Finn’s Fate is a tenth century adventure story about three young men who escape from the drudgery of producing iron in the far north of Scandinavia and travel south to seek their fortunes.
Their journey takes them through lawless frontier territory where danger and violence abound. Eventually, they reach the realm of King Erik where they find themselves thrown into prison and become slaves.
After a thrilling escape they find their way to Denmark where they become crew members on a Viking ship sailing to raid England.
The events that follow bring this saga to a dramatic conclusion, and at the same time throw light on the modern mystery of a mass grave in the Dorset countryside which was discovered in 2009 on a hill in the Dorset countryside.
Finn’s Fate is a story constructed like one of the old Norse sagas – intrepid heroes, a series of adventures, and, ultimately, a price to pay. It starts in the far, far north, where calamity strikes a small family one very cold winter night, leaving their little settlement in ashes. There is nothing to do but to abandon their home and try to find shelter elsewhere. The family’s three sons, however, decide that now is a good time for them to leave altogether, all of them eager for adventure far away from the land of the midnight sun.
Gunnar, Torsten and Finn are close, with Gunnar, as the eldest, the self-appointed leader. While Torsten more or less always tags along in Gunnar’s shadow, Finn has a mind of his own, and at times it is his ingenuity that will get the brothers out of one scrape or the other. Things do not start well, but after a couple of humiliating months in servitude in Sigtuna, the then capital of the fledging Swedish kingdom, the brothers finally make it to the land of the Danes and King Harald’s court. Their true adventures are about to start, the eager brothers hope, all of them wanting to go west, there to raid and amass a fortune. Once again, fate has other plans…
Mr Wills has clearly done his research, with details of boats and houses, vestments and weapons strewn through the text. The historical background – including the power struggle between the White Christ and the old Norse gods – is described in sufficient detail to allow the reader to understand the salient facts, and the geographical setting is beautifully described – from the forbidding icy vastness of the north, to the waterways and islands around Birka and Sigtuna.
What I particularly liked was how Mr Wills wove certain archaeological facts into his story. To say more would be to spoil the impact for future readers, but for myself I must say I found Mr Wills offered a very plausible explanation to what has, so far, been something of a mystery.
The book ends as it should. Norse sagas rarely believe in Happily Ever After – and to be quite honest, neither does life in general. And yet there is some hope of a brighter tomorrow, of the continuation of life, no matter that the Norns have already raised their shears to snip the thread of fate in two.
Definitely a recommended read – and especially for those fascinated by the Vikings and their culture.
Reviewed by Anna Belfrage, Historical Novelist, 18 November 2014
I loved this book (and its cover), a great read, I was gripped from start to finish. I will think about this story a fair bit in years to come and highly recommend it to all.
5 out of 5 Stars Reviewed by Peter Haverty on Goodreads, 3 January 2014
Three Kings – One Throne is a fictional fleshing out of what is known about roughly the middle third of the eleventh century c.e. The attempted is well conceived and well-executed with the stories of two mid-level noblemen who wind up on opposites sides of the Battle of Hastings in 1066 providing additional excitement and interest to the better known stories of Earl (later King) Harold, Harald Hardrata (King of Norway) and William, Duke of Normandy. I found the book convincing and thoroughly enjoyable.
5 out of 5 Stars Reviewed by Lee Holz, Cleveland, USA on Goodreads, 8 December 2013
When a fire destroys their homestead, Finn and his two older brothers Torsten and Gunnar set off on a journey that they hope will bring them riches, rewards, and a better life. Their life of adventure takes them into the realm of King Erik and slavery.
That’s not where this tale ends. Finn and his brothers escape and find themselves part of the Viking tradition, raiding villages and towns in what is now the UK to find silver and slaves in order to return wealthy enough to marry or just have a better life.
…It’s an extremely gripping book that entices the reader to keep going onto the next chapter despite the clock now reading 2am and an early morning start beckoning.
Michael Wills has obviously meticulously researched this story, the locations, the weather, the clothing, food; everything is given life and Wills is very much a man of the sea. His knowledge of sailing makes the intrepid trio’s journey come alive. Definitely recommended.
Rachel Malone reviewing Finn’s Fate for the Historical Novel Society of the USA and UK
Radar’s review is very true. Reviews on Goodread pointed me in the direction of Finn’s Fate a few weeks back and I recently had the pleasure of finishing this wonderful novel.
Mr. Wills has penned a well researched historical novel, as stirring as it is detailed. On its surface, this is a fictitious telling of the journey of three brothers, tied to the actual finding of 51 beheaded men discovered in a mass grave in England. The novel could easily be characterized as an adventure story, yet the author paints a vibrant historical landscape more comprehensive than typical for this genre.
Mr. Wills’ unique literary style stands in slight contrast to this backdrop. His use of terse dialgoue and restrained character descriptions allow a reader to sketch these charcaters more fully using his or her own experiences. Nonetheless, his minimalist style reflects the cold, northern Scandinavian lifestyle indured by the Vikings and adds authenticity to the prose.
At its core, I believe Finn’s Fate is an exploration of human nature, or certain facets of human nature anyway. It is a well-developed and extremely enjoyable novel. Mr. Wills provides a beautiful illustration of human similarities, not only across cultures but across time. As a person with Scandinavian roots, I also really enjoyed learning more about this period of history. I highly recommend Finn’s Fate, and cannot wait for Mr. Wills’ second novel whenever it should come.
Reviewed by Easy Goer on Amazon.com, June 2012
You can’t judge a book by it’s cover! How true the saying!
I first saw “Finn’s Fate” at a Waterstones author’s signing and after chatting to Michael Wills decided to invest in a copy of the book. For a first-time author this is an exceptional combination of fact and fiction. Readers often say they couldn’t put a book down. Well I read several chapters at a time then savoured the content for a while, not wanting to reach the end too soon. Can’t wait for the sequel!
Trevor P., Salisbury
I really, really enjoyed this book. As an historical mystery adventure it has everything I was looking for in a book. To top it off I found myself learning things about a period of history I knew very little about. It has clearly been really well researched but doesn’t feel like a lecture. The book is about all the characters and you just get drawn into their lives and into the time and place that they lived. I stayed up far too late to finish it which is always a good sign.
I absolutely recommend it to everybody and am already looking forward to the next book!
Anna Hurst, Brighton, UK
Finn’s Fate is the author’s first novel. It relates the story of three brothers who leave Lapland, the land of the Sami, to find their fortunes. Their travels develop into an adventurous Viking journey. We follow the brothers’ struggle for survival and get an interesting insight into the rigours of life at that time. The author is a knowledgeable sailor and incorporates much authentic historical detail in a skilful way. The rough ways of the Vikings and their actions grip the reader’s attention through the story.
The end is very believable and it is to be hoped that the author will soon be
Inger Lindstrand, Swedish Librarian
Just finished the amazing “Finn’s Fate”. A real page turner except for the brilliant way you slowed the pace down at the end. Didn’t want it to finish, anyway. We have a Viking ship in Pegwell Bay, in Kent. Only taught our side of the story at school – so it was fascinating to learn about the lives of the “enemy”.
Many congratulations. It should be on Yr 9 reading lists – and picked up by Hollywood.
Julia Clarke, Margate, UK
“Congratulations on your book and thank you very much for sending me a copy. I felt much honored for being mentioned in your acknowledgements. I finished the book in a couple of days, found it unputdownable. You manage to portray the greed and the squalor of the age much better than Frans G Bengtsson, the Swedish icon portrayer of the viking age.”
Dr Jan Persson, Stockholm
“Anyway the book, what a surprise this book was, and a good one. the author is obviously a sailor that comes across in the writing, a man with a real passion for the sea, and it appears also for the subject of Vikings. As far as I’m aware Finn’s Fate is the author’s first fictional novel. It covers the saga of three brothers who leave their home in Lapland which is the land of the Sami, as most in that time they leave to seek their fortunes. As with any decent fictional take their journey so turns into a saga worthy of song a classic Viking journey, We follow their struggles for survival and get a very frank insight into the hardship and rigours of life at sea in a longship. This is where the author is clearly using his intimate knowledge of the sea and incorporates so very much detail of the skills involved , adapting his modern knowledge to fit his obvious research of the era. Great characters, good plot, a great ending and very much want to see more from this author.”
Review on Amazon Books
“I received this book free from a GoodReads First Read giveaway and I’m really happy that I did. There’s no doubt about the amount of research that went into the writing of this book. There are many historical facts woven into the tale of Finn and his brothers. I was instantly captivated by the description of Finn’s family and their way of life. The characters came alive and I felt as though I was experiencing their journey right along with them. Finn’s Fate is very well written. It was a pleasure to read a book that was equally engrossing and enlightening. I look forward to reading the next Michael Wills novel.”
Debbie Thurlow, California