After accidentally subjecting myself to the literary emasculation that was The Haunted, I felt the overwhelming need to read something decidedly more manly.
At this thought, I recalled my chat with Scottish author William Meikle and how curious I was about his Berserker title, which Meikle himself described as “A bunch of Vikings run into a tribe of Yeti. Bloody mayhem ensues. That’s about it for plot really, but it would make for a great big dumb action movie.”
Oh how right he is… Berserkers: Viking warriors who, according to the lore, fought with a near uncontrollable trance-like fury. The Vikings: Warriors and pirates who traded, fought, pillaged and conquered across Europe as far as Constantinople and even to North Africa. Sounds EXACTLY what I needed!
Berserker is a 2010 action-horror novella that comes with the following synopsis:
“For Tor and Skald this is their first viking raid, their minds full of thoughts of honor and glory. What awaits them are beasts from their nightmares — huge, hirsute and fanged, the Alma will not suffer intruders in their domain.
When the Vikings slaughter a female Alma they soon find themselves in the middle of a bloody revenge. Soon the young Norsemen must stand up and be counted, for their destinies await them high in the mountains, where the beasts make their lair.”
Requiring immediate gratification, I downloaded this work by Meikle for my Kindle and proceeded to lap it up. Meikle doesn’t hang about and the action starts quickly. Berserker truly is action-horror and dismemberments, maiming and general death and destruction aren’t far from the front cover. The reader is confronted by the Alma (Yeti) fairly soon and Meikle creates a believable beast that seems to be some sort of distant cousin of humans and simians.
On a critical note, Meikle’s characters lack much in the way of depth. However, this is an action-horror story! Depth of character is not a pre-requisite and given the fact that this is a novella, something has got to give! Additionally, I feel that had Meikle laboured over the psyche and background of the lead characters, it would have very much interrupted the pace of the book. Conversely, Meikle peppers his story with Viking mythology and other lore to enhance the feel of what is a solid little tale.
Meikle has very much created an adventure in the style of movies that I would watch when I was a kid. It has the feel of King Kong, The Long Ships and The Land That Time Forgot with clearly defined roles of heroes/ villains, an adventurous spirit and a formidable foe.
The tale is simple, Vikings v Yetis. If that doesn’t get you at least somewhat curious, you obviously have no soul and no sense of fun!