I first read this in February 2014, and I've been meaning to reread it ever since. Thankfully, I never did or I might not have been tempted to get this on audiobook when it was released. And that would've been a shame since that would've meant missing out on Hamish Long's brilliant narration. He has a storybook quality to his voice, a Neil Gaiman-esque style of reading, that really fits perfectly with this story. I can't imagine anyone else doing this narration, and I really hope he gets tons more work because he deserves it.
(He does make one teeny, tiny error though. He pronounces Samhain "sam-hane" instead of "sow-in" with "sow" sounding like "cow", which would be the correct pronunciation.)
I loved this book the first time I read it, and I was happy to see it held up over time. Brother Caius and viking Fenrir are such an unlikely duo, but they work here. The story is woven into a rich tapestry of historical detail, fantasy elements, religious dogma versus spiritual knowledge, and includes a cast of characters who are fully realized and each get their own little arcs. This takes place during a time in the Christian church when the church started pulling away from science in favor of zeal, and it's on the cusp of this change that Caius and Fenrir meet and form an unlikely bond.
Cai is angry about the death of his lover, and Fen slowly realizes that he's been abandoned by his people. Cai has every reason to hate Fen, and Fen was raised to be prejudiced against Christians. Cai is struggling to be a good monk and a good man, despite often feeling like he's neither. He just wants to live in peace, but life is determined not to give it to him.
Seeing these two men slowly learn to trust each other, and watching Fen ingrate himself into monastery life was a treat to savor all over again. I'd forgotten a lot about the story over the years, but as I listened, things would come back and become familiar again. I completely forgot about the ending, and got to experience that as if for the first time. :D
This is just one of those stories that hits all the right spots and doesn't waver in the telling.