Thursday, November 6, 2008

Lord of Raven's Peak - Catherine Coulter

After posting the list of Viking romances to the ERT group I discovered I had Catherine Coulter's Lord of Raven's Peak in the TBR pile and decided to read it.

It was not as bad as I thought it be, I must say Merrick was quite a civilized and non violent viking which surprised me. I thought the story could use more depth and somethings we a bit odd but in general it was entertaining and a bit surprising. As to the story Merrick, a viking, is in Kiev to buy slaves when he sees a little boy of six teriified because his older brother has just been sold and he is alone. Merrick buys the little boy and is oddly attracted to him (like father and son, not sexually!). To keep him happy he descides to steal the boy's brother from his new master, which he does but ends up discovering said boy is a girl and another slave escapes and comes with them. It is odd that not only he would feel as strongly about a boy he just met but also that he would return from the slave market without having bought the slaves he was intending to and running not to be discovered but the man he stole the boy/girl from from.

Laren, the boy/girl slave, doesn't seem to know when to shup up, even after being rescued and reunited with her brother she keeps a proud atitude and answers back to Merrick. She makes an enemy of his Skald when she decides to continue a story he started and soon they all realize she is better than him. When they reach Merrick's farm his parents are dead and his brother is the new Lord. Erick is the stereotype of the ruthless, mean viking. Hits his wife, keeps mistress and feels like can use any slave he feels like it. And of course he wants Laren... Merrick doesn't want him to have her because that would bring pain to Taby (weird how many times he speaks of not paining Taby) so he pretends she is his mistress which she eventually becomes.

I think the worst part of the book is that one really doesn't see how they fall in love. Laren does feel a pain in her chest every time Merrick says she is only important because of her brother but other than that we really don't feel why shoud they fall in love. And Coulter's first sex scenes between characters always leave with a mix of frustation and amusement. They are generally bad for the woman (but this one wasn't as bad as some I've read by her...) and her heroines always end up saying something too naive and ridiculous like Laren telling Merrick that he must needs practice because another woman has told her it only hurts the first time, so if they practive it wont hurt anymore. It should be amusing but sometimes it's just silly.

Eventually someone get's killed and Laren is blamed. To save her from certain death Merrick decides to marry her. I never understood how he came up with such punishment. And Laren finally tells him she is a princess of Normandy, the niece of Rollo and Taby is an important piece of the dinasty as he is heir. Merrick tells everyone such and they stop believing in Laren's guilt because such pure blood couldn't lie(such logic reasoning this is). So they both go to Normandy and look for Rollo who welcomes his niece back and they decide they must discover who kidnapped and sold both Laren and her brother to slave traders.

I felt the book changed in tone here. If before with had a viking setting of a farmstead and the way of life in a long house, here we are in a palace and surrounded by court intrigues. Several people could be the guilty ones, including Laren's two half sisters, and I think Coulter does a bit too thorough a job to send us in one direction. Having Merrick respond to his wife's sister kisses was a bit odd...

After they solve this mystery they go back to Merrick's farm accompanied by Laren's father to pick Taby up. There they find that all is not what it seems and soon another man is attacked the same way as Erick and there's a new mystery to unravel and the conclusion was, to me a surprising one. So as you can see there are many plot twists that kept me entertained, maybe too many in fact. I think that it probably the result of it being written 15 years ago. Too many things happening and not enough depth, but entertaining nonetheless!

Grade: C

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