Title of the series: The Forerunner Series
Author: Jay Veloso Batista
Publisher: Independently published
Genre: Historical Fantasy, Viking mythology
First Publication: 2022
Book Summary: The Forerunner Series by Jay Veloso Batista
THREE NOVELS IN ONE! Like history and legends? Enjoy the gritty realism of Viking Age dramas or multi-character epic fantasy? Norse legends and lore, unforgettable characters and authentic history combine in an exciting series!
Thorfinn and the Witch’s Curse:WINNER of the 2020 Wishing Shelf Book and Readers’ Favorites 2021 Fantasy Awards! When a witch’s curse comes alive, a mishap turns young Finn into a vardoger, haunted by his own forerunner ghost. Suddenly thrust into a new realm beyond Midgard, Finn struggles to be a boy by day and a ghost at night. His own clan fears him, he overhears murder plots, he learns the truth of giants and the hidden folk, and the witch still hunts revenge… Will Finn find the courage to defeat his enemies and save his uncle?
The Vardoger Boy: Danish forces assemble for war on Wessex and the loyal Agneson Clan heeds the call to join the Great Viking Horde, but while honorable men gather in the midlands, a blood feud draws mercenaries to their undefended homestead for murderous revenge. Sailing his Viking crew to fulfill an oath, Karl harbors suspicions over strange occurrences that bedevil his nephew Thorfinn, while far to the north their sworn enemy werebear and his dark elf master strike back. And young forerunner Thorfinn learns the Nine Realms are full of surprising hidden folk, but to earn his place aboard the Viking’s ship he must accept a mast troll’s quest….
On Viking Seas: With the fall of the Danish army at the battle of Ethandun, historical events scatter the Agneson family—Cub is enslaved in the Devonshire tin mines while Sorven stalks retribution in Jorvik; Kara is unwillingly propelled toward a convenient Saxon marriage while Karl and his crew are castaway on a mythic floating island. Separated and marooned, each is forced to tackle their challenges alone while the forerunner Thorfinn faces supernatural revenge, a battle to lift a Jarl’s curse and the release of his Jotunhiem wyrm in Midgard!
Based on actual historical events and authentic legends, this epic fantasy follows the paths of the sons and daughters of Agne, Son of Ironfist in the Viking Era circa the year 880. Don’t miss this award-winning grand panoramic tale of over 300,000 words, 3 maps and ancestral lineage trees, with character glossaries and notes on key norse legends.
Book Review: The Forerunner Series by Jay Veloso Batista
Prior to her death at the hands of Alf “Ironfist,” a Saxon witch cursed him with a curse that would follow him for three generations. Alf, the conqueror, constructed a homestead complex west of Jorvik in Northumbria and had three sons: Alf Alfenson, Agne Alfenson, and Karl Alfenson. While grieving for his wife, who died at childbirth, Ironfist went on to establish a successful trading business, extend his farmland, and win many friends and supporters.
The first book in the series tells the tale of Thorfinn, one of the seven children of Agne Alfenson and Gurid of Mercia. When Finn was ten years old, he did the typical Viking boy things like practise his martial arts, listen to terrifying tales, and follow his older brothers. His uncle, Karl, who had been living in exile for years, has finally returned home. Unexpectedly, a witch’s curse comes to life and transforms young Finn into a vardoger who is haunted by the spirit of his own forerunner. Finn is thrust into an unfamiliar realm beyond Midgard, where he must choose between being a boy and a ghost. Defeating his adversaries, saving his uncle, and coming to terms with his new ghostly identity will need all of Finn’s bravery.
In the second book, “The Vardoger Boy”, of the Forerunner series, we follow Finn’s older brother, Cub, and their father being summoned to battle in support of King Guthrum of Anglia as he goes up against King Alfred and the Wessex armies. To replace the crew he left behind, Karl hires some fresh Gallic sailors. Sailing with his Viking crew to fulfil an oath, Karl is suspicious of unusual happenings that befuddle his nephew Thorfinn, while their sworn adversary werebear and his dark elf lord strike back far to the north. And Thorfinn, the young precursor, discovers that the Nine Realms are full of intriguing secret beings, but in order to win his seat onboard the Viking’s ship, he must undertake a mast troll’s mission.
As the third book in the Forerunner Series, “On Viking Seas” opens, we find that to get vengeance on Thorfinn and Karl and their crews, the wounded dark elf has additional Midgardian minions to command, and he provides them with an enchantment to control Odin’s mythical Wild Hunt. Wessex captured Cub after the battle of Ethandun and enslaved him in the Devonshire tin mines. Separated and stranded, each character must face their trials alone, while Thorfinn fights otherworldly vengeance, a struggle to break a Jarl’s curse, and the unleashing of his Jotenhiem wyrm in Midgard!
The Forerunner series has everything and more that I like in a good book: characters you can sink your teeth into, that are fully developed and multifaceted; romance; violence, but not without purpose; excellent pacing, with lots of twists and turns in the plot; drama, drama, and more drama; power struggles and intrigue. Best of all, so far, anyway, the story is very well-written, and Jay Batista takes full advantage of a broad vocabulary, without it ever feeling gratuitous or pedantic.
The world is nominally magical, but it is low fantasy, focusing more on earthy political machinations and magic never really intrudes into the story or breaks the immersion with wand waving. It is brutal, as you would expect from a Viking era setting, with gore aplenty, although not simply for the sake of it. The world the author creates is intricate, realistic, gritty, and beautifully crafted.
Jay Batista delights in turning expectations upside-down. He takes typical fantasy tropes and distorts them until the reader does not know what to expect. The way he describes the world and the characters’ actions triggers your mind to think and imagine the scene. It is really significant to note that, while it is a fantasy world, it is modelled on Europe during the Viking Era, circa the year 880, and the families fighting for the throne at the time. The patriarchal society, arranged marriages, plotting, and treason exist because the historical background upon which the fictional work is based included all those elements, and they are necessary for the factions to make sense.
Author Jay Veloso Batista invests himself in every character he writes, and it shows. The men and women in the series show strength, resourcefulness, and really grow as characters. ‘Depth’ is a word that describes a lot of aspects of this series well. Of the cast, of each character’s motivations (he went out of his way to take the more shallow characters from earlier books and flesh them out specifically.), the geography, the religions, the mythology, the history, the science, the minute details of cultures, transportation. Apparently, everything has been created and orchestrated towards what is going to be an amazing finish, I’m sure.