background and stories.
    Thanks for sharing! 🙂

  2. Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

    I’d like to get to this one soon so I skimmed over the more detailed bits of your review so I can head in with a blank slate. I’m a bit nervous about those “harsh life lessons” though, I hope nothing too bad comes to Helga, I like her so much!

    • @lynnsbooks

      I really like Helga too – she does have some lessons to learn here but I’m not going to spoil it for you. I really liked this – it’s obviously moved away from the family setting but Helga still thinks back to her time at the homestead and frequently has the voice of Hildi running through her head and guiding her actions. I really like the atmosphere that the author creates – there’s something so refreshingly different.
      Lynn 😀

  3. Tammy

    Can’t wait to start this series at some point. They seem very different from anything else I’ve read!

    • @lynnsbooks

      I think it’s the difference that I’m really enjoying at the moment. There’s always a slight mystery to the story but it’s not a full on murder mystery style story and the writing is great – it creates the world here in an almost simple way – which probably sounds a weird thing to say and it’s not meant as a slight! I like the author’s style and the way he creates a feeling of the place – it comes across so well – the casual acceptance of death as part of life, the easy discussions of raids – it’s all second nature almost.
      Lynn 😀

  4. waytoofantasy

    Really glad your loving this series! Probably not exactly my thing but it sounds very well written! 🙂

    • @lynnsbooks

      Yeah, maybe not your thing to be honest but I really do love it.
      Lynn 😀

  5. jessicabookworm

    I am really looking forward to reading this!

  6. TTT – Favourite Fictional Characters from 2019 | Books and travelling with Lynn

    […] from Council by Snorri Kristjansson.  The Helga Finnsdottir #2 series is turning into a favourite for me.  […]

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