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Welcoming a Viking and rugby aficionado! Meet Donovan Cook, author of Son of Anger

Today, I am pleased to welcome Donovan Cook to my blog as part of hos Coffee Pot Book Club tour. Donovan is a South African with a passion for rugby and Vikings. A rather good combo, IMO, as I believe my Viking forebears woud have thrived on the rugby field. Still, one can’t help but wonder what exactly inspired Donovan’s interest in Vikings and his book Son of Anger. I asked him if perhaps it was an object? You know, he fell in love with one of the Lewis chessmen or had  been given a horned helmet (NOT something Vikings wore) as a child. Turns out in Donovan’s case it wasn’t an object: it was a story.  With that, I turn you over to Donovan!


There is no object that I can think of that I found inspiring while I wrote my novel, but rather a story, or part of a story. I spent a lot of time researching the Vikings and their world as I wanted my novel to be as accurate as possible. And while researching, I decided to read the Icelandic Sagas, hoping that this would give me a better understanding of the daily lives of the Norse people.

It was while reading one of these stories, The life and death of Cormac the Skald, that I came across a small paragraph that would heavily influence Son of Anger and the rest of the series. Cormac was a great warrior and had fought many battles for King Harald Fairhair. One day, Cormac got into a dispute with another man, Bersi, over a woman and challenged him to a holmgang, which was a duel between two men, usually fought until first blood.

From the Stuttgart Psalter, men with swords, 9th C. I just had to add it :)

Despite what many believe, Vikings had very strict laws and murder was illegal. So these fights usually ended when one of the men received a cut that made him bleed. The problem for Cormac was that Bersi had a famous sword and Cormac couldn’t defeat him with just his axe. Cormac decided to borrow a sword from another man, who warned Cormac that his sword required a particular ritual when drawing it out of the scabbard and that if Cormac didn’t follow this ritual, he would lose the fight.

Unfortunately for Cormac, he was an arrogant man and ignored this advice. Even before the fight, he tried to force the sword out of its scabbard, not following the ritual he was told to, and lost the good luck the sword was said to possess. In the end, he lost the fight when a sliver of the blade broke off from the sword and cut his thumb, causing him to bleed.

This really intrigued me, and I really wanted to have something like this in my novel. Today, many sports people have special routines or lucky objects that they believe will help them perform better. I remember watching the 2015 rugby world cup and seeing the Welsh flyhalf, Dan Biggar, do his little dance routine before kicking a penalty. So it is not difficult to imagine that warriors in the past had the same superstitions. After all, they lived dangerous lives, so if there was something that would help them defeat their opponents then why not embrace it?

I decided then that Ulf, my main character, would have a sword that is cursed. A sword that came with a warning and if that warning was ignored, then he would lose the fight. But, if he obeyed the curse, then he could not lose. And so Ormstunga was born, a sword made in the darkness that could not be drawn in direct sunlight. Now, obviously, this would cause some problems for Ulf. If he got into a fight on a nice sunny day, he would not be able to use his sword. Ulf would have to be smart if he wanted to survive those situations, or he would have to make sure he didn’t get into them in the first place. Needless to say, I had a lot of fun with this and even if it did make life difficult for Ulf, it also got him out of some really tricky situations.

Anna: Ha! Poor Ulf, I say. Thank you for that, Donovan, and now onto Son of Anger itself!

Ulf is like a storm, slowly building up its power, he grows more dangerous with each passing moment. And like all storms, he will eventually break. When he does, he will destroy everything in his path.

Ulf is one of a long line of famous Norse warriors. His ancestor Tyr was no ordinary man, but the Norse God of War. Ulf, however, knows nothing about being a warrior.

Everything changes when a stranger arrives on Ulf’s small farm in Vikenfjord. The only family he’s ever known are slaughtered and the one reminder of his father is stolen — Ulf’s father’s sword, Ormstunga. Ulf’s destiny is decided.

Are the gods punishing him? All Ulf knows is that he has to avenge his family. He sets off on an adventure that will take him across oceans, into the eye of danger, on a quest to reclaim his family’s honour.

The gods are roused. One warrior can answer to them. The Son of Anger.

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Author Bio

Donovan Cook was born in South Africa but raised in England, and currently works as an English tutor. He is the author of the Ormstunga Saga, which includes his debut novel Son of Anger and the follow up, Raid of the Wolves. His novels come from his fascination with the Viking world and Norse Mythology and he hopes that you will enjoy exploring this world as much as he did writing about it.

When Donovan is not teaching or writing, he can be found reading, watching rugby, or working on DIY projects. Being born in South Africa, he is a massive Springboks fan and rarely misses a match.

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