|A Tale of Two Vikings involves a set of Viking twins - Vagn and Toste Iversson. Vagn and Toste are currently serving as Jomsviking warriors (which is a bit like a Viking fraternity). They are heading into battle with 200 comrades but realize they are considerably outnumbered by the Saxons. Although they put up a good fight, both brothers and their friend, Bolthor the Skald, are badly wounded. Vagn and Bolthor are picked up off the battlefield by Gorm, the father of Helga the Homely (a childhood friend of Vagn and Toste), while Toste is picked up by a couple of nuns and a priest. All three Vikings are nursed back to health. Unfortunately, Vagn believes his brother Toste died in the battle and Toste believes the same of Vagn.
Toste and Vagn regain their strength and go on to have adventures living among those that rescued them, all the while thinking the other brother is dead. Toste is attracted to Esme, a nun who has not yet taken her vows and is in residence at the nunnery to hide from her father. Vagn is attracted to Helga, who no longer resembles the homely child the brothers once made fun of. The chapters of the book alternate between the stories of Vagn and Toste, which ends up being a bit confusing at times.
The story is punctuated by the sometimes witty, sometimes sarcastic, self-talk of numerous characters, including Vagn, Toste, Bolthor, Helga and Esme. These characters constantly berate and criticize each other with sarcastic banter that sometimes becomes a little too much. Much of the story is fun to read and leaves the reader laughing out loud, but there are times when the readers will feel like just rolling their eyeballs and moving on.
Bolthor the Skald is one of the funnier characters. He is the worst creator of poetic sagas imaginable. Fortunately his friends recognize his lack of talent, but he does have a way of making light of any embarrassing moment that can be thrown at any character. His jests are dead-on accurate and quite funny if you can get past the on-again-off-again rhyming. This story just wouldn’t be the same without Bolthor.
There is a bit of adventure when it comes to Esme and the father she’s hiding out from. Esme’s father wants to marry her to an elderly man who would play the part of his puppet and handle affairs to his liking. Esme doesn’t trust her father and wants nothing to do with him or his marriage plans. She needs Toste to be her champion, but he’s interested in nothing more than seducing her. The story gets strange and completely unbelievable for a short while toward the end. The story involving Helga and Vagn is a bit less exciting and could have used something more than Bolthor’s poems to spice it up.
Overall, A Tale of Two Vikings is an acceptable read. If you’re familiar with Hill’s witty writing and really enjoy it, you may like this story more than I did. It was a bit over the top for my taste.