This is a review of “Wolfskin” by Juliet Marillier. It is the first novel in The Saga of the Light Isles.
Eyvind is a young boy of Rogaland. His deepest desire is to grow up exactly like his brother Eirik and become a Wolfskin. A warrior Viking. He is a kind and honest boy who works hard towards his goal.
Somerled is a very different boy. He is withdrawn and quiet, his mind works differently. His brother Ulf is a respected and well-liked man, kinsman to the Jarl (a man of influence and wealth). Ulf, not knowing what to do with his younger brother, leaves him at the household of Eyvind’s mother. Eyvind is charged with the responsibility of looking after Somerled.
The two boys form a steadfast friendship and make a blood-pact binding each to the other as a brother. As the boys grow older, Eyvind suspects that he may not have thought the pact through as well as he should have.
Both boys grow into young men. Eyvind fulfills his dream and becomes a Wolfskin. Somerled becomes a silver-tongued courtier and is respected by many for his cleverness and wit. Ulf dreams of travelling to a distant island that he heard of from his father. Both Somerled and Eyvind journey to this land alongside Ulf. Eyvind against his will and Somerled in spite of his brother (whom he has an uneasy and tumultuous relationship with).
They reach the island situated in The Light Isles and a treaty of peace is brokered with the local populace. But Eyvind starts to notice dark things about his friend Somerled, things he had previously brushed aside. Is he capable of raping a young girl? Killing a man in cold blood? Committing an unspeakable crime against his own brother? And what of the mysterious priestess and princess of The Light Isles, the lovely Nessa? What role will she play in Eyvind’s life?
I really enjoyed this book. It is thought-provoking and touching.