Sandra Hill has written a series on three Viking brothers all traveling through time from the year 1000 to 2003. This is the third brother, Magnus’, story. He is The Very Virile Viking, in that he has 13 children, 11 of whom are living, and nine of whom come through time with him. While I’m not an experienced time travel reader, there were some aspects of this story that I found distracting and I think some dedicated time travel readers may be bothered by them as well.
Magnus, you see, has had a litany of women… “four wives, six concubines, numerous passing fancies and at least one barley-faced maid”. He has lost them all, mostly through death and one through divorce. He has taken a vow of celibacy for the purpose of swearing off having more children. He has decided to take nine of them, ages sixteen to 18 months, on a voyage searching for his long-lost brothers, who headed out for the new world and are believed dead. Yet Magnus has had a dream, which he interprets to mean they are alive.
During this voyage, he has a dream they are in a fog. In the fog, he sees an old woman praying and when they awaken, he is on his longboat in Hollywood, California. Here he meets a movie producer who wants him for his newest film about a Viking. He also meets his destiny.
Angela Abruzzi is the granddaughter of a vineyard owner, who needs money. Angela sells real estate in LA just to keep the Blue Dragon vineyards operating, but they need an influx of money. She decides to rent their vineyard to the producer for a movie, and she is at the studio settling the deal when they discover the Viking. She agrees to take him and his children to her home, to keep him under wraps for the studio, in order to cinch the deal for the movie.
Angela and Magnus immediately lust for each other. She also sees how wonderful of a father he is to his children. They fall in love, but have to get through the whole issue of who these people are and why they are suddenly in L.A. There are subplots about the brothers and mysterious accidents that keep occurring around the Blue Dragon that also must be solved.
There is a lot of comic relief here which goes a long way to moving the story along. It is subtle in its exploration of culture differences and discoveries. For instance, he readily accepts the horseless carriage and can automatically relate that a Wal-Mart is a market. Yet, all through the book he struggles with the “tea-shert”, “the moat-or-sigh-call”, and “Ah-mare-ee-ca”, to name a few.
It’s this contradiction that keeps the story from being better. First, as different as the world is, no one discovers there has been time travel for several weeks, when Magnus accidentally sees a newspaper with the date. Up to that time, he just thinks they are in the new world and a civilization that is far advanced. Secondly, Angela just keeps assuming the guy is a really good actor sticking to his role when he questions basic things, like cars and telephones.
Everyone they meet just accepts Magnus and his children. They acknowledge they have a strange language, speaking very proper “British” and some language that must be Norse, but Magnus and the kids never seem to have any trouble understanding anything said to them. In fact, they pick up the slang extremely quickly. They readily accept TV, bathrooms, modern kitchens and radio. I could go on, but I think this gives you a picture of some of my issues with how readily they adjust to a world 1000 years in the future from what they know.
As far as the romance of the story, it is fair. Most of their interactions are full of innuendo when around the kids, are little back-and-forth dialogues, or are in bed. Besides being virile, Magnus is also lusty. He keeps to his vow of celibacy by some creative love play, until he discovers the wonderful invention called birth control. Then there is no stopping him. Angela is a more than willing participant.
Magnus is as one would expect…a male dominant in a world that has changed. Angela, on the other hand, doesn’t know what to make of him. Recently divorced from a philandering “creep”, she swears she will steer clear. Yet she is off to the races, er, rather the bedroom, very quickly. At times she shows strength of character, and at other times, she just succumbs to his manly attributes. I am never sure which way I like her better.
Yet, I found myself engrossed in their story, just to see how it would all come out. The writing is almost tongue in cheek. So while I struggled with some of the situations, I had no problem maintaining my interest. The mystery is rather obvious and there is little doubt as to how things will turn out. The children are well-developed and actually act like children, most of the time. The woman in Magnus’ dream is Angela’s grandmother, a sweetheart of a person who readily accepted this stranger as her granddaughter’s love.
It is these pros and cons that cause me to struggle with the rating - ending up with a think twice caveat. If you found Sandra Hill’s other stories enjoyable, you may well like The Very Virile Viking. If, however, you like some sense of reality even in a time travel story, you should just pass this one by.