The Vardoger Boy

Forerunner Series Book 2

Fiction - Fantasy - General
330 Pages
Reviewed on 08/26/2020
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Grant Leishman for Readers' Favorite

The Vardoger Boy is Book 2 in the Forerunner Series from Jay Veloso Batista. It is 878 A.D. and the Danish (Viking) rulers of parts of North England are under attack from the Saxon Kingdom in the south. The Danish family led by patriarch Agne Agneson answers the call of their Viking King to strike south and destroy the Saxons. Agne and his eldest son, also Agne but known as Cub, strike south, along with Agne’s men and other Viking warriors to finally put down the Saxons. Agne’s brother Karl, having narrowly avoided being killed by a blood feud in the first book, heads back to sea to return to the village where the werebear and his followers are killing and eating the local citizens and where he left some of his crew to protect the village. Karl takes Agne’s youngest son, Thorfinn, with him to teach him the ways of the Viking. Thorfinn is a Vardoger (a living spirit) who is able to travel the realms whilst he sleeps, guided by his friend and fellow spirit, the raven Raga. The blood feud that almost saw Karl killed is not over though and Agne’s wife and remaining children will find their lives turned upside down, with their menfolk gone and nothing to protect them from a woman and her family bent on vengeance.

The Vardoger Boy is as explosive and exciting as the first story in this series. Author Jay Veloso Batista has perfectly captured the times he writes about, the struggles for survival and the brutal cheapness of an enemy’s life. By bringing in the aspect of Danish or Viking lore, their magic, and their rituals, the author has created a fascinating insight into the family life of the time that lifts this book well above its competitors in the genre. I had read book one in the series and although it isn’t necessary to enjoy book two, I would recommend it as it provides a seamless and explanatory journey into the next adventure. I appreciated the author’s three separate and different story arcs that keep a reader focused on more than just one plot development. The style of warfare practiced by the Danes was fascinating and it is clear they were a well-disciplined group of warriors despite the general conception of Viking rape and pillage. The arc that captures the adventures of Thorfinn and his developing magical powers was perhaps the most interesting of the three but what I really did appreciate was the continual growth and development of the characters I had met and enjoyed in the first book. This is clearly not the end of the adventures of Thorfinn and I look forward to the next book in this series. If you love historical fiction, Viking lore, or just a jolly good adventure, I can highly recommend this book and this series.

K.C. Finn

The Vardoger Boy is a work of fiction in the fantasy, action, and adventure sub-genres, and was penned by author Jay Veloso Batista as the second novel in the Forerunner series. As with the first novel, the work does contain scenes of graphic violence appropriate to the fantasy historical period of the characters, and as such is recommended for more mature reading audiences. Having followed the early exploits of Thorfinn and his family in the previous novel, we now find the Vikings at war with the Saxons, and all hell threatening to break loose as they try to gain and keep control of the unruly English. What follows is an epic adventure with foes of this world and beyond.

Author Jay Veloso Batista had a hard task indeed to follow up from the first novel in the Forerunner series, but he has certainly delivered to the same high standard of family saga, fantasy battles, and coming of age for our youngest hero, Thorfinn. The mix of Viking heritage with epic fantasy plays out beautifully throughout the novel’s twisting and combining plot lines, and I truly felt the gruesome atmosphere of the bloodstained battlefields of Danelaw England. One of the things which I really enjoyed in this novel was the author’s sense of when to hold back to build tension and mystery, which gave the plot an excellent rise and fall to keep us reading from cover to cover. Overall, I would certainly recommend The Vardoger Boy to readers who enjoy fantasy and history combined and written to an excellent standard.

K.J. Simmill

In Jay Veloso Batista's The Vardoger Boy, Raga had warned Finn it was there, but not soon enough for him to evade the attack. He had been about to start his newest adventure, learning the way of the sea aboard his uncle's ship when the mast troll had attacked. He was done with the Realm Between, but it was not done with him. Not by a long shot. The troll demands a fare to allow them the use of the vessel he protects; a quest. He has no choice, not if he wants to stay beside his uncle. Karl has his own worries, his own enemies, but he cannot help noticing all is not right with his nephew. Can Finn's two worlds unite to allow him to do all he must, or is his quest doomed to fail before it can even start?

The Vardoger Boy follows on from the first book in Jay Veloso Batista's The Forerunner series and once again conjures up images of a vibrant and well-defined world. Clearly a lot of thought and research has gone into creating this book and keeping it as accurate to the times as possible, right down to the games being played. This is a tale of friendship and trust, warriors, and honor. There is nothing more satisfying than when a book delves into the realms of folklore, magic, and the things legends are made of and does it well. Filled with gripping action, engaging story arcs, and a plethora of characters you'll just love to follow. I particularly enjoyed how the author skilfully sets scenes with vivid details aimed at providing a full sensory experience; it just makes it so easy to become lost in this world and the atmosphere. Action, adventure, fear, and betrayal combine with real emotions, struggles, and fantastical enemies to bring an epic adventure to your fingertips.

Vincent Dublado

The second installment in Jay Veloso Batista’s Forerunner Series does not disappoint. In The Vardoger Boy, we enter the world of Midgard, a Viking kingdom in ninth-century England. We join the adventures of Thorfinn in his coming of age journey. This family saga of the Agneson line picks up from the first installment, Thorfinn and the Witch’s Curse. Each of the books, however, can be read as a stand-alone novel. We continue in the year 878 AD, where Thorfinn’s family joins the Great Viking Horde. As the family sails forth, the young protagonist will try to find his rightful place in the Viking ship and encounter unforgettable characters in the Nine Realms, while a sinister vendetta hangs like a dagger above his family. A blending of history, Scandinavian folklore, and fantasy, this novel will demand you set aside time for a reading adventure.

To read The Vardoger Boy is to enter a vivid world made real by details of the setting, characters, and language of the time. By describing these elements in the third person, Jay Veloso Batista not only shows us outer landscapes but the intensification of images on an emotional and psychological level as well. He can describe both the individual and collective emotions of a Viking crowd. He can even describe lurking scenes that his characters cannot see. The context of the story’s period and its fantastic elements then become vital to the story’s overall appeal, especially in the direction of the plot. To anyone who loves reading fantasy and historical adventures, this story that takes inspiration from Scandinavian history and folklore will appeal to you.

Rabia Tanveer

The Vardoger Boy is the second book in the Forerunner Series by Jay Veloso Batista, a fantastic fantasy story that will keep you hooked until the end. The adventures of Thorfinn, a.k.a. Finn, continue as he encounters yet another challenge to prove his worth. The year is 878 A.D. and nothing as it should be. The war with the Saxon Kingdom is heavy and Agne and Cub are on the way to counter-attack the enemy. Leaving the remaining children and women alone, they have no idea they are exposing them to a danger that they don’t even know about. In the midst of it all, Finn has his own journey to focus on. His Uncle Karl is ready to take him under his wing and teach him the ways of Vikings. As a Vardoger, being a Viking should be easy. But there is no rest for the weary, especially for Vikings like Finn. What will Finn and the people of his clan do in their individual battles?

Fascinating and incredibly well-written, The Vardoger Boy is one of those detailed and descriptive stories that transport you right into the lives of the characters without even realizing it. I was sucked into the story as it began and I willingly became invested in each character’s story. The little subplots regarding Cub, Karl’s story, even the people they left behind to fend for themselves, grab the reader’s attention. Thorfinn is a mighty character. His development is brilliantly paced to bring attention to his arc while also making sure the reader is invested in his progress. His dialogues and his journey as the Vardoger are handled incredibly well by Jay Veloso Batista. The descriptions are amazing. They are long enough to make sure you are in the moment and vivid enough to transport you to wherever the characters are. I love Agne’s larger than life portrayal and Finn’s desire to understand the Nine Realms. The connection between Finn and Raga is very entertaining and proves to be just the right element to tie everything together. Everything is perfect in this book!