"A powerful debut worth its weight in gold!"
In England's Dark Ages a Saxon healer and a Danish Viking
would have had little in common other than the belief that
the other belonged to a barbaric race that was little
better than animals. Britta and Karn have at least one more
thing in common. Their lives had been forever altered by a
man whose lust for power fueled his fundamental lack of
Britta had been only fifteen when Offa had come to Dunford.
The village's new thegn, their appointed Saxon protector,
had flexed his muscles, raping and murdering his own as
effectively as any barbarian Viking. Britta had lost both
her parents and her innocence that day. Even worse she had
lost her magic, for such power could only be wielded by a
woman of unquestionable virtue. Her mother had reminded her
of that often enough.
Britta had fled and made her home on Devil Island, a place
even the bravest of men feared to tread. She felt no pity
for the villagers and would only setting foot on the
mainland to trade her healing abilities for necessities. So
it was that she felt no need to alert them when she
discovered a band of Vikings preparing for a raid.
Karn and his men had been ordered to take the village
church. The raid should have been a simple thing, too
simple in fact for a man of his skills. He is angered by
the insult, but is as yet unaware that he has been set up
to face impossible odds by his leader who wishes to
eliminate a talented rival. Offa's men out number the
marauders, and Karn unfortunately is the only Viking left
alive. He is seriously wounded. Denied an honorable death,
Karn is repeatedly abused and violated by his captor in an
effort to gain information about the Viking's battle plans.
Karn resisted stoically and was barely alive when Offa
finished with him for the night.
Britta had been summoned by Offa to aid the fallen Saxons,
and had no choice but to heed his request. Her hopes that
he had forgotten about their former encounter are quickly
dashed, and she realizes that she must take desperate
measures to avoid more of the same treatment. She is
surprised when she is given a vision which includes the
handsome Viking she'd seen before the attack. Had her magic
returned? Though she has no use for his kind, she realizes
that her fate may be tied to the prisoner and seeks him
out. Once she assesses his condition a plan forms. The next
morning, as far as Offa's guards are concerned, she'd been
just another faceless woman hauling a dead body away for
There is little trust between the healer and her captive at
first, but as time goes on, Karn realizes that he isn't
being kept alive for further torture, and Britta confides
her similar experience at Offa's hands. She does what she
can to heal him, but he soon realizes that he will never
again be the man he'd been before the battle. Karn's only
wish is to return to his home, but he knows he would be
mocked and shunned as a useless cripple.
Offa is enraged that his prizes have escaped him, and the
need to destroy them becomes an obsession. Britta continues
to have troubling visions and soon the pair is forced to
flee the island that had been their sanctuary. They must
rejoin the world, and learn to live by their wits. Though
they have become emotionally attached to the other, each of
them covets that part of themselves that Offa had stolen
from them. Sadly they realize that their paths must
diverge. Britta must learn about her magic, and Karn must
find a means to become a useful man once more. Will the
price of becoming whole be too dear?
It has been said that if you love something you must set it
free. If it returns it will be yours forever. Their paths
may be long and full of peril, but in the end they lead to
a common truth. The choices Karn and Britta make along the
way will determine the future of their people. Susan
Squires' characterizations are so phenomenal that it is
quite difficult to believe that DANGELD is a debut novel.
It is one of the most touching love stories I have read
in a very long time. This book is worth its weight in gold.
I highly recommend it and look forward to reading many more
by this gifted author.
Copyright © 2002
Reviewed by Leslie Tramposch
Posted July 30, 2002