Kjaran is a poet in 10th-century Iceland, an unforgiving land governed by a fierce honour code. One dark night Kjaran and his friend Gunnar kill a man. They must then decide whether to own up or hide their deed. The murder — and their decision — unleashes a brutal feud between two families, which draws in the surrounding Icelanders. Tim Leach is good at ratcheting up the tension as the two men fight to extricate themselves from the spiralling bloodshed.
Leach’s two previous novels told the tale of Croesus, the king of Lydia, re-creating the ancient world in vivid detail. His third is equally impressive, a poetic, absorbing narrative with many of the same qualities as the medieval Icelandic sagas that it echoes and reimagines.