“Lora, you’re a great one for solving riddles, but you haven’t solved this riddle. Everything we’ve done has been just like we’d figure someone in a saga should do a thing. A big man comes along and threatens you, pull out your axe and stand up to him. If his housecarls attack, kill them. It’s all very Fjordlander.

“But we need to think like something else.”

Thus, Thay Sorig, one of four Fjordlanders born on Darknight to different mothers seventeen years earlier, sets a course towards a destiny different from the perilous one selected for them by their goddess, Rulla, Dealer of Fates. Rulla’s runecasting foretold a great wyrd, the rise of Fjordland’s first king, but at the cost of great upheaval.

And the youngsters are ensnared in such upheaval. As all skalds know, not all Fjordlander gods are allied to common cause and will often butt heads the great sagas. Tanat the Rogue turned their world on its head during the Sea Wolves’ disaster near Straeland’s capital, leaving the youths alone in a strange land and they must survive on their own wits. As they make for home, they encounter Elkor the Grim, a misshapen outcast who forces them to re-evaluate everything they ever understood about their identity. The Sea Wolves raid and plunder foreign shores, bringing to these lands the brand and the axe. What does this make of Fjordlanders? How can it possibly be a good thing? In this great saga, are the four youngsters the heroes or the villains?

Things take a turn for the worse when an ill-fated confrontation occurs with a Straelish nobleman, Korgash Hasselmann, whose hatred of Elkor and Thorn People (that the Straelings call Fjordlanders) is only surpassed by the grandeur of his delusions. Spurred on by a calculating noblewoman, Lady Oda, Korgash pursues the youngsters across Straeland hoping to secure his own rise to power by killing the savage foreign raiders.

And so it is that the Fjordlanders come to realize that casting aside one’s destiny and forging one’s own rune slate brings its own risks. Supposedly omnipresent gods measure a person’s worth by how well they meet their wyrds. But are the Fjordlander gods as potent in a foreign land where the people have their own martial god? And, what if they are ill-equipped to inherit the fate supposedly reserved for them? What if prophesy is nothing but lies dressed up in a false religion?

The Broken Dream continues the Northern Fire pentalogy, and gives the work greater complexity. It lays bare the horrors of violence between peoples and draws contrasts between societal traditions and  learning. Questions of cross-cultural understanding, loyalty, and grief lie at its rich heart. It takes the reader to terrain rarely covered in literature of the fantastic, all the while being a damned-good read.