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Drowning is only the beginning...

Edda Gretasdottir is a raider, a fell-handed shield-maiden, feared along every coast. Hers is a life woven in battle scars.

But she never wanted to walk the warrior's path. All she wanted was freedom, to earn enough gold to buy her family their own remote farm, and to escape their oppressive chieftain. Now, she has enough plunder so that she can finally hang up her shield and live in peace.

That peace is stolen from Edda, however, when raiders burn her home, destroy all that she loves, and toss her, wounded and bleeding, into the ravenous ocean.

But the fates are cruel and this is not the end for Edda: she rises from the bloody surf as a Windborn, a cursed warrior whose supernatural gifts are a poor exchange for everything she has lost.

Fuelled by rage and armed with strange new powers Edda will hunt for whoever sent the raiders, for whoever is responsible for taking everything from her. She will show them the sharp edge of her axe... or die trying.

Windborn is a dark, character-driven Norse fantasy packed with emotion, deadly foes, and vicious battles.

558 pages, Paperback

Published March 1, 2021

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About the author

Alex S. Bradshaw

3 books15 followers
Alex S. Bradshaw grew up in Kent in the UK and spent much of his childhood hiding (sometimes under tables) and reading a book.

He has always been a fan of epic stories (as well as dinosaurs and cake) so it came as no surprise to anyone that he went on to study Classics and Ancient History at university.

Now Alex has turned his hand to making epic stories of his own.

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Displaying 1 - 16 of 16 reviews
Profile Image for Lukasz.
1,224 reviews195 followers
June 23, 2021
Windborn is Alex Bradshaw's debut novel, and it is an intriguing first work. Its main character, Edda Gretasdottir, has much more to offer than just a shield and ax. All she wanted out of life was a farm and freedom from the oppressive chief of her clan's oppressive chieftain. She got killed instead.

Okay, not really, but it's complicated. What matters is that she got superpowers in the process. She didn't ask for them, but now that she has them, she's going to use them to get revenge. Her narrative is fueled by rage and a short temper that gets her embroiled in something much, much bigger, and more dangerous.

Windborn has a lot of coolness to offer and display. With its Norse superheroes using elemental powers to wreak havoc and win battles, and Edda's internal turmoil the book is never lacking action, adventure, intrigue, and suspense. On the other hand, I felt the middle part was bloated and slightly repetitive. I could do with a few fights less, but it's just me, I guess.

But it's just a minor criticism. Windborn is consistently well-written, entertaining, and held aloft by cool ideas, immersive setting, and compelling characters.
Profile Image for Sarah.
Author 17 books411 followers
January 3, 2022

I’ve been trying to decide when the best time to talk about this book is, and I think I’ve decided it’s now, because I’m tired of not talking about it.

Before I get into this review, you need to know something. Reader, I edited Windborn, so I am a bit biased in what I think about it. Keep that in mind. I truly love my job, and I truly want all of my authors to succeed. I like to shout about their books when they are coming out, so all of you can know how amazing they are, as well.

Windborn is Alex S. Bradshaw’s first book. I knew when I saw the few pages, I wanted in on this project. I am not hugely into Norse mythology, but every now and again, a Norse-inspired epic fantasy will come along that will just wow me. This was one such book. Once I saw the first few pages, I knew this one was something really special, and I’d do just about anything to get in on a project that looks this promising.

So, with a deal struck, Alex sent me the manuscript and I started working.

The first thing I noticed was the prose. Bradshaw has a way with writing that is descriptive with an edge of lyrical that I loved. The scenery came to life, but more, so did the emotions. In fact, that was one of my favorite parts of this book. It’s impossible to not feel. Edda is a character that is full of passion, and that passion can take many different forms throughout the book, but it is always there. You’ll ride her highs, and you’ll feel her lows. She’s not someone you sit back and enjoy from a distance. Edda is someone you experience. She got right in my blood and started haunting me. More real than real, she was an absolutely stunningly crafted character.

If you know anything about me, you’ll know that my favorite books are the ones that make me feel, and this book actually had me wiping away tears in a few parts. It isn’t often that a book I’m editing makes me cry, and when that happens, I tend to really savor the moment.

I have a speech I give the authors I work with a lot. Picture a big chasm. You have the writer on one side, and the reader on the other. The writer’s job is to build a bridge with their story, so somehow the two can meet in the middle. Sometimes, a truly special book will come along and the writer will build a bridge, and instead of meeting in the middle, the reader just walks over to the writer’s side of the chasm and camps there. Those are the special books. Those are the books that live, and breathe both on and off the page.

Those are the books like Windborn.

Edda is an interesting character with an unforgettable narrative voice, due, largely, to what she has to endure. Bradshaw takes you into the book on a high. Riding all of Edda’s hopes and dreams, feeling her burning love for her husband, and the promise in her future. Then, something happens, and all of that changes. In a blink, she loses literally everything. While she tries to make her way through her grief, you see her determination and feel her pain. Then, another tragedy strikes and she loses even more. She loses things she doesn’t even know she had. Everything changes, and Edda has to tap into a new, heretofore undiscovered well of strength.

From this point on (which is pretty early in the book), Edda’s story changes. Edda becomes Windborn, or a cursed warrior with supernatural abilities who is, essentially, a sort of slave. Determined to strike back at the people who cost her so much, she ends up embroiled in a struggle she never saw coming, with her own thirst for vengeance powering her. Again, you see Bradshaw’s power for prose, not just in description, but in Edda’s emotions, the constant tug-of-war she has with herself, her struggle to find her own reason to keep going in a world that no longer feels like her own, being a stranger in her own skin.

I seriously, seriously felt for Edda. Her story touched every part of me, and it was impossible to not feel torn apart as I read not only about her outer journey but her inner one as well. I think Bradshaw did an incredible job balancing the two, never skipping over one to highlight the other. In summation, this book is as much about the internal as the external, and I absolutely loved it for that.

There is a lot of action in Windborn, as you’d expect from a book based on a bunch of warriors. Some of it is unpredictable. I’m about 99% sure I cursed him eternally for some plot twists I didn’t see coming. There were some parts that were brutal and made me shrink back a bit. The ending is bittersweet and perfect for the story being told. Friends, the ending made me feel that burning deep inside, that sort of keening, hollow ache. Why? Because it was over, and I just wasn’t ready yet. I’m still not ready, truthfully. I want to go back and read this book for the first time all over again. I want to experience the highs and lows of Edda’s tale with eyes that have never seen it.

It’s the kind of book that amazed me so much, it took a long, long time for me to move past it. In fact, I edited this book months ago, and I still find myself thinking about it. Just the other day, I was cooking dinner and the random thought, “I wonder what Edda is doing right now” popped into my head. I mean, that’s how real this book was. I edited it, and I lived it, and I breathed it, and now that it’s over I’m still not quite okay with that.

In fact, Alex Bradshaw, I think you and I need to have a conversation, because I need more of this series, and I will do just about anything to be the person to edit it. I’m putting that out there in the world, because that’s, right now, what I want to get out of it.

This book is truly special, and I honestly cannot wait for all of you to experience the surreal, incredible, wild ride that is Windborn.

Windborn releases on April 28. Right now you can pre-order it for $.99. I suggest you do that, because it is important to support authors (pre-orders are how you hug an author without invading their personal space). It’s also important because this book truly is amazing, and I really want it to explode on the charts.

Alex Bradshaw is an author you need to watch.

Alex, I need to read the next book. Like, yesterday.

Profile Image for Jennifer (bunnyreads).
449 reviews65 followers
August 12, 2021
I read this for SPFBO. More about the contest and links at the bottom.

Norse inspired fantasy is something I am mostly unfamiliar with outside of Thor and some Johanna Lindsey romances from the 80’s so I was looking forward to Windborn for giving me something different.

The story follows Edda- a woman who is drowning in sorrow over the loss of her husband and is now trying to come to terms with being brought back as a Windborn.
The Windborn are resurrected warriors that come back with gifts like teleportation, healing, Ice or fire magic, and sometimes even affinity to animals- really the possibilities are only limited by imagination.
Windhunters, hunt the wind, trying to create these warriors which is how our heroine came about (it’s a bit more complicated, and as simple as that, at the same time).

Edda is full of grief, and burning with the desire for revenge. It took me a while to warm up to her because of that grief, which is heavy and prominent throughout much of the story, but also because of her decisions which could be impetuous and frustrating – rushing in, spurred by anger, making me want to yell at her for being all kinds of a fool.
I did appreciate that their lost relationship wasn’t forgotten easily but I felt a little disconnected to them as a couple, despite meeting them together in the beginning. I think I just wanted a few more scenes of them together in flashback and less thoughts about what they did, so I could grieve along with her… I am probably making no sense at all.

Sometimes it’s the small things, like the quiet moments of down-time that win a character over for me. Which that was the case for me and Edda.
The ice-skating scene (also the dress choosing scene) and the friendship you could feel growing between Edda and Valna was my probably my favourite scene in the whole book, and went a long way in showing me the growth in Edda, from grieving widow--to an Edda, who seemed to be healing and moving on; while still burning a flame of revenge in her heart.
I absolutely loved the women friendships in this story. What a treat it was to have strong, capable ladies, bonding, and not a catty one among the bunch.

There were some fun battles, with creative uses of their gifts on the fly and the laws made for interesting stumbling blocks along the way. I enjoyed this though I sometimes found the laws a bit frustrating, on the characters behalf.
Mostly I think that it was that it was very unusual to read a story with characters that walked the line so tightly on the right side of the law, when that law is so obviously unfair to them, but makes total sense to have in place in other ways- just because of the nature of these people’s gifts… it’s a weird line to have to straddle in the story. I am still not sure how I feel about it.

I liked how complete this was as a story, and how it feels like you can say goodbye to these characters and be satisfied with their ending, but also know if Alex Bradshaw ever followed-up, you’d want to jump in and find out what’s new with them right away.

Great Story!

SPFBO score 7.7-8 or 4 stars
4 stars (6.5-8/10)

I read this for SPFBO. Go here to find out more about SPFBO contest and to find links to all the participating bloggers/authors and reviews.

Phase one is here-

Team reviews at Fantasy Book Critic
Profile Image for Alex.
114 reviews24 followers
December 9, 2021
I really enjoyed this Norse inspired world from Alex S Bradshaw that brings a real fresh twist to the largely Vikings-inspired genre.

There are a lot of parallels with Norse Mythological beliefs (the belief system sort of is Norse mythology) – a nameless God is even called The Trickster God. There are differences and variations however that show Bradshaw has made the right decision in carving out his own with a very strong inspiration, rather than using the existing mythology. The best of both if you will.

When a fallen warrior dies, sometimes in the right conditions they’ll become Windborn, with different superhuman abilities from one Windborn to the next. In this respect it blends your typical Viking revenge tale with Marvel like Norse superheroes, and this is handled really well. It adds that extra dynamic that makes this book really unique and well thought out.

While you might expect these super Vikings to rule the kingdoms, they serve only as pawns, as servants for the rulers in power. This is because when you become Windborn, you lose everything – titles, land, status and perhaps most importantly, freedom. Because you have to die to become Windborn, they are viewed by society and by law as being dead, basically.

As a result, the best they can hope for is to gain a prominent position in the service of a powerful king. Refusing to serve gives them a status as an outlaw and everything that entails – usually death. Permanently this time.

This makes things interesting because even the good guys abide by these laws, whereas the antagonist, Hraki believes the Windborn should enjoy more power and status.

The book excels in its antagonists, of which three stand out in particular for different reasons and I really enjoyed hating two of them!

One of the main themes is revenge and I feel Bradshaw really builds the tempo and the stakes to make you more and more emotionally invested, desperate for our protagonist Edda to succeed. From the start, our relationship with her is strong and relatable and we really feel her loss and grief that stays with her throughout the book, driving her on.

It makes us emotionally invested at the start, though I did think after this maybe the next 20-30% of the book moved a little more slowly.

Perhaps this is necessary to set up the remainder though, and somewhere leading up to the 60% mark everything hurtles along at speed, with a full on entertainment factor full of action, vengeance hunting, axe blades and polar bears (and a very good dog).

Towards the end of the book a very brutal execution hits you out of nowhere. There are dark themes sure, but I was still surprised by it! So readers who don’t like full on brutality might want to skip the scene.

Overall, this was an extremely competent debut that does something new with Norse Fantasy and felt really fresh. The writing style and narrative voice is so professional you’d think this was a seasoned writer of 10 books – maybe part of the credit can go to the editor, Sarah Chorn – but I was seriously impressed with how well it flows. Great work Mr. Bradshaw, and I look forward to reading more from you in the future.
Profile Image for J.E. Hannaford.
Author 5 books23 followers
May 8, 2021
You know when a book is special, because you put it down and message everyone you know, telling them to go and buy it — even if they don’t usually read fantasy.
Then you buy another copy and send it to your father.

That’s how good this book is. Except, actually I started messaging people halfway through. I loved every word of this book, from the first sentence, to the last. If i could give it six stars, I would.

Edda is ready to quit raiding. Worn and fed up, she just wants to follow her dreams of a quiet life with her husband. The story told in first person gives us an intimate view into her world. She is the most relatable, reluctant heroine I’ve read in a long time, and I want to share a drink with her.
Profile Image for Peter.
217 reviews67 followers
April 26, 2021
Absolutely incredible! I have to say that this is one of the best books that I have read this year, it's wonderful. If you ever read this, then just let Alex pull you in to the Norse Saga of a Windorn. Worthy of the great Norse saga's perhaps, Edda's story was amazing and as I have said before Norse inspired fantasy is very close to my heart.

A full review will be on my blog soon as part of the SOT Tours Book Blitz, this is easily however going in to my recommended reading.
Profile Image for S. Bavey.
Author 5 books26 followers
April 27, 2021
First of all let me say that this is one of my favourite books that I have read so far in 2021. I absolutely loved it and highly recommend it.

Windborn is a Norse inspired fantasy set in a time of oaths, traditions and rituals. A cold, hard time of vengeance, when Saga stories are carved into whalebone arches and doorways and a warrior’s exploits are carved upon their shield. The stark, feudal world in which the story is set is described very well by the author and the beauty of the fjords and the surrounding countryside is easily imagined.

The story is told in first person from Edda Gretasdottir’s point of view. At the beginning of the story, Edda and her husband Bjolfur are raiders during summertime and tenant farmers of a landowner called Dagnur Olafson the rest of the year. They’re hoping to earn enough through raiding to get their own farm and escape from Dagnur’s mean-spirited miserliness.

We are introduced to the Windborn of the title during a raid which Edda and Bjolfur are taking part in for Dagnur. Windborn are warriors who have died and been resurrected by the Winds:

"...the gods destroyed the Giants’ bodies and trapped their souls as the Winds. Traders, ignorant of the Winds’ true nature, called them the northern lights and Ertlanders thought them demons and called them the dancing sky fire. Whatever you called them, their power was obvious."

The first Windborn we meet are fearsome warriors with supernatural powers. Dalla Thyrisdottir can move objects with her mind - knives and axes float around her as she walks, whereas Finnr Gellirson the “Sky Treader” can fly. In addition to their specific superpower each Windborn has the strength of five to ten ordinary warriors.

Edda’s husband is lost to a brutal storm on the voyage home and her grief takes over and determines her story arc from that point onwards.
Her grief is described as feeling like a crow inside her rib cage, the feathers get in the way of her throat, while the claws squeeze her heart. There are many instances of black feathers being mentioned inside her, this imagery becomes a kind of theme for her character. Edda is a very likeable character, and through the first person perspective of the novel, we get to know the depths of her grief for her husband and her sheer determination in the face of everything she has lost. She is a kind and loyal, supportive friend and a brave and relentless warrior.

Edda takes a runestone down to the cliffs in order to throw it into the ocean and make Bjolfur one of the “Blessed drowned”. Before she can do so she discovers a band of Wind-hunters, raiders who kill in the hopes of making new Windborn warriors to serve their master, King Hraki. They overpower Edda and toss her over the cliffs before burning down her house. The throw from the cliffs kills Edda, and soon after she is resurrected as an ice-wielding badass Windborn warrior. She wants to hide this information from everyone especially Dagnur:

"If he found out that I was Windborn then I would become another prize to be paraded in front of his peers. He wouldn’t waste me herding chickens. I would become a tool to him, nothing more."

There is a heartwarmingly loyal friendship between the shield sisters Fjola and Edda - Fjola accompanies Edda to the Althing to appeal against Dagnur’s decision that she not get Bjolfur’s share of the hoard from the raid he died in. She also doesn’t think she should have to pay to rebuild her house which was destroyed by the Wind-hunters. At the Althing, Fjola discovers Edda’s Windborn status when Edda fights Soren, the Windborn who kicked her off the cliff. Edda wins but has drawn attention to her powers. They await the law keeper from their village, Ingvar, to help Edda make her case before the High King.

Meanwhile, a Windborn who can fly, Runar, falls from the sky, exhausted from fighting King Hraki’s band of Windborn, who have attacked King Erling’s land out of season, which is unlawful. Windborn cannot earn anything or own anything - they are legally dead. They need to be sworn to a household and for the lord to give them the things they need. Edda decides she would like to return to King Erling’s land with Katja, King Erling’s law-keeper and Runar, since they have the shared goal of fighting Hraki and bringing him to justice. However the High King must approve this decision.

"I played the last few weeks over in my mind and an involuntary growl escaped me. Over and over again one name flickered in the shadows like a shark following a trail of blood. It had been whispered at the cliff edge. It had been muttered at the edge of the arena. It had been shouted in desperation by a law-keeper. Hraki."

A highly tense scene with the High King unfolds, while he decides whether to execute Edda; send her back to Dagnur’s household to act as his muscle; send her to work in the mines or make her an outlaw. She has Katja the law-keeper on her side, pleading with the High King to let Edda be sworn to King Erling’s household, but the High King is well known for his hatred of Windborn.

There are numerous exciting, well-written, edge-of-seat fight scenes between these over-powered warriors, each with different, amazing gifts from the Winds. It was fun to guess what the new set of powers would be whenever Edda encountered a Windborn she had not previously met or heard of. The Windborn reminded me somewhat of X-men in this respect.

Since her resurrection, Edda has been hell-bent on avenging her husband’s death, her own death and the razing to the ground of her house. Thoughts of making her murderer pay are all that drive her. Vengeance has driven her entire being since becoming a Windborn. Can she catch up to King Hraki and make him pay? What will happen to her if she does? The High King’s hatred of Windborn is well-known and he is unlikely to tolerate such actions.

"Hraki was why I had lost everything. He was the reason Orin’s storm had killed my husband. He was the reason that Soren had killed me. He was the reason I was Windborn and lost my home, my hoard, my dreams. He had even taken my revenge from me when he gave me Soren’s head. And now he was marching on Erling’s pitiful blockade with a household full of Windborn."

I found the ending quite a surprise as it required a character to completely change their opinion, and lose their prejudice, which I was not really convinced would happen with this character. Apart from that small niggle I thoroughly enjoyed Windborn and would recommend it to anyone who likes Norse fantasy and well-written battle scenes, with some supernatural flavour added by the Windborn superpowers. The battle scenes are gory, but not gratuitously so. There is also a description of a nasty execution near the end, but if those types of things do not make you squeamish I would heartily recommend this book.
Profile Image for S. D. Howarth.
Author 2 books14 followers
July 29, 2021
A well structured novel with an entertaining character who dives into trouble in life and keeps going beyond death. Particularly oozing in Norse setting appeal, but keeping the existing culture at arms length to retain the setting. Some may see it as skimping on worldbuilding, but it doesn't need the dead weight and the setting works well being self-contained, with winter on one side, the sea on the other and war coming from upstream.

Edda is a strong character, and doesn't hesitate to get stuck in. It works well to a point, but it reminds me of a recent read of Stormblood. Character opens mouth, ignores any other argument, piles in and if not in conflict, then soon will be, then gets carved up or outmanoeuvred. That works well at the start to increase the conflict (Edda is royally crapped on to be fair all through the book) and expand the stakes. Two thirds of the way in and it becomes repetitive, or hard work in seeing the character not evolving to circumstance and thinking off any different tactic.

There are a few twists, particularly in the last third, with the villain and Edda's vengeance for her husband and the battle on the beach and island do well to round of the character, and let her rip with her abilities. The final epilogue was a clever touch, and paid off as a reward for her struggles in the saga. Her motto should be, 'if you seek revenge it will always be beyond your grasp.' It is a land with a wealth of future stories to be had and well worth keeping an eye on for future, and in SPFBO7.

For me it wasn't always plain sailing. I found the second third hard work, and I wasn't entirely convinced by the longboat scenes at the start, and some of the nautical terminology grated in use (pet peeve). Despite that, the ending raised it and having norse superheroes have at it, was one of the best renditions since reading Last of the Renshai and the Saxon Chronicles and you can smell the fires and steel. Cool stuff.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Chris.
856 reviews20 followers
July 25, 2022
This reads like a PG13 grimdark Viking X-men. Which sounds weird, but isn't necessarily a bad thing. It mixes some of the viking lifestyle (romanticized, sure) and mythology with some original aspects about the 'Winds' [aurora] reviving dead folk into super-soldiers with powers. The main protagonist gets an ice power. Others include flying, short burst teleportation, super speed, healing factor, stone skin, and fire in addition to all of them having increased speed, strength, and healing. As expected, while rare, these reborn [Windborn] do nullify regular fighters and that's brought out right in the start. But the law of the land requires them to sign on to be servants/soldiers of a local king (below the High King).

The grimdark is kind of from the perspective of the main character. She just seems to have everything go against her and the book is essentially a revenge plot. But at the same time, it doesn't get too dark and the violence seems kind of cleaned up compared to other books I've read. There are clearly good guys and bad guys and I kind of hoped for a little nuance in the antagonists. There are hints of it, and then it's forgotten.

It was certainly entertaining and I would read another book from the same author. The pacing was usually pretty good, though there were times were I was thinking, ok just get on with it already. Overall, great first book from Bradshaw. I was recommended this by another somewhat new author, Benedict Patrick, that I enjoy.
Profile Image for Jonathan Pembroke.
Author 6 books44 followers
July 3, 2021
Windborn is an interesting world heavily-influenced by Norse mythology and viking culture. The protagonist, Edda, becomes one of the windborn--a warrior resurrected with various powers granted by supernatural forces.

In general, I thought the prose of this flowed well and I liked the protagonist. There's a wide range of characters here, from highly likable to abominable, and everything in between. The culture set up around the windborn is interesting and mildly depressing; it's somewhat reminiscent to me of old X-Men comics, where the mutants were feared but useful. Edda has to navigate all this and coming to grips with her new abilities, her tragic loss, and the injustice of everything. Compelling reading.

I do think Edda got served a lot of crap over the course of this tale and I don't think she got enough positive to balance it out. Without getting into spoilers, I don't think I cared for the ultimate resolution. There were some satisfying steps along the way but I prefer upbeat or bittersweet endings and I think ending was more neutral than positive. That's fine, it's just not my preference.

Even so, I had a good ride courtesy of the tale and I enjoyed it quite a bit. I suspect this would appeal to fans of Norse mythology, revenge tales, and lots of combat.
Profile Image for Phil Parker.
Author 6 books21 followers
May 13, 2021
There are some books which snag you from the first page, plunging you into their world before you can catch your breath. Windborn is one of those books.
Edda is a Viking. She is a woman of enormous courage and resilience, she’s been on raids to pillage foreign lands but her motives have always been about one thing; to obtain enough money so that she and her husband, Bjolfur, can buy their own farm. For me, the hook that engaged me from the start was the sympathy you feel for this woman when her husband dies and she’s left homeless and penniless. The unfairness of her treatment leaves you rooting for her straight away. It’s an indication of Alex Bradshaw’s skill in the way he approaches the grief of his main character. In less skilled hands, Edda would be driven entirely by vengeance. Whilst this is true to some extent, Edda’s character has greater depth and credibility. She finds difficulty in moving beyond her grief, there is not just loss but survivor guilt in play here. She is afraid of the sea, she holds it responsible for the loss of her husband. Vengeance is tempered with a need for justice and the lengths to which she goes to achieve it. These are examples of the rich complexity of this character.
Complexity which exists in all the other characters too. Valna is another character we see grow and who faces her own levels of suffering whilst offering enduring friendship to Edda. They become courageous warriors, always with the depth that makes them way more than your typical “kick-ass” female protagonist. A strength of Windborn is its rich diversity of female characters, such as Katja, Gerda and Alvilda.
There’s a second reason for my love of this story. It’s down to the immersive world of Viking culture. Again, the skill of the author here is in the subtlety of its treatment. I learned a huge amount about the Vikings but always through the medium of dramatic events in the narrative. There is no dumping of information and exposition here folks! You learn about the way some people are owned by powerful figures, and the hardships that can provoke, by the things that happen to Edda and her friends. You learn about Viking justice, a highly developed set of rules you might not imagine from such a violent people. This is world building with a historical perspective and must have required endless research – but it has paid off because the world building becomes a significant feature for the story’s quality.
Yes, there are Vikings with superpowers. It makes for amazing fight sequences and lots of excitement and tension. But to highlight this feature above the others doesn’t do this story justice. Windborn is a tale of grief, a need for wrongs to be righted, set in a world that enriches everything we learned at school. I cannot recommend it enough!
Profile Image for Rowena Andrews.
Author 2 books53 followers
April 28, 2021

Windborn was a book that I wanted to pick up from the moment I first set eyes on the cover (sometimes it really is that simple, and I mean just look at that cover – it’s stunning) and the blurb only reinforced that, and it didn’t disappoint.

Edda was without a doubt the main selling point of this book for me. She makes for an incredibly compelling and well-written protagonist from the moment we encounter her. In part, this is because we experience everything through her eyes from the first-person point of view, and therefore we share very vividly what she experiences, what she thinks and more importantly what she feels. Her highs and lows throughout the book, are our highs and lows, her grief beats in our chest and her anger and desire for vengeance echoes in our blood. First-person is often a challenge for me, I’ve always leaned towards third person, but when it does work it is because of the strength and individuality of the character voice, and that is very true here. Edda’s voice is memorable and resonates, and it is a credit to Bradshaw’s skill at characterisation that she raised that feeling in me and moved me from start to finish.
The wide-ranging cast of secondary characters are well-realised as well, and while Edda’s experience and voice is our primary focus I found myself particularly enjoying the time spent with the various Windborn as the story progresses, as well as her friendship with Fjola. Amongst the supernatural elements, and the harshness of the world and the situations that Edda finds herself in, it was the little character details and their interactions that added a grounding, humanity to the story – for example, some of the conversation between Edda and her husband in the first chapter had me smiling, and immediately feeling the depth and warmth of their marriage.

The magic system treads an interesting line between being a rules-based system, and the mysterious nature of magic that is fitting for a world heavy with Norse Mythology and Bradshaw does an excellent job of maintaining that balance while creating something intriguing and unique. I always appreciate when there is a price to be paid for accessing such powers – although it is a steep price here, and also worlds, where those with powers may be the most ‘powerful’ but, are limited or restricted or feared in some way, it makes for a more complicated world and it was a delight to see how it played out in this book. The powers themselves were fantastic to read about, especially when they came into play during fight scenes, and those were some of my favourite scenes (plus it was a fun game, to try and work out what abilities the different Windborn had when we first encountered them).

As much as I was immediately taken with Edda and the world that Bradshaw was building, I must admit that it did take me a little while to get into this one, although I think that is in part due to it being first-person and needing to find my feet with Edda’s voice. That said, once I had found my feet this was a book that swept me along, the writing was vivid with a terrific blend of emotion and action, and prose that breathed life into every single aspect of it. There were lots of twists and turns, many of which I did not see coming, and this is very much a book that keeps both Edda and the reader on their toes without ever losing sight of the course it’s following and carrying you with it.

Windborn is a fantastic debut, and an excellent addition to any Norse Fantasy lovers shelf and I would recommend it to anyone who loves Norse fantasy and character driven fantasy, and I will be keeping a weather eye out for future books by this author.

Profile Image for Bory.
157 reviews1 follower
July 18, 2022
An excellent book, held back by some minor frustrations.

I really, really liked Windborn. The characters, from Edda to Valna, are well-crafted. You get where these people are coming from and why they take the action they take, even if you don't necessarily agree with them. Yes, Edda's motivation is a twist on the "girlfriend in the fridge" trope, but it is different enough from the norm that it's not a drawback. Even the antagonist, at the end, you can empathize with... to a point.

The magic system is interesting, though the Windborn powers themselves are rather uninspired.

The story flows, with no major lulls or problems along the way. The action is excellent and plentiful, but it's also where my one semi-major issue with the book comes from. Edda... kind of really sucks as a Windborn. Maybe it's because I've watched Avatar: The Last Airbender one too many times (not possible), but I have seen how cool ice manipulation can look and be in battle, and Edda just kept her ass handed to her for some 80% of the book.

It would have been nice to have some closure for the supporting cast - Runar, Valna, and especially Fjola, whom I was genuinely sad to part ways with mid-book.

Let me just say, it's a breath of fresh air to have a Viking fantasy story without the Norse gods prancing around, for a change.

Overall, though, this is a great read. Highly recommended.
Profile Image for Alon Lankri.
210 reviews1 follower
December 4, 2021
Dnf 36%

The prose is good, lots of well-done similes. I had a hard time with the plot. The setup wasn't done well to make her motivations real.

Profile Image for Cori.
7 reviews1 follower
April 29, 2021
This is one of those rare books that once I started reading it I couldn't stop. I can't recommend it enough. It hits the ground running right from the very beginning and keeps going throughout the entire book.
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