Council by Snorri Kristjansson

Last year, I read and loved the brand-new, Viking murder-mystery, Kin by new-to-me author, Snorri Kristjansson; so much so, when I got to the end I wanted more! Luckily for me, it was announced it was to be the first book in a series following Helga Finnsdottir. As soon as I could I snapped up a copy of the second book, Council and again patiently saved it for the perfect darker, cooler days of autumn to read it.

Set five years after the first book, Council sees Helga has now settled near King Eirik’s court in Uppsala, where she’s worked hard to become a well-regarded healer. But her quiet life is about to get a bit more exciting, when she is called to the grisly discovery of the body of an unknown boy near to the river. But with delegations from all over the country arriving for the King’s Council; rumours of an imminent attack and flaring tempers, the death is brushed off as an accident. Only Helga suspects murder, until a second body makes it clear that someone’s intent on breaking up this important council and that a traitor may walk among them…

We follow the majority of this fast, gripping and twisting story through the eyes of the ever watchful and insightful Helga. First as she witnesses and notes the arrival of each tribe’s delegations for the council; which includes a dangerous, unwanted face from Helga’s past. Then, having established herself as the resident healer, she is called upon to treat wounds and examine the bodies, which puts her in a prime position to seek clues and wheedle out information, with all the cunning traits she learnt from her wise adoptive mother, Hildigunnur and a wisdom that belies her years.

Yet this time Helga does make mistakes and mistakes that put her in grave danger. To be fair it is totally understandable as this second mystery is set in the larger, busier setting of Uppsala, which offers a much larger cast of players and suspects. Plus with the arrival of the delegations and the fear of attack, there is a loaded atmosphere of threat, where potential violence lurks at every wrong word or step. All of which piles the pressure on Helga. And with so many characters, all of whom have their own motivations, Helga is left not knowing who to trust and creates a general air of confusion.

Like the previous book, what took a very good murder-mystery to a whole new level was the fantastic Viking setting. Here there are no forensics, finger-printing or databases to aid Helga’s investigations. Instead it all has to be done with her careful observations; her medical and herbal knowledge; and, now and again, the god-like interference of visions. All of which is cleverly weaved together to make a believable trail of clues and deductions. I also enjoyed seeing how this mystery lay naturally alongside the daily Viking life of growing and preserving food and herbs; trading furs, medicine and tools; and politics, negotiations and fighting.

All in all, I thought Council was a heart-pounding, page-turner, with a darker, thriller twist to it than the previous book. My only issue was the cliffhanger end… I want to know what happens next, now! I really hope I don’t have to wait too long for the next book! Great read.

Thank you to the publishers, Quercus Books for providing a copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion.

I’d love to hear your thoughts: Have you read this? What do you think? Have you read any other Viking books?


This is book #3 for R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril XIV.

13 thoughts on “Council by Snorri Kristjansson

  1. Perfect review – and I couldn’t agree more about the cliffhanger ending – it doesn’t usually bother me too much but just let’s say I’m desperate for the next book in series.
    Lynn πŸ˜€

    1. As you read this before me, it means a lot that you think it was a perfect review πŸ™‚ And I totally agree, I don’t usually mind a cliff-hanger but from the ending of the first book, I wasn’t expecting one so I was left like… WHAT?! Thankfully we didn’t have to wait long for this second book to come out, so fingers crossed we won’t have to wait long for the third book! πŸ˜€

  2. I put the first in this series on my wishlist when you reviewed it. From this review, I definitely think I would enjoy the series. Your comments about how she solves the murders, lacking modern day forensics, reminds me of the Brother Cadfael mysteries by Ellis Peters.

    I’m glad you enjoyed it so much!

    1. Thank you, Kelly and I really hope you will enjoy the first in the series, Kin, as much as I did. I’ve sadly never read any of the Brother Cadfael mysteries, but would definitely like to give them ago, some day. πŸ™‚

  3. Council sounds like a great mystery thriller, perfect, as you said, for darker, cooler nights. I’m glad you liked it so, and too bad that now you have to wait for another entry in the saga. πŸ™‚ Why can’t authors write more books at once?! πŸ˜›

    1. Thank you, Carmen – this really was a great mystery thriller, which was perfect for this time of year. I wish authors wrote more books at once too, but fortunately I didn’t have long to wait for this second book after reading the first one this time last year, so fingers crossed won’t be long for the third book either. πŸ˜€

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