So, to get back to the discussions of Old Skool WTFery, I went as WTF as I could. I went Fabio.
You remember, right, that Fabio “wrote” a couple of romances back in The Day? I remember reading an article in Parade (I think) when his first one came out, and that he had put his foot down that his books would not portray smoking and would encourage safe sex. I remember a scene in Pirate where the Fabio character (because seriously? It’s self-insert fic. Let’s be honest, here) was about to commence fucking a whore, and she got all pouty when he pulled out a (accurate) sheepskin condom.
Anyway, here we have Viking.
So the main male character here is Marco. He is a movie star who is madly in love with his girlfriend of some years, and he is ready to settle down and have babies, but she is 23, and just getting the good roles (which will only last for another 5 years, tops!) and is not ready to settle down and start a family just yet. They are starring in a Viking movie, and during he scene where his character, Viktor the Valiant, is buried at sea in a Viking funeral (burned in a boat) something goes pear-shaped and he ends up in a burning Viking boat in Iceland, where the REAL Viktor the Valiant is being buried at sea after being killed by an attack on his village by Wolfgard, who lives across the fjord.
So he jumps out of the boat and into an attack of the people who “killed” him in the first place (and also in the movie, because Art IMITATES lI) where everyone is like “HOLY CRAP YOU’RE NOT DEAD” and he has no idea what the fuck he’s doing and the Bad Guy’s stepdaughter, Rayna, who looks exactly like Marco’s girlfriend in the present, freaks out and the attack is repelled.
So Marco-now-Viktor tries to slip back into being Viktor, but he has an academic idea of what Vikings are (except not, because while they talk about his “Love of historical accuracy” while filming, he seems to forget all about it when he’s actually there) and he Does Not Approve of paganism, slavery, or drunkenness. Also he is concerned about his warriors’ cholesterol.
“…He had to wonder what was more harmful- the alcoholic beverages his warriors swilled so freely, or the diet so rich in fat and cholesterol that the Vikings consumed daily. He frowned. In addition to his other duties here, he would need to develop programs both for reforming drunkards and for unclogging their arteries through establishing more healthful diets.”
EXCUSE ME MR. MORALIZING-PANTS. First, shut up. Second, it’s rich food in NATURAL fats and not this transfat, hydrogenized bullshit fake food SHIT you’ve been eating in LA, dickbag. Also, in an environment where they are CONSTANTLY working hard, so the calories get worked off, and where the growing season is super short, veggies are not always in plentiful supply. Let’s see how you can handle a celery craving in the middle of February. Sanctimonious ASS.
Also, Scandahoovians can fucking hold their booze. Ask my great and great-great uncles about that. They trashed the West Bank in Minneapolis many times throughout their lives. Like good Vikings.
Viktor decides that the Vikings are too bellicose (the drinking game for this book is take a shot for every “bellicose” and “sadistic” and you too can drink like a Viking) and decides to try to end the feud with the Bad Guy across the fjord by going and talking to him. They somehow make a deal that if Viktor can kidnap Rayna and make her his wife and tame her hoydenish ways or something then the book will end. (spoiler alert: it takes too fucking long)
Viktor snags her (and her servant/chaperone, who is a seer of some sort and has told Rayna that her destiny is with Viktor) and drags them back across the fjord to his village. We find out through flashback that Rayna is actually a French princess who was kidnapped by the Bad Guy when she was 3, along with her mother. Her mother was forced to marry the Bad Guy and bore him a son who would rather make flower chains and not be a warrior and they’re all secretly Christian and anyway, that’s why Rayna hates all men and especially her stepfather.
It’s ridiculous. There’s a Christian hermit monk in the tundra because of course there is. Viktor/Marco is also Christian so there’s that. Viktor locks Rayna up in a smokehouse to sweeten her temper and she insults everyone and it’s like the baddest badass in Viktor’s cohort or village or clan or whatever the fuck the proper collective noun is (don’t worry, Fabio doesn’t know, either) has never been called a shriveled dick before, the way he acts. Like, seriously.
But it’s all a lot of Slap Slap Kiss, because Viktor’s like “I have loved you in another life!” and Rayna’s all “I would like to have the sexytimes, but I Have Principles, Dammit and those Principals are that I hate all
Montagues Vikings as I hate hell and thee!” and it’s pretty boring, because we have seen all of this before but better executed. She only agrees to marry him when her idiot brother Ragar shows up with one other dude to “rescue” her and they get caught.
Eventually, Viktor sends them off to Loire because…. Ragar wanted to see where his mother came from or something stupid. Wolfgard the Bad Guy takes a dim view of this and ramps up the feud and is stupid and Rayna has plotted defenses around Viktor’s village like putting wild boars and snakes into lava floe pits and Wolgan’s stupid as fuck henchmen stupidly fall in.
Oh, Rayna gets pregnant superfast, too, of course. Viktor takes a page from Catherine Coulter and figures it out before she does, but he at least isn’t the one to tell Rayna. She figures it out on her own and then he’s just smugly all “I know!” when she tells him.
Anyway, Rayna wants to go home to Loire, and Viktor stupidly (it’s like he’s never seen any time travel movies ever. YOU’RE A FUCKING MOVIE STAR FOR GOD’S SAKE) tells all of his men about “Futuregard” and instead of doing the reasonable thing, which is to declare him to be mentally unstable and not a whole man and by Norse Law, unfit to rule and then kill him, they FUCKING EAT IT UP.
So then, in middle of all this crap, the Plot shows up in the form of Rayna’s previously thought dead baby brother. He was supposed to have been exposed in Loire because he had six toes (thus making it easy to prove that he was who he said he was- he just needs to take off his stinky goddamn boot) (which he does a lot) but some Convenient Poor Farmers were on hand to raise him and once he was old enough, he took his rightful place as the Prince of Loire. Ragar found him, and married a Loire-ian girl named Cutie (okay Mingon). (SERIOUSLY THIS OFF STAGE CHARACTER IS NAMED MINGON.) (Her friends call her Filet.) (not really BUT THEY SHOULD) And Alain is there to pout, say “oui” a lot, take off his boot and tell Rayna that she deserves better than to be married to a dirty awful Viking.
She’s pregnant out to here but she’s supposed to drop everything to hop a boat to Loire.
I can’t even. I have lost the ability to can.
Oh, also Rayna is feeling frisky (or horny, as Viktor has been teaching her modern slang) but Viktor won’t fuck her because of the germs on his dick.
Seriously, this is an actual conversation.
Then Alain convinces Rayna that she needs to go back to Loire RIGHT NOW because the bad guy isn’t going to stop his whole war thing, and Rayna hops on Alain’s boat even though she is 9 months and 57 minutes pregnant. Wolfgard attacks, Viktor fights him off and while Rayna goes into labor, and then the deus ex machina fucking shows up in the form as a volcano erupting out of the sea.
So everyone stops what they are doing because a motherfucking volcano erupting out of the sea is the gods' way of saying “Holy fuck, you assholes. KNOCK THIS SHIT OFF.”
And Rayna makes to shore in time to birth the kid right on the beach and they all live happily ever after and Viktor builds them a lovely little A-frame chalet with a breezeway and possibly a hot tub.
What the FUCK.
So there are many problems here. Many, many, many. The first being that it is boring. There’s nothing I care about at stake here. I don’t care about Viktor/Marco, because he’s a sanctimonious ASS who manages to fuck up all the time travel rules. He’s SO SURE that he is right with his Christianity and his “omg your cholesterol!” bullshit and I kind of hate him. Rayna is either raging at the world, or horny as hell, or both, and when she’s not those things she’s basically cardboard.
Wolfgard is also cardboard. He plots for the sake of plotting, he cackles, and rages at his minions when they fuck up. He hated Rayna but allowed her to be one of his warriors, but hated her a LOT and then gets all pissy when she seems happy with Viktor? I don’t even know.
The dialogue was awful, and trying too hard to be old timey. It’s ridiculous. We also are treated to five billion examples of Viktor using modern slang and people being perplexed by it. Jo Bourne can write in dialect, and Fabio and his ghostwriter cannot.
Look, we all know Fabio used a ghostwritier. Fabio did not write this shit. But this is something someone wrote thinking Fabio would like it enough to want to put his name on it. Viktor reads some of like the kind of character a man thinks women would like- he’s sensitive, controlling, just wants to settle down, just a bit of an alphole, domineering in bed, and NONE OF THOSE THINGS GO TOGETHER WITH ANY COHERENCY. People are complex, I get that. But there’s still a coherent throughline to anyone’s self, right? Certainly in a book character, you need coherency. Viktor has none.
Well, his dick is always pretty big. He’s got a little consistency.
And finally, this book has no point. Marco gets transported back in time where he totally fucks with the time stream and builds his modern a-frame house and goes into total fucking-with-the-timestream mode. And there’s NO discussion about what happened to Marco in the modern day. Is he dead? Is this a hallucinatory dream? WHY ARE THERE HORNED HELMETS IN THE CHAPTER HEADINGS?
Oh my god, this was so awful. This was a super awkward chapter of our genre’s history. Super. Awkward. It's not even entertaining enough in it's WTFery to warrant an F+.