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Smile of the Wolf

4.22  ·  Rating details ·  183 ratings  ·  37 reviews
Eleventh-century Iceland. One night in the darkness of winter, two friends set out on an adventure but end up killing a man. Kjaran, a traveling poet who trades songs for food and shelter, and Gunnar, a feared warrior, must make a choice: conceal the deed or confess to the crime and pay the blood price to the family. But their decision leads to a brutal feud: one man is ou ...more
Hardcover, 416 pages
Published July 12th 2018 by Head of Zeus
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Average rating 4.22  · 
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Amalia Gavea
‘’But in my country the people are warriors even in death. Our ghosts are not shadow and air, but walking flesh. They wield their weapons with as much strength as they did in life, and more bravely, for they have nothing left to fear.’’

Iceland, 11th century. Life is harsh and the people are even harsher. The Viking age has come to an end and Gunnar, a warrior and a family man, has adjusted to the conditions of an inhospitable but magnificent land. Kjaran, a poet, a bard that lives on the hospi
Sonja Arlow
Strange, tragic and starkly beautiful.

11th century Iceland is a land with no kings, no rulers but a people governed by honour.

Kjaran is a skald, a travelling poet living with a different family each year. He pays for their hospitality by singing songs, telling stories and working alongside the family.

The winter he spends with Gunnar and his family a rumour takes hold of a recently departed farmer who has come back as a ghost to haunt his own land. Gunnar, ever the adventurous warrior vows to kil
The feud began in winter, when a dead man rose from the earth.

3.5 stars. I loved the writing in this book, poetic but not flowery at all. The descriptions were all perfect for 10th century Iceland, almost brutal in its beauty.
"Frozen water does not lie silent. It moans like a dying man. It barks like a mad dog. And when the wind runs across it, one can hear the sound of scratching fingers, of all the dead men that the waters has swallowed, begging to be let out."

Inspired by the world of the Icel
Mar 19, 2018 rated it liked it
3.5 stars. Tim Leach's impressive debut novel, The Last King of Lydia, had me excited to find a new author to follow. I was less excited by his second book, The King and the Slave, but enjoyed reading it. Authors who write such excellent first novels give themselves a hard act to follow. Tim Leach writes well and his stories are gripping but I feel the same way about Smile of the Wolf as I did about The King and the Slave. I enjoyed it but feel mildly disappointed.

This saga-style tale is narrate
Jennifer (JC-S)
Apr 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
‘There is no place that is so lifeless, so isolated, as our island in the depths of a winter’s night.’

One night, in the darkness of Iceland’s winter, two friends set out to hunt down a ghost. They ended up killing a man. Kjaran, a travelling poet (a skald) who trades songs for food and shelter and his friend Gunnar, a feared warrior, choose to conceal the killing instead of confessing the crime and paying the blood price to the dead’s man family. They make this choice for what they consider to b

Back in 2013, I read – and very much enjoyed – Tim Leach’s first book, The Last King of Lydia, which tells the story of King Croesus and his eventual vanquisher, Cyrus. In my review on Goodreads (as my reading the book pre-dated this blog), I commented how much I enjoyed the author’s prose style and looked forward to reading whatever he produces next. Well, it’s been quite a long wait but I’ve finally got to read another of Tim’s books and I certainly wasn’t disappointed.

Rather than 6th century
Jun 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
11th Century, early days of Iceland; only 100 years after the first Althing. A travelling poet and his host for the winter kill a ghost to find out the ghost was a man. This starts a feud, the poet spends three years in exile and the blood letting continues. This is a book that is part Icelandic saga and part wild wild West but with ice.
The plot is relatively simple so for the book to be enjoyable it has to be able to paint a realistic environment. For most of the book I was looking for a blanke
Aug 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018, favoritos, 2019
2019: tenia miedo de leer este libro porque solo lo había leído el año pasado y a lo mejor el recordar más de la historia le quitaba emoción pero no a pasado para nada.
Ver como cometían error tras otro sabiendo el final a sido una tortura muy satisfactoria y a diferencia de mi primera lectura donde no le prestaba mucha atención a las partes en segunda persona esta vez las supe apreciar (y sufrir por ellas)
Si hay algo de lo que estoy cansada es historias de "venganza" do
Charlotte Render
Apr 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I'm part way through this book, and every time I read it I have Liam Neeson's voice in my head reading it. I don't know what to do about it other than continue in this fashion.

Great book.

Provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Terry Tyler
Sep 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've been lucky lately - this is the third novel I've read in the last month that competes for the title 'favourite book of the year.' It's a gem, and I loved it.

Smile of the Wolf tells the story of Kjaran, a wandering storyteller, and the consequences of one lonely night when he and his friend, Gunnar, set out to hunt a ghost. Instead, and unintentionally, they kill a man. The ensuing feud colours the rest of their lives and those of the people they love.

I'm sure the word 'stark' has been used
A well told story of a blood-feud in Iceland, written in the stylings of the medieval Icelandic Sagas.

Our narrator, Kjaran the Landless, a poet, a skald, a wandering minstrel, does what he does best, he tells us - the reader - the story of how he became involved in a bitter feud, and the fatal consequences of all those touched by it. To tell you more, would be to spoil the story, and like all good Viking-age poets, Kjaran must weave his tale at his own pace, revealing little by little, but never
Sara Olmo
Jul 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Una historia sobre duelos, amor, amistad, lealtad, honor y sobre todo venganza.

La novela está narrada de una manera muy peculiar, ya que en ciertos momentos el protagonista Kiarán se dirige al lector, bueno más bien a la persona a la que le está contando su vida ( al final de la novela se revela a quien se la cuenta ).
Además el libro está dividido en 3 partes:

-El pleito.
-El proscrito.
-La venganza.

Todos los personajes son entrañables, hay momentos bastante duros, en los cuales podemos conocer a
The Idle Woman
Jun 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
I was absolutely thrilled when I was offered a review copy of Tim Leach’s new novel. His first two books told the story of the Lydian king Croesus, a lyrical tale of a man who falls from majesty to slavery, and learns to live again, drawn from the Histories of Herodotus. This third book takes a new direction, unfolding among the icy crags and rolling valleys of 10th-century Iceland. It’s a tale of revenge; blood; vindictiveness; loyalty; and honour; but, more than anything else, it’s a story of ...more
Alex Bon
Dec 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: terror
RIslandia del siglo X. La tierra del hielo perpetuo; los vikingos han llegado en sus barcos a una isla inhóspita, agreste, hostil. Con el propósito de ser libres, de no servir a ningún rey. Dejan los saqueos para convertirse en granjeros. Sin embargo la libertad les costará encadenarse a una sola ley: honor y venganza por honor.
Sobre este panorama Kiaran nos narra un relato sobrecogedor. Kiarán Sin Tierra, escaldo (cantante y trovador, poeta, contador de cuentos) un hijo de esclavo, sin derecho
Oct 11, 2018 rated it liked it
Not usually my preferred genre but thought I'd try something different based on good reviews of this book.

10th century Iceland and a man outlawed as a result of taking the rap for a murder ventures into the unforgiving landscape of Iceland's mountains to serve out his time and then return to the woman he loves.

The bleak environment and desperate nature of Kjaran's predicament is beautifully captured. However the blood lust that runs through the novel, albeit due to loyalty and honour, made it ha
Marc Salas
Mar 20, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A partir de la mitad el libro pega un enorme subidón, desde ese punto he intentado acabarlo cuanto antes para conocer el final. Ambientación vikinga, personajes bien llevados y trama con giros inesperados. Leach consigue recrear todo esto con una narrativa que me ha parecido muy elegante y descriptiva.
Alejandro Kauderer Navas
Increíble, ha habido momentos en los que leía 30 páginas y ni me daba cuenta. No me esperaba que estuviera a la altura de engancharme tantísimo.
Aug 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
If you love Iceland, historical fiction, sagas and Winter, then this is for you! (:

Honestly, that's all I really knew before getting into it, which made the reading experience completely unpredictable.

"Frozen water does not lie silent. It moans like a dying man. It barks like a mad dog. And when the wind runs across it, one can hear the sound of scratching fears, of all the dead men that the water has swallowed, begging to be let out."

It's tenth century Iceland, Kjaran is our main protagoni
Emma Cox
Jan 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
Bleak and beautiful

“But this is a memory like a ghost. Again and again I cut the ground for its grave and cover it with heavy earth. Still it rises, still it walks.”

I picked this on a whim from the library as I do enjoy tales with a flavour of the Norse sagas.

This tale follows a skald and a warrior who go to hunt a ghost, but the night ends with death and a secret. In a land without kings, honour and courage keeps order. For it is better to die than to live the life of a coward. From this unfo
Lee-anne Fox
May 01, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In the style of the sagas

Such a good tale spanning the years and sharing the ebb and flow of feuding, attack and counter-attack. Joyous and melancholy by turns, and with a lyrical portrayal - befitting a skald - of the lands and the folk that love them...and the lengths to which they will go for each other, and for that land. Initially I was dubious about reading a tale set in such a distant past - my love for all things Icelandic is very much in the now - but I'm so glad I did, and there was ne
R.J. Rosatte
Mar 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Icelandic Sagas brought to life.

I have travelled the length and breadth of Iceland and I have read many of the Icelandic Sagas (there are over seven hundred, passed down over a thousand years ago). The author's style and language are a fitting homage to the stories of the heroic men and women who settled an unforgiving land. Blending fact with fiction in an entertaining manner, Tim tells the story of one man, a skald or poet and takes us on a riveting journey through the years of his life. O
Aug 14, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Set in Iceland some decades after the Vikings first landed with a view to create a society away from the restrictions of kings and the raiding way of life. But there's new challenges to life, as two friends discover when they inadvertently kill a man thinking him a ghost. Unwisely they cover the truth of their deed - a crime to their society worse than any other - and the story unfolds from there... Superbly written in the first person and rich in setting, they consequences of their misdeed domi ...more
Rosie Amber
Jul 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Smile Of The Wolf is historical fiction set in eleventh century Iceland written in the style of a story handed down through the generations, told as a winter past-time.

This is the tale of two men: Kjaran a poet, singer or skald, who sings in exchange for food and shelter, and Gunnar, an ex-warrior, now a father and farmer. One night the pair set out to hunt a ghost. Instead, they kill a man. Under Icelandic law they should pay the man’s family a blood-price, but instead they try to hide the murd
Jun 19, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lo que más me ha gustado de este libro es que un poco diferente a otros libros de vikingos que he leído. En realidad, los personajes son antiguos vikingos o descendientes de antiguos vikingos asentados en Islandia. Y creo que la ambientación en dicho país es otro de sus puntos fuertes. La historia trata sobre el desarrollo de un pleito y sus consecuencias, con sangre que se paga con más sangre. Muy bueno el final también.
May 29, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My record seems to be stuck in a groove. 3.5*. I was going for a 4 until the last couple paragraphs, the absolute end. I was like: NO. Not ever. Sorry, I like plausible.

It is a well written story, and a good story. Decided to forgive the ridiculous last page and stay with the rounded up. But it's a 3.5. (70%. Not as lackluster as 60%, not as well done as 80%.)
Ruth Hogger
Aug 05, 2019 rated it liked it
I wanted to like it more than I did. There is a certain beauty to the stark simple language used, but I felt many characters were left flat. Some of the final elements of the plot could have been better developed throughout the book to give more emotional depth. Gets more interesting as it progresses, but still left feeling a bit flat and disappointed.
Gem BookEater
Dec 25, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A subtle and savage saga.

The ice may thaw in days gone by but the fire of the feud never dies.
All the ugliness of pride is shown within but dressed with glory of poetry. A tale to read beside winter's fire.
Marina Muñoz
3,5 ⭐ Me ha sorprendido mucho este libro ya que he aprendido muchísimas cosas sobre una cultura desconocida para mi. La historia que nos cuenta te atrapa en algunos momentos aunque en otros se vuelve un poco pesada. En general ha sido un buen libro.
ann white
Mar 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

An absolutely fascinating story read in the style of an Icelandic saga. The words are beautiful, rhythmic and very emotive (especially the ending).
Jose Maria
Apr 17, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting book to discover the way the vikings lived in Iceland in the middle ages.
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Writer, climber, whisky drinker, chess dabbler and general purpose layabout. London exile currently encamped in the North and loving it. I've studied and taught creative writing at the University of Warwick and worked in bookshops in London and Greece.

If you'd like to know any more about me or my books, just ping me a message. Thanks for stopping by!

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