I received a review copy of The Odin Mission by James Holland as a part of Transworld's Reading Group. It was quite good.
Here's the synopsis from Amazon:
April 1940. Nazi Germany has invaded neutral Norway. Fleeing north from their brutal Blitzkrieg advance are three officers of the King’s Guard – men who have been entrusted by the Norwegian King with a vitally important mission. The only military force which stands between the Nazi forces and total victory are the poorly equipped, undertrained squaddies of the British 148th Brigade. Among them is Sergeant Jack Tanner, recently returned from the Middle East. As the British are pushed back from Lillehammer, Sergeant Tanner and his patrol are left stranded in the mountains in the chaos of retreat. Trying to rejoin their unit, they stumble first across Sandvold and his protectors, and then a French patrol of alpine troops. Trekking through snow-clad mountains with the Germans dogging their every move, Tanner is forced to try and out-fox and out-fight not only their pursuers but the best efforts of his own side. And as the Allies' resistance collapses, it quickly becomes clear that the small band of fugitives can rely on no-one but themselves.
For the most part I enjoyed this book. The Second World War is a period that I've always been very interested in. However I knew nothing about Norway's involvement in it so the idea of this book intrigued me. James Holland is an historian and the book is fully of accurate details which really add to it's feel. I'm quite intrigued now to read more about Norway and the war.
It also uses several military terms relevant to the time. These are explained in a glossary at the back of the book. Personally I would have preferred this to be at the beginning of the book mostly because I spent ages trying to figure out what one of the terms was and even googled it (unsuccessfully). That said I did like the use of the slang and it really does help with the realism of the story. There's no denying that James Holland is a talented writer.
Having visited Norway many years ago the descriptions of the weather, seasons and especially the landscape struck a chord with me. I really enjoyed the two weeks we spent there all those years ago, the stunning views in particular. Whilst the book does a very good job of describing them it doesn't do them justice. But it did make me hanker to go back!
Jack Tanner is a brilliant character. I really liked him, he was gritty and fierce when needed but also had a softer side and obviously cares a lot for the men under his command. A man of honour, his determination to do what's right and get things done pervades the entire book and provides a major part of the plot. This is the first of several books in which he features and I'll definitely be reading more of them.