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The Whale Road (Oathsworn #1)

3.79  ·  Rating Details ·  1,956 Ratings  ·  145 Reviews
A band of brothers, committed only to each other, rides the waves, fighting for the highest bidder, treading the whale road in search of legendary relics.
Life is savage aboard a Viking raiding ship. When Orm Rurikson is plucked from the snows of Norway to brave the seas on the Fjord Elk, he becomes an unlikely member of the notorious crew. Although young, Orm must quickly
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published March 5th 2007 by HarperCollins (first published 2007)
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Well, The Whale Road caught me quite by surprise. I had never heard of Robert Low when I came across this book, but I am glad that I found him.
I loved The Whale Road. Not only for the authors ability to tell a good yarn, but because it made me laugh and shocked me all at once.
It would not do to get too attached to any characters in this story (barring the main character) because Robert Low will keep you on your toes, keep you guessing, keep the cast rolling over.
Most of all the things I liked a
Mr. Matt
May 08, 2013 Mr. Matt rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: hf-vikings, 2013
I am not sure why I did not enjoy this book more. It had a good back bone - a saga-worthy quest for an ancient relic that had ties to both Atilla the Hun and Christ. It had the tension between the decline of the old Gods and the rise of the new White Christ. It had great shield-wall fights. It had dark, ancient tombs where women were sacrificed in terrible pagan rites.

Unfortunately, somehow, it just didn't grab me. I really wanted to like this book and I just can't put my finger on what it was t
It's bloody, it's raw, it's stinky, gruesome and a bit f*king rude. I love a good viking story and even better, I love a good battle.

I had 2 issues with this book, one was that Orm was well educated, clever, smart and also a bit of a smart arse. I think I missed the bits where we got to learn how he became so wise at such a young age. The other was that I'm not certain that in 945ad "f*ck, f*ck, f*ck" was an expression used as commonly as they do in the Oathsworn gang.

Having said that, for the
"Life is savage aboard a Viking raiding ship. When Orm Rurikson is plucked from the snows of Norway to brave the seas on the Fjord Elk, he becomes an unlikely member of the notorious crew. Although young, Orm must quickly become a warrior if he is to survive.

His fellow crew are the Oathsworn---named after the spoken bond that ties them in brotherhood. They fight hard, they drink hard, and they always defend their own.

But times are changing. Loyalty to the old Norse Gods is fading, and the follow
Lee Broderick
Nov 13, 2011 Lee Broderick rated it really liked it
Recommended to Lee by: Terri
Describing a historical novel based around Vikings as being a saga almost seems like a cop-out. A clichéd non-review that damns with faint praise. This really is though: the tale of a legend (I'm assuming, without having yet read the subsequent books) taking his first steps through the making of his story; not only studded with humour but in beautiful, occasionally lyrical, language that is as easy to read as it is a pleasure.

Through the all too brief 350 pages, Orm narrates his own tale with co
Lance Greenfield

The story is fairly good: the sort of plot that you would expect from the likes of Conn Iggulden. However, The Whale Road doesn’t come close to the class of Iggulden, or any other of my favourite historical fiction writers.

I really struggled my way through from beginning to end. There is plenty of action, and most of it is very gory, but the style is tedious. One feels that the author is the proud owner of a book of tenth century Norse names, and is trying to break the record for h
Marko Vasić
Onaj, koga Bernard Cornwell hvali, ne može da bude loš. Štaviše, od Roberta Lowa sam dobio upravo ono što sam i očekivao. Za razliku od Cornwella, u čijem se pisanju oseća aristokratski duh, i koji piše o kraljevima i visokom plemstvu, te je, stoga, i rečnik koji koristi probran, Robert Low je odabrao arhetipske vikinge - zemljoradnike i seljake, te je u tom pogledu, negde, bliskiji Timu Severinu. Ovaj prvi deo sage ne vrvi od krvavih bitaka i otimanja zemlje (što je, po mom mišljenju, odlično i ...more
Oct 29, 2011 Dawn rated it really liked it
At the beginning of the book I thought it was going to be 2 stars but it turned out to be a solid 4 star despite the first 100 pages.

Orm is a young man who has been fostered by his uncle since the age of 5. Incidents with his uncle and a white bear set him on a path with the Oathsworn, a group of Vikings traveling the known world as mercenaries. From reliquary hunters to besiegers of a fortress to treasure hunters, they travel where money and the whale road takes them and we follow Orm from untr
Dull, unimaginative and a little disjointed. I went into this novel hoping for an immersive read, evocative in historic detail and rich plot. You don't get any of that with this book.
Rather than the epic re-telling of a vivid legend, it feels far more like the semi-coherent shamblings of the village elder meandering his way around things he remembers from his past.
The writing style, if you can call it that, is disjointed at times and doesn't do anything to endear you to any of the characters or
Jan 17, 2012 Bobby rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a terrific read. Enjoyed everything about it...especially the end. Had some trouble keeping up with all the characters early on but they were continuously reinforced throughout the tale so you got a lot more familiar as the story proceeds. I hope there is more to this saga as I will certainly follow it. Thanks Mr. Low for the journey!!
Mar 01, 2012 Graham rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good, solid, historical adventure. THE WHALE ROAD is the first in a series by Robert Low concerning the adventures of Orm and the Oathsworn, a band of vicious Vikings whose journeys take them all around the world.

The first thing you notice about this story is the level of violence. It makes Bernard Cornwell's writing look positively tame in comparison. There's death, destruction and hand-to-hand combat on every page, with an emphasis on the visual and visceral. There's also an incredibly high
S.J. Arnott
The adventures of a young Viking, Orm the White Bear Slayer, who joins the Oathsworn, a group of Viking mercenaries as they seek their fortune, specifically the one buried with Atilla the Hun.

I enjoyed reading this, but was slightly blindsided by the intricate plot and the plethora of characters - at any one time I was never quite clear on who was doing what to who, and why, but equally this could be down to my own inattention to detail (I do tend to read quite quickly).

I was also struck by the
R.J. Askew
May 10, 2012 R.J. Askew rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The WHALE ROAD is a thumpingly good viking quest saga set in the mid-tenth century in which the oathsworn crew of the Fjord Elk, led by Einar the dark, rampage violently across the North Sea and then around the Baltic. They follow Hild, a madwoman, into the depths of Russia in search of Attila's burial hoard. Einar the luckless finds his doom in the frenzied climax which leaves young Orm the Bear Slayer to pick up the pieces as the broken band's new jarl (earl).

Dec 25, 2013 John rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The first few pages are challenging -- it was almost like the author was writing through a bit of Scandinavian haze while you have to make sense of a seemingly endless roll of Nordic names. Difficult for regrettably sometimes passive readers (like me) used to reading northern European and Latin cultural names, thoughts, and viewpoints. But I was quickly engaged and the story quickly became a page turner.

Unique for me was that this story is from the perspective of the Scandinavian raiders who spe
Writing 4/5
Imagination 4/5
Plot 4/5
Setting 5/5
Characters 4.5/5

My Overall Enjoyment 5/5

Everything I look for in a book; strong characters, superb writing, intriguing plot, grittiness, realism, violence and action, and extreme plot twists. I never heard of this author until a friend recommended it and I am so glad she did! Not a long book, but it did take awhile to get through. And in this case, that is not a bad thing as I did not want it to end it was so good.

The first night after reading this b
The Shayne-Train
May 24, 2013 The Shayne-Train rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is one of those books that you don't realize you love until you finish it.

I had my doubts going through it. I wanted so much for this to be like Cornwell's Saxon Stories, and I think that was my initial problem.

But this is its own story, and it is told extremely well. The action is nearly non-stop, and the main character is immediately relatable and intriguing.

I will definitely be reading the rest of the series, though I think I shall take a break between books so that the starkness and bru
Arsenovic Nikola
Jan 28, 2017 Arsenovic Nikola rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Knjiga o vikinzima i njihovom potragom za legendarnim blagom Atile hunskog. Prica prati Orma decka koji je ubio velikog belog medveda i dospeo u posadu Ejnara Crnog koji je opsednut time da nadje blogo Atile hunskog. Prica je dobra i brza i lako se cita sto je meni najvaznije. Ima lepih detalja iz istorije vikinga dobar deo price se odvija u ruskim zemljama. Pominju se i hazari i kipcaci i ruski knez Jaropolk. Kraj je pomalo neuobicajen iako donekle moze da se predvidi ipak iznenadi ponekom sitn ...more
Diane Smoak
Mar 02, 2017 Diane Smoak rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good viking tale, written around a young man joining a group of warriors to learn their ways and try to survive a cruel life and eventually become their leader.
Matthew Harffy
Sep 02, 2013 Matthew Harffy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book. Low paints a violent, vivid world of Vikings selling their swords to the highest bidder and scheming to find hidden treasures. The ship's crew would be at home sailing alongside Giles Kristian's Vikings from his Raven series, and there are a lot of similarities between the two writers' stories and characters.

The language in this book is often exquisite. Low shows moments of real brilliance in places.

He also suffers from trying to stuff too much into one book. The main charac
Jorgen Schäfer
The historical novel The Whale Road by Robert Low tells the first adventure of Orm the bear-slayer. Intrigues at home force young Orm to join the band of oathsworn under Einar the Black. After some fights, the oathsworn learn about the legendary hoard of Attila the Hun. A quest for riches begins.

The Whale Road is the first novel in the Oathsworn series. While the plot itself is fictitious, most of the little everyday tidbits in the book give a good impression of life in viking times. The book do
Feb 25, 2015 Kiwi rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The book is set around 965AD and tells a tale of a band of Viking men on a quest to find the legendary treasure of the Volsungs then buried in Attila’s howe (buried tomb).
The plot has some early hard to believe events (for instance I think unlikely that villagers would think of “stringing up” the corpse of an arsonist when the town (Birka) is ablaze). Nonetheless, the storyline improves and becomes full of action; there are plenty of fights blow-by-blow accounts if you like that kind of thing.
Sadly, I didn't finish this book.

I had some difficulty getting into the story. The characters were not fleshed out enough. It felt like the author was introducing character after character, but I couldn't picture them as there wasn't a whole lot of description. I felt nothing for them, and nothing for the main character's circumstances. Being written in 1st POV only made the lack of connection much more obvious.

I did read a few reviews while still deciding if I should continue. I was hoping so
Fredrik Nath
Oct 30, 2010 Fredrik Nath rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As a writer myself I'm aware of all the pitfalls of using -ly adverbs in your dialogue and plotting without using three acts etc. This book which sufferes from various similar problems is just stunning despite any writing flaws.
I learned a lot from reading this book, one of them is that when you have a stunning story to tell and an excellent voice, the story takes the reader and transports them to where you are going and they don't notice any of the narrative flaws.
This is one such book and I th
Lady V.
Oct 08, 2014 Lady V. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm rereading this amazing series after years, and I'm happy to notice that my opinion and feelings towards Orm's story remain the same, if not better.
Robert Low is one of my favorite historical authors and his unique writing style (which I can't get enough!) takes me back to 965 AD, not only as if I were listening to someone tell me their life story, but also living it. I'm there beside the Oathsworn in every battle and journey. I see their faces, their struggles and I laugh and suffer with th
Jun 26, 2011 Allancarlson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Kyle
Recommended to Allancarlson by: My wife
Stunning is the best word I can find to describe this little find. Serendipity as it were, on my wife's part when looking for a Father's day gift for me.

This is not only storytelling made sublime, it grips the reader's imagination by pulling one into the psyche of each of it's characters. Hard to say whether the plot or the characters are more can only put your money on the hero and hope for the best because even he is expendable. The story here is central, but so too is deve
Deborah Ideiosepius  omnivorous reader
I loved it! It was fun, well written, well researched. The descriptions of the sea voyagers on the whale road were so vivid that I felt my own beard icing over... (Only I have no beard, being female and I live in the tropics).

It had a likeable and believable main character - actually all the characters that we saw a lot of were utterly believable. I think the realism of the time and place is attributable to the author being a Viking enactor (according to his acknowledged)and the clarity with wh
John Snow
Mar 22, 2013 John Snow rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Within the genre of historical fiction,"The Whale Road" by Robert Low is an extraordinarily good book. The story of the oathsworn band of warrior really stands out among the modern written tales I have read from the Viking age. I'm impressed by Low's knowledge of the period, his descriptions of weapons and fighting, and especially his distinctive interpretation of the Viking warriors' mood and attitude.

"The Whale Road" tells a thrilling story in a rough language, at the same time brutal and humo
Sep 17, 2013 Tyler rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: robert-low
I had a hard time getting into the book. I read a few pages and stopped. Came back some time later, read a few more and stopped again. This go 'round, I found it more enjoyable and managed to stick with it from page 30 on. I can't really explain why (not in the mood, slow start, not sure) I couldn't initially get into this book but now that it's over I'd certainly give it upwards of 4-4.5 stars. A great, well researched Viking saga (even if the Hun Horde and the Spear of Destiny was a little far ...more
J.R. Tomlin
Nov 16, 2011 J.R. Tomlin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love this novel. I'll just start with that. It was the one where I discovered Robert Low and as far as I'm concerned he is now THE pre-eminent Historical Fiction writer.

The novel isn't necessarily for the faint of heart and if what you like is the novel of manners, give this a pass. It has violence, obscenities and sex. They're Vikings, you see. The novel is well-written and has an amazing dry humor. It took me about 50 pages to get hooked and then I couldn't put it down.

I now own the entire
May 04, 2013 Judith rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked it. A young man grows up in a group of warriors, vikings, seeking treasure. The group adventures to England and Scotland and to the heart of Europe, looking for a special hill of silver buried with Attila. There's a whiff of the supernatural, which i did not like too well, but fortunately did not take over the story.
The fighting scenes are not too gory, but the scenes aboard the ship give a good taste of the hardships these tough men endured. I compared it to Bernard Cornwell's first of
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All About Vikings: Whale Road: General Discussion 1 17 Jan 20, 2015 06:10AM  
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Robert Low is a Scottish journalist and historical novelist, with novels based on the Viking Age. He was war correspondent in Vietnam and also several other locations, including Sarajevo, Romania and Kosovo, until "common-sense, age and the concerns of my wife and daughter prevailed". Now he writes novels full time. He's also a historical reenactor performing with the Scotland-based group, the Vik ...more
More about Robert Low...

Other Books in the Series

Oathsworn (5 books)
  • The Wolf Sea (Oathsworn, #2)
  • The White Raven (Oathsworn, #3)
  • The Prow Beast (Oathsworn, #4)
  • Crowbone (Oathsworn #5)

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“By Odin's Hairy Arse!” 5 likes
“We were still on the whale road, in the wind that keened and thrummed the ropes.” 2 likes
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