“Banished” is set in England’s 11th Century, at the court of England’s only Viking king, Canute.  Audra Fingalsdatter and Sigmar Alvarsen were childhood friends who were separated by a blood feud between their families that caused both families' banishment.  Audra and her father Fingal fled to Kievan Rus, where she trained as an elite warrior.  Sigmar and his father ended up serving Canute in his rise to power. Audra and Fingal come to England to join Canute as he tries to consolidate his power in England.  Childhood friendship flashes quickly into adult passion when Audra and Sigmar reunite, but the hatred between their fathers is still raw and palpable. Thrown into close contact, Audra and Sigmar move beyond lust to love, but can they move past the constraints of family honor, or will their fathers’ hatred tear them apart? 

With echoes of “Romeo and Juliet,” “Banished” is a wonderfully fast-paced, historically accurate romp through Anglo-Saxon England in the decades before the Norman Conquest.  Ms. Markland does a brilliant job of evoking the period with colorful detail without allowing her plot to bog down for a moment.  As the story winds through fascinating scenes, the reader can’t help but root for the lovers. The characters, even the minor ones, all spring to life with well-defined, complex personalities.  On only a few occasions does the author use a Norse word without enough explanation or brush over a description where the reader needs more detail. If “Banished” has a flaw, it is that it is too short.

Marc Joseph