Review: Axe of Iron, The Settlers

Axe of Iron: The Settlers, by J.A. Hunsinger

One of the fun parts of a well-written historical novel is that in addition to being swept away to another place and time, the reader actually picks up some historical knowledge about a culture or time period that might otherwise have gone unnoticed.

J.A. Hunsinger's novel, Axe of Iron: The Settlers, is one of those enjoyable novels that teaches much as it entertains. This is the story of the Northmen (often erroneously referred to as Vikings) who settled on the coast of North America more than 500 years before Columbus "discovered" the Americas.

Hunsinger's knowledge of Norse history is extensive and the novel is rich in details describing the Northmen's customs and culture. Thankfully, however, this does not bog down the actual story. The characters are strong and three-dimensional: the stuggles of leader Halfdan Ingolfsson are engrossing as he and his fellow settlers strive to carve a new life for themselves in this new and hostile land.

Now I don't know about you, but A Reader's Respite, despite a life-long obsession with history, has managed to miss out on this culture and time frame. Thanks to Hunsinger, we're now ready to strike out and settle some strange land (or at the very least start reading more Norse history):

The Reader's Respite Expedition off to conquer the New York Public Library....a strange and uncharted land.

Who's in?

Just do us a favor and read the book first!

Title: Axe of Iron: The Settlers
Author: J.A. Hunsinger
ISBN-13: 978-0980160109
356 pages
Publisher: Vinland Publishing Llc
Date: August 1, 2008

More reviews thoughtfully provided for your perusal:

The Tome Traveller
Reading Mama
Divine Caroline


  1. I personally think that history teachers everywhere should start using these types of books to educate kids about the past. I HATED memorizing all those dates and facts, but when I read anything historical that is written in story form, I remember everything!

  2. I agree - there was so much that I was unaware of as well. Great review and love the pic!

  3. When I saw the book's cover, I thought you were reviewing a children's book.

  4. Excellent review and a lovely blog. This book is in my TBR pile and I am excited when I see great reviews of it.

    Great pic. Can I come along on your journey?


  5. Good Morning, Michelle, Sandy, Tracee, and bermudaonion,

    Thank you Michelle for posting your review of my novel, I'm glad you enjoyed it.
    And thank you all for taking the time to come by and leave a comment. I appreciate knowing what you think.
    The boat doesn't look seaworthy, but the voyage would definitely be an adventure. :)

    Best Wishes,

  6. Thanks Michele, I'd never heard of this one. Off to see if the library has it. Historical novels are such a wonderful way to learn about history, non-fiction can be so dry at times.

  7. Jerry:
    I noted on your bio that one of your fave movies/books is "Last of The Mohicans". That is a great romantic period of our American History and another of those excellent historical novels. One of the favorite books from my youth was "The Rifleman", based on the life of Tim Murphy, Revolutionary hero of Saratoga. It was out of print for decades and I searched online for years when, DOH!!! Found it in two minutes when I checked the Library of Congress and found the name of the unknown author! I think there are many parallels between those Viking pioneers and our subseqrent Anglo-Saxon-NORMAN ancestors who survived.
    A historical novel is on my own writing list since I grew up in the Susquehanna Valley and it became the frontier battle line during the "Great Runaway Time" of our Revolution as the pioneers called it.
    "Axe of Iron" is definitely on my reading list since I need a break from this contemporary political research jive.
    This is a great review of your book Jerry, from folks who have a very knowledgeable foundation and historical perspective.

    Johnnie "U"

  8. Sandy - I couldn't agree more. Well-researched hf novels are such a wonderful teaching tool. Wish they used more of them these days.

    Tracee - have I mentioned how much I get a kick out of your avatar? ;)

    Kathy - I know, I thought the art department could have done a snappier job to get attention in a bookstore, but under that cover lies a gem.

    Cheryl - please do...we need all the explorers we can get. With any luck, we'll all get lost for a year or two (so bring some good books along).

  9. Jerry, thank you so much for taking the time to stop by today. It's my understanding that The Settlers is just the first in a series? You've chosen a terrific subject (and we all thank you for not writing about the Tudors). ;)

  10. Misfit - you and I live so darned close to each other that we need to set up a book know, like spies of old. Put on your thinking cap and we'll figure out a place. :)

  11. John,

    Thank you for taking the time to drop by and leave a comment. This social networking effort that all are making is time consuming, but I hope valuable, too.

    Write a historical fiction novel, John. Study the period that engages your interest and you will find the gaps left in our understanding of the people who lived the tale. It is there that you will find the bones of the story to tell with character-driven fiction, as I have done.


  12. Michelle,

    Yes, my Axe of Iron series will be five or six consecutive novels. Each will began where the preceding volume left off.

    As to the cover of Axe of Iron: The Settlers, I engaged the services of an artist, it did not come form an art department at my print company. She struggled to provide what I wanted and did her best. Someone's best effort has always been good enough for me and I accepted her work. It is unfortunate that some regard the cover as encapsulating a children's book. Nothing could be further from the truth, but as I have stated, the artist's efforts stand as presented. The first printing is 5000-copies, so that is that.


  13. Jerry - I am so glad to hear this will be a series and can't wait to read the rest!

  14. I love the Viking period -- And learned a lot when I was in Denmark. I agree with Kathy (Bermuda) that I thought by the cover that it was a children's book.

    And I'm thrilled to know that I have a whole new series to read!

  15. What a gr~8 cover. It sounds like a fun read, Michele : }.
    I think this book should be planted firmly in every history class!!!
    Gr~8 review!!!

  16. Just wanted to let you know that you have an award waiting here :)

  17. Michelle,

    Thank you for my day on your blog. Your site looks great and I like the way you handle all of us—very engaging.

    To everyone who left a comment, thank you very much once again. I really appreciate that you took time to stop by.

    I am taking my wife out to dinner. This day is done for us. :)

    Best Regards,

  18. I love learning about history in this format (historical fiction, history IN a novel).

    A planned series of 5?! Impressive!

    Have fun on your journey, Michele. Do your feet pop out the bottom a la Fred Flinstone?!?

  19. Great looking book. I wish I knew more about the Norsemen.

  20. I'm really enjoying the pic.

    As a teacher, just gotta say... I'd love to have the freedom to teach books like this. Unfortunately, with this economy, our budget is so frozen that we can't even buy whiteboard markers.

    One of many reasons why teachers use the same old texts...

  21. Kate - so glad a teacher chimed in here. It can't be easy to have to teach to certain standards without the equipment to do so. If it were up to me, there would be a minimum teacher's salary of a MINIMUM of 100K per year. You all deserve that and so much more.

    For what it's worth, I can remember a high school history teacher showing the old Monty Python and the Quest for the Holy Grail movie in class just to demonstrate Medieval living conditions. Maybe that's why I'm so messed up, LOL.

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Fire away!