I generally try to read anything by Lars Walker as I find him to be a skilled and interesting writer. This includes his historical fiction (a genre I am not a big fan of).
So when I saw he had released Hailstone Mountain for Kindle I picked it up. Hailstone Mountain is the second book in this series (The Erling Skjalgsson Saga) that I have read (the first being West Oversea).
In the latest entry in the saga of Erling Skjalgsson, the 11th Century Norwegian chieftain is struck by a deadly curse, and must journey north along with his friends in order to crush it at its source. Meanwhile Freydis, niece of the smith Lemming, is kidnapped by the servants of a mysterious, ancient cannibalistic race who dwell in secret in the mountains of the north. Once again the Irish priest Father Ailill narrates a tale of struggle, faith, endurance, and supernatural peril.
It took me awhile to get into this one (partly because I have been in a reading funk lately and partly because I think it starts a bit slow) but it really picked up speed and turned into an interesting story
There is an interesting hook (the mythological type beings known as the Children of the Mountain) spurts of both action and suspense as well as some philosophical musings on stories, relationships, faith and more. Lars creates some memorable characters and has a way with words as well. The way he crafts these stories he really places you into the world in which his characters live; IMO he gets the style, mindset and rhythms correct so that the characters and their environment match and seem authentic.
As is often the case with series, this an episodic feeling rather than a tightly wrapped narrative. You can read this as a stand along but the characters and setting have a lot more depth if you have read the series. Father Ailill in particular might be a little hard to read without the background from the other books.
If you like historical fiction I highly recommend these books but if, like me, you just enjoy good story telling you can enjoy them as well.