Below are reviews written by various book critics and fans
James A. Cox, Editor-in-Chief
Midwest Book Review
278 Orchard Drive, Oregon, WI 53575
The Fiction Shelf
J. A. Hunsinger
9780988945524, $19.95 PB, $9.99 Kindle, 424pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: The twists and turns of this Viking saga will engage the readers total and rapt attention as the story plays out regarding the tall, fair-skinned Nordic invaders, knowing it is their key to survival, gradually assimilate with the savage natives of the pre-historical land that will one day be known as the Hudson Bay and Great Lakes regions of Canada and the US.
In a scenario ordained by the Nordic gods, this assimilation process has a thin chance of success through the forced involvement of two of the Viking settlers with tribes of natives that are habitual enemies of one another. Against overwhelming odds that can have but one successful outcome for the settlers, daily life becomes a balancing act where one word, one gesture, one innocent mistake, can spell disaster in this hostile setting.
Critique: "Assimilation" is the third novel in J. A. Hunsinger's outstanding 'Axe of Iron' series about the Greenland Viking settlers that includes "The Settlers" (9780980160109, $17.95 PB, $7.99 Kindle) and "Confrontation" (9780980160154, $16.95 PB, $8.99 Kindle). Once again with the publication of "Assimilation" author J. A. Hunsinger demonstrates a genuine flair for saga style storytelling. All three of these outstanding titles will prove to be enduringly popular additions to community library Historical Fiction collections and will have special appeal for the personal reading lists of Viking era action/adventure enthusiasts.
I have finished reading your book. It is your best.
I am impressed with it, very impressed. It reveals once more your deep knowledge of northern archaeology and customs but it is Death Wind that stays in mind. When I read it the first time I laid down the book and didn't touch it for two days, out of fright. My heart beat and I had to calm down. Actually, some of your favourite expressions now enter my mind.
"He stood still for a heartbeat." (15)
"---for a couple of heartbeats" (90)
Death wind touched my heart. Your description of obsession accompanied by the magic of the soothing and frightening nature is masterly. The composition is more dramatic than I noticed in the first two volumes. You succeed at composing thrill, building up the story with cliff hangers, cutting off near the top of the thrill, only to return to it a few sections later.
Sublime moments are balanced against horror scenes, eating raw hearts for example. The atmosphere of magic lies like a sweeping cloud in and on everything, nature, thought, relationships, feelings and it is described with all the five senses. People hear howls, shrills and whinings and feel them on their skins. They absorb smells of food, smoke, breaths and nature and they are gluttons. They have omens, they know beforehand, they guess, they fear. They know how to hide. Magic is everywhere.
Just one example:
"his presence had left an imprint on the soul of the young Haudeno warrior that he would never forget. He felt that something was watching him."
At the base there is love, hate and revenge. The love between Nipishish and Ingerd is perhaps not described as burning hot, rather true and everlasting. It is absurd that it should turn Nipishish into a killing monster but revenge is human and absurdities and complexities are human too and moreover, they make good stories. Love has many facets. You describe it between mother and son, father and son. It lies behind the sacrifice of a son and the sparing of a father. There are also stepfathers and adopted sons, parallel stories, with a twist. It is easy for me to use the word "theme" as if it was all conjured up. It isn't. Assimilation could have taken place just like you describe The love between Nipishish and the wolf, master and animal, for example, may seem romantic but I am sure that it could have happened just like you described. It fits into this pattern of parallelism and has like mother, father and son, antique patterns, for instance Ulysses’ faithful dog, the story about a lion that spares the man who once helped him.
Your vocabulary is enormous with interesting choice of words. I have always had the feeling that verbs of movement increase the tension and thrill, and you do use them.
Just an example:
touched, crept forward, inched forward, slithered forward (349 ff)
"---the wolf angled toward where the man knelt on the lakeshore." (363)
A French word is "---to reconnoiter with the Haudeno village for the presence of Ivar" (19)
Here are some Norse ones that I recognize.
"---one of the females will whelp soon” Compare Sw. infinivite valpa, noun sing en valp, plur valpar (36)
"---the big dog's snout". Sw. sing en snut (37)
"---a demented troll" Sw. sing ett troll (67)
"--- they drug her along Sw. past tense drog, infinitive draga (267)
"---to find where they had lost his spoor. Sw. ett spår (350)
Overwhelming are all the words that have to do with the processes of work among the Indians and the Vikings.
The introduction of the inner monologue in the cursive is new in this third book. It has to do with both language and composition is and makes the characters sly and calculating.
Negative points of view: There are not many. Since I read the first two books a few years ago, I had forgotten about the names, so a table of names would have helped. At times I missed voice of the wise and omniscient narrator. In Death Wind it is more vitally present than in the preceding chapters.
The book and especially Death wind is written with such youthful energy that I suspect it was conceived and existed in various stages of completion long before 2016. If not, you are as vital as a teenager. I look forward to hearing about the genesis and stages of the book.
Tonight there will be a TV program called Vikings in Canada with Pat Sutherland. I have seen it once and am going to do it again. What do you think about her research and findings? According to her the Vikings were great traders and trade is what you mention trade in your books as well. I remember she showed a little bit of a pair of scales as a proof that the Vikings were tradesmen. Scales have been found in Viking graves in Russia and it has been contended that it was the women who used them.
Thank you for publishing this book.
5 February 2017
‘Assimilation : An Axe of Iron Novel' is J.A. Hunsinger's third and final novel in his ‘Axe of Iron’ novel series about the Norse people and their adventures as settlers in the new world. The Viking tale takes place about 1000 years ago in the settlement of Halfdansfjord and surrounding areas, located along the coast of North America on the east coast of James Bay, at the south end of Hudson Bay.
Hunsinger continues with the adventures of Norsemen explorers Halfdan Ingolfsson and Gudbjartur Einarsson, and their families, as well as the native tribes the Naskapi (Cree), Anishinabeg (Ojibwa), and the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois). As historical fiction,‘Assimilation’ presents a possible scenario about what may happened to the Norse people and their settlements during this period.
Assimilation’ delivers a more in-depth story of the native tribes and their impact on the Norse people and their settlements. Readers experience the conflicts, relationships, and integration of the settlers and the native peoples. Gudbjartur, once a prisoner of the Naskapi tribe, has forged an important friendship with them while living among them and adhering to their customs and practices. He goes by the name of Nipishish, meaning Axeman. Halfdan is the Chieftain of the Norse settlement, Halfdansfjord, where he is tasked with overseeing life at the settlement and trying to thwart an impending threat to the settlers and the settlement itself.
Friendships develop between settlers and Naskapi and some of the native tribes fully accept the Norse people. There is an integration of the Norse people with these tribes, particularly settlers like Gudbjartur and Ingerd’s son, Ivar Gudbjartarsson, who chose to stay with his adopted Haudenosaunee parents rather than return to his own Norse people. Readers experience native life, including their customs, rituals, practices, hunting methods, cooking methods, battle tactics, and how the Norse living among them adapted.
Along with forged friendships with the Naskapi and changing and adapting to new circumstances, the major conflict in the story which presents a possible scenario about what may have happened to the Norse people, is the Anishinabeg tribe’s declaration of War with the settlers and their determination to destroy Halfdansfjord.
Hunsinger presents an adventure rich in historical detail, with careful attention paid to customs and practices of both the Norse settlers and the Native tribes. The struggles and threats to the Norse people highlight the difficulties of maintaining a settlement. The impact of loss is a major theme as well as obsessive, brutal revenge that destroys one’s humanity as the result of a traumatic loss. Hunsinger delivers a tale filled with action and adventure giving readers a fascinating look at life of the Norse and native tribes about 1000 years ago. ‘Assimilation: An Axe of Iron Novel' is well worth reading, particularly for those who love historical fiction.
Tracy Roberts, Write Field Services
23 October 2016
Was thrilled to hear about the release of Assimilation: An Axe of Iron Novel by J. A. Hunsinger. I had the pleasure of editing the first two books in this series, but my schedule didn't allow me to work on this last piece of the trilogy.
You can tell that Hunsinger put a lot of time and effort into his research. Hunsinger explains the daily lives of the Northmen in great detail. As you read this book you get the feel that you are actually there. You can see, hear, and feel what the Northmen had to endure to survive. I am just glad that I don't have to do all they did just to have food.
I have to say that before I read The Settlers, An Axe of Iron Novel, I knew next to nothing about the Norse and Viking Age. Not for lack of interest, I just never really thought about it, I guess (a bit of a contradiction, perhaps). In any case, when I read that this book pertained to this period and the exploration of unknown regions, I was highly intrigued!
As historical fiction, the author successfully captures a glimpse of the life of the Norsemen. It becomes quite clear that a great deal of research went into creating the story. The attention to detail is quite remarkable.
Hunsinger creates a scintillating, adventurous tale that happened over one thousand years ago when the Vikings (or Norsemen) settled Greenland during a warm front, and then settled parts of Canada and the upper Midwest of the United States. They were here before Columbus set sail from Spain. They interacted with numerous indigenous Indian tribes and were also a very violent bunch of men. The Dark Ages was a period were there was a lot of constant fighting and warfare, and no one could live peacefully. The Norsk brought that attitude with them to North America.
The Settlers, the first book in the The Settlers, An Axe of Iron Novel, follows a band of Norsemen from Greenland to the shores of North America. The would-be settlers sail the coast of Vinland, finding food and resources to be plentiful, which reinforces their desire to become permanent residents.
As Halfdan Ingolfsson and the men, women, and children who make up his band work to establish a colony, they try to establish relations with the Native Americans. While the Thalmiut welcome the strangers, the Naskapi view them as a threat, and a fringe element of the Norsemen proves them correct. Halfdan turns the troublemakers over to the tribe; justice is swift — and deadly. Halfdan's act of honor establishes an uneasy peace between the natives and the settlers, but it's only a matter of time until hostilities break out again.
Hunsinger not only weaves a fascinating tale of adventure a thousand years past, but he also shows readers the daily lives of the settlers in vivid detail, answering those questions that nag at the back of the mind when one reads historical fiction: How did they preserve their food? How did they deal with sanitation? How would their customs translate to a new land? By the end of the book, readers feel like they've taken part in the hardships and joys of colonization.
Reviewer: Jan Weeks, Weeks Literary, www.weekslit.com
|Alternative Read Reviews|
|Halfdan Ingolfsson and the shipmates accompanying him left Greenland with their minds filled with the stories told by other Northmen—Northmen who had been successful in helping to build two settlements on the eastern coast of North America long before Columbus was born. Halfdan understood the hardships of carving a living space out of virgin territory. He knew about the fights with the area's inhabitants known as Skraelings (thought to have been Indians). As a result, Halfdan wants to go to a different place, hoping to make contact with different Skraelings and try to live peaceably amongst them.|
Author: J.A. Hunsinger Website of Author: www.vinlandpublishing.com Publisher: Vinland Publishers, LLC Website of Publisher: www.vinlandpublishing.com Genre: Historical Fiction Publication Date: May 2008 ISBN: 978-0-9801601-0-9 Length: 400 pages Format: Paperback Reviewer: Lucille P. Robinson
The Settlers, An Axe of Iron Novel
Vinland Publishing (384 pp.) www.vinlandpublishing.com
August 1, 2008
A solid first novel, Axe of Iron offers a comprehensive look into the lives of early Norse explorers who arrived in North America 500 years before Columbus' "discovery."
While school children are no doubt familiar with the rhyme "In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue," few are likely aware that the Vikings predated his arrival on these shores by hundreds of years.
Title: The Settlers, An Axe of Iron Novel
Author: J. A. Hunsinger
Genre: Historical Fiction
Halfdan Ingolfsson is a brave, intelligent leader of men. His second in command, Gudbjartur Einarsson is loyal, invaluable and ruthless. He does what must be done. The two men lead a group of Greenlanders, sometime between the year 997 and 1003, to a new and exciting land. A land filled with game, fish, fresh vegetation and North American natives. Can the two men discover the perfect home for this diversified group of men, women, and children? Will Halfdan decide to take a wife from amongst the women traveling with them? How will they coexist with the natives?
The Settlers, An Axe of Iron Novel
J. A. Hunsinger
Vinland Publishing, LLC www.vinlandpublishing.com
Soft cover 384 pages
It's the details that grab the reader's attention in J.A. Hunsinger's historical novel, Axe of Iron: The Settlers. The book is the first installment in a planned series of stories about the migration of Norsemen Greenlanders to North America. From the introduction, which provides background information, to the brutal ending, Hunsinger uses his extensive knowledge of the history and culture of Norsemen to craft a story that exposes the lives of an ancient people with an admirable sense of adventure and value for community.
Title: The Settlers, An Axe of Iron Novel Author: J.A. Hunsinger Illustrator: Glenda Scheuerman, Colorado Publisher and/or Distributor: Vinland Publishing, LLC/AtlasBooks, Inc. Publisher Website: www.vinlandpublishing.com Pages: 384 ISBN: 978-0-9801601-0-9 Price: $17.95 Publishing Date: 2008 Reader: Bob Spear Rating: 5 hearts
This great historical chronicles the Norse culture of 1008 AD. Six ships of Norse families, including their livestock, horses, and dogs, sail to the American continent. The details of how they lived and supported themselves are both practical and believable.