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Paperback Book Details
  • 06/2022
  • 9791096459391
  • 328 pages
  • $16.99
Jean Gill
Author, Translator
The Ring Breaker
Jean Gill, author

Adult; General Fiction (including literary and historical); (Market)

Finalist in the 2022 Chaucer Award, the 2022 Selfies Award and the 2022 Wishing Shelf Award.
Loyalty has a price the children pay

In the twilight of the old gods, when the last Vikings rule the seas, two cursed orphans meet on an Orkney beach and their fates collide. Stripped of honour, facing bleak loneliness ahead, Skarfr and Hlif forge an unbreakable bond as they come of age in the savage Viking culture of blood debts and vengeance.

To be accepted as adults, Skarfr must prove himself a warrior and Hlif must learn to use women’s weapons. Can they clear their names and choose their destiny? Or are they doomed by their fathers’ acts?

The award-winning author of The Troubadours Quartet returns to the 12th century, with skalds instead of troubadours and Viking warriors instead of crusaders. Get ready for authentic medieval adventures steeped in poetry, politics and passion. Perfect for fans of Bernard Cornwell Matthew Harffy and Madeline Miller.

‘Reads from start to finish like a saga straight from a skald's mouth.’ B.A. Morton, The Favour Bank

‘All the hallmarks of a Jean Gill novel - political intrigue, action and adventure, and a love story fraught with difficulties!’ Jane Davis, Small Eden

Quarter Finalist

Plot/Idea: 10 out of 10
Originality: 9 out of 10
Prose: 10 out of 10
Character/Execution: 10 out of 10
Overall: 9.75 out of 10


Plot/Idea: The plot follows Skarfr, orphaned as a young child, from boyhood to adulthood, noting his age at intervals to effectively ground readers in his experiences.  When Skarfr meets Hlif, their storylines converge as they navigate their mutual destinies against the backdrop of Viking savagery.

Prose: Gill uses the Norse language throughout, as well as its interpretations, to lend authenticity to the narrative. The introduction breaks down the story's locations, character names and descriptions, and a map to orient readers to the complexity of Gill's worldbuilding. 

Originality: Though the novel is carefully authentic, it follows convention for historical fiction of this time period: a young man’s journey into adulthood, a mystical woman, and a magical encounter leading to a dragon tattoo are some of the many familiar experiences readers will encounter during the journey.

Character/Execution: Skarfr’s voyage into adulthood forms the core of this novel, and as such, his character is explored with a sensitive attention to detail. As he ages, his opinion of women changes, an example of his growth over time.

Blurb: Charting the course of a young man’s life in ancient Orkney, The Ring Breaker immerses readers in the skald craft, politics, and warfare of that time.

Date Submitted: April 30, 2023

Deborah Swift

A fantastic coming-of-age story. I can’t imagine historical fiction better than this – absolutely brilliant. A tour-de-force of storytelling, Viking lore, and the rugged landscape of Orkney. This was one of the highlights of my reading year. The characters of Hlif and Skarfr are brave, resourceful and intelligent and I Ioved them both. Jean Gill convinces with her well-researched, atmospheric re-construction of a far off age.

Emily Brand

‘A stirring coming-of-age tale forged in love, inheritance and adventure - in ‘The Ring Breaker’ Jean Gill skilfully brings the poetry and magic of the Viking world to life.’

Jeff Fleischer, Foreword Reviews

In Jean Gill’s gripping historical novel The Ring Breaker, a young man comes of age in the Viking-era Orkney Islands, navigating court intrigue, his own survival, and his confusing feelings about the jarl’s cursed ward.

The book strikes the right balance between its beautiful descriptions, its character-driven plot, and its authentic, vivified period and setting.

With its strong grasp of history and place and a cast that defies easy categorization, The Ring Breaker is a thrilling adventure novel.

The Book Magnet

Although I'm already a fan of Jean Gill's writing, her writing in The Ring Breaker is exquisite.  From the rich and vivid descriptions to the lyrical poetry.  I shall never forget one particular dreamlike scene for as long as I live.  It's giving me goosebumps just thinking about it now.Filled with danger and adventure, The Ring Breaker is immersive, evocative and stunning; this is historical fiction at its finest.  Very highly recommended.

Paperback Book Details
  • 06/2022
  • 9791096459391
  • 328 pages
  • $16.99