Brothers of the Wild North Sea is a love story – I’ll get to it – but it’s first and foremost a piece of time and Earth in a changing world.We’re in the 7th century, when some of the great civilisations of the Antiquity are not so far behind in time but still burnt to ashes and safeguarded in scholars’ memories.In Europe, Christianism is taking root, evangelizing, converting and elaborating doctrines, associating with new kingdoms, building monasteries and a Church where there were only hermits.We’re in Fara, a piece of land at the northeast of Britannia, a place first conquered by Rome, populated now with its descendants living alongside the Saxons.It’s a place with dunes, fragrant thyme, seagulls and seals, and terrifying prows on the horizon announcing raids that are as much giving rhythm to the seasons as the changing nature is.Caius was converted to Christianism and he became a monk to escape his warlord of a father and what he views as a bestial and barbaric inheritance. He’s hungry for light, knowledge and higher ideals.His mind blossoms under his abbot’s teachings, learning to observe, question and think, becoming a physician, trying not so successfully to come to terms with his new religion and its demand for detachment and enjoying his failures in the matter.His world topples over when the monastery is not only raided and suffering great losses, but also troubled by a new abbot who stakes his claim on the small community, preaching hellfire, fear and blind obedience.When the Vikings leave a dying man in their wake, Caius first seeks revenge, then lets the physician in him take precedence. Fenrisulfr has been abandoned by his brothers to die alone on a britannian beach, then is saved by a man who is as much his jailor as his healer.My main issue in this book is Fen’s character, who is – should be – the most intriguing…. I liked him but he isn’t as fleshed out as Caius. I failed to see him as a dangerous barbarian and people repeated so many times in the story that Fen was and remained untamed that frankly, I grew annoyed with it. If you’re a sucker for ambiguous character like me, you’ll be frustrated with Fen too.Anyway, as time passes by, two men meet, find solace and companionship; languages are found a common ground, beliefs are explained, desires fullfiled. They forge an alliance to protect a small community at a crossroads, one man intent on protecting his brothers and the neighborly population against obscurantism and sea pirates, the other intent on supporting him.Brothers of the Wild North Sea is the story of their love, their quest for a secret treasure and their struggle; it’s a story of individual awakening, of guidance through changes under a wolf’s protection.The prose is poetic and it was a pleasure to bathe in the description and evocation of earthy sensuality – skins basking in the sun, salty lips and bodies rolling on the sand, fragrances and inviting moon, just as it was captivating to read the rich symbolism weaved in the story telling, in the names and imagery that embraces Vikings, Normans, Celts and Saxons, paganism and christianism, science and religion. It adds amazing layers to this story.The lyricism and leisurely pace were counterbalanced to a lesser extent by a blunter language, anguish, action, suspense and even humour but still, I grew impatient sometimes because the violence that is an important part of this story is underdeveloped, because the emotions are a little tame and because I’m a greedy masochist!This was my first read by Harper Fox and even if I wish she didn’t hold her punches, I get that it is her style. Brothers of the Wild North Sea is a compelling read and I recommend it for the captivating world it is picturing and its beautiful love story.