Truly, Madly Viking
Sandra Hill’s 1998 release The Last Viking was one of the funniest books I have read in a long time. Truly, Madly Viking is just as funny and, unlike that earlier title, which featured a rather annoying heroine, this one has loveable characters all around. I really enjoyed it.
It is 998 A.D. Jorund Ericsson is a mercenary soldier who has come home after a stint at war to find that his wife and twin daughters have died in a famine. Jorund did not care for his shrewish wife, but he loved his daughters dearly and is crushed by their deaths. Furthermore, Jorund’s brother Geirolf (the hero of The Last Viking) is missing and their father wants him to go search for him.
Jorund and his other brother Magnus sail to where Geirolf was last sighted. On the way, Jorund’s ship is followed by a playful orca whom he has named Thora. At times, Jorund thinks that Thora is actually speaking to him and even though he speaks many languages, he brushes this off as a figment of his imagination – Saxon speak is one thing, but not this. When the ship’s anchor fouls on some seaweed, Jorund strips off to try and free it, but Thora grabs him and takes off into the sea.
Thora and Jorund surface in Galveston, Texas in the year 2000 A.D. where the spectators at the Orcaland Park are amazed to see a naked man riding on the back of a killer whale. When he claims to be a Viking he is placed in restraints and taken to the Roseland Mental Health facility where he meets Dr. Maggie McBride.
Maggie is a psychologist with twin daughters. Their feckless daredevil father was killed in a skydiving accident and they never knew him. The girls really, really want a daddy and have wished on a star – a star in a curiously whale-shaped constellation.
I have always loved time travel stories where a man from the past travels to the present. The fish out of water situations inherent in that plot allow for some very funny incidents, and Sandra Hill does not disappoint. Jorund is as lost as a man can be – strapped in a “torture shert,” being questioned by Mag-he the “dock whore,” with only a box that shows magic pictures to console him. And who are all these bossy women who call themselves “norses” who come into his room with cold implements that they place under his arse so he can relieve himself? Jorund is presented in the beginning as an excellent linguist so he has little trouble grasping the English language, but he has to work really hard on his frame of reference.
Sandra Hill’s Viking heroes are almost always very likable and Jorund is no exception, being a goodhearted and very kind man under his brawn and bluster. He does have a one-track mind when it comes to the activity that is foremost on his mind (bedsport) and for a man who claims not to care for kissing, he could have fooled me – the love scenes in this book are hot, hot hot! But the one scene in the book that touched me, and made me love Jorund is the one where Maggie’s little girls ask him to be their daddy and he, remembering his own little girls hugs them and weeps.
Maggie is also a very sympathetic character. Sometimes Sandra Hill’s heroines can be too screechy and moody, but not Maggie. Although she is often befuddled, she is never shrill and I liked her very much.
The secondary characters in the book – members of Maggie’s therapy group – are not developed enough with the exception of Steve, the former Navy SEAL who is suffering from post traumatic stress syndrome. He bonds with Jorund and Jorund, being a former warrior, is able to understand the stresses that hurt this man. Steve’s HEA is very touching.
In the postscript, Hill has promised more Viking stories. I’m kind of hoping for Jorund’s brother Magnus to get his own book. While in the 21st century, Jorund becomes hooked on The Andy Griffith Show because Barney Fife reminds him of Magnus. A Viking Barney Fife? This I have to see.