Thursday 7 January 2016

Review: The Viking Stone by Nick Hawkes

Adam Hollingworth’s dreams are shattered by the death of his fiancĂ©. The demons of grief pursue him as he journeys from Australia to England to hide amidst the marshes of the Thames Estuary, an area renowned for its secrets and its smuggling.

An old man and his beautiful niece introduce Adam to the world of old wooden boats and the mysteries of the marshes. Together, they reignite Adam’s passion for life. Now, Adam must fight to keep himself and the people he loves from being murdered. Whether they survive will depend on his ability to use a remarkable secret of ancient Norse navigation—the Viking Stone.

My Review
Another well written novel by Nick Hawkes, though it didn’t draw me in quite as much as his previous novel, The Celtic Stone. The historical aspects of The Viking Stone were not as deeply explored but the local fishing history of Vikings and Danes along the Essex coast was interesting and does underpin the core of the story. For anyone into boating, both ancient and modern, there are fascinating insights and exciting incidents and descriptions. Some of it was a little technical for me but gave me a sense of the adventure and the dangers inherent in sailing. There are great descriptions of fishing villages and the coastline of Essex which provide an effective visual context for the story.  It is clear that Nick has done his research well and/or has quite a vast knowledge of boats and sailing and the area which is the setting of the novel.  

I enjoyed the sensitivity and passion in the character of Adam, who takes a teaching job in England in an attempt to revive his interest in life after the terrible loss of his fiancĂ©. His journey through grief and the reawakening of his desire for a loving relationship with Edward Bryson’s niece, Claire, was gentle and touching, though a little at odds with his almost impulsive and reckless passion in regard to rock climbing, and the energy and aggression which explode from him when wrangling with drug smugglers or protecting those he cares about. His approach to teaching and the wisdom he portrays in motivating young boys to learn is inspiring. So Adam is a complex and appealing character from whose point of view much of the story is told.

The older man in the story, Edward Bryson is also a character easy to love and enjoy. His is more a mentoring role in Adam's life and the kind of character anyone would want to have around if they were needing a wise and caring supporter in a time of trouble or grief. 

I didn’t feel there was as much insight into the character of the females in the story. Both Claire and Margaret, the woman in a second developing romance with Adam's fellow teacher, Gareth Price, were a little more of a mystery to me in regard to their motivations and feelings. Even though parts of the story were written from their POV, as a reader I felt I was coming to understand the women mostly from the perspective of Adam. Perhaps that was Nick’s intention as Adam is the main character and his journey is the main focus of the story. Or perhaps it’s understandable that male characters are easier to portray deeply for a male writer. Both romances are woven through the story at a slower pace than female romance lovers might want, but there’s good balance of adventure, male bonding, danger and near-death experiences to keep a range of readers interested.

While the story does not have any overt Christian content there is a subtle sense of God's presence and of calling out to God in the midst of pain and trouble. A satisfying ending to the story left me feeling it had been a good read, a portrayal of internal and interpersonal struggles resolved and of inspiring human values and attitudes. 
Carol Preston  

Carol writes historical novels based on her family ancestry in Australia from the First Fleet. They include the Turning the Tide series; Mary’s Guardian, Charlotte’s Angel, Tangled Secrets and Truly Free. Her earlier novels Suzannah’s Gold and Rebecca’s Dream have been re-released by EBP. Her new novel, Next of Kin, was released this year by Rhiza Press and the sequel, Beyond the Fight will be released in April, 2016. You can see more about Carol and her novels on her website, her FB author page or her Amazon author page. 



  1. Carol, fabulously detailed review. Thank you for sharing it with us. Well done for reading and reviewing one of Nick's novels.

  2. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this book with us Carol.


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