After a stewards enquiry:
5 out of 5 Stars
Fantasy, Viking period.
Jo Fletcher Books
Bought Thanks to not telling the wife
In the south of Sweden, Adun and Ulfar arejoining forces with Sigurd, Sven and King Jolawer Scot, to go in search of Sweyn Forkbeard. Though they convince the King of the Danes that truce and union is the way forward, they soon discover that safety doesn’t always lie in numbers.
Meanwhile, King Olav Tryggvason is struggling to keep the peace. He’s won the battle against Hakon Jarl, but his men are bored, his food is running out and the local chieftans are descendiong upon his new home, intent on making his life miserable – and short. When faith comes up against family, something has to give.
But evil is all around: it comes on the wind, sweeping down from the cold places. It drives animals mad with fear. It draws black souls to its centre. It warps and twists, and in its frosty footsteps lies the promise of a thrice-long winter…and Ragnarok.
The old gods are preparing for a last fight with Christianity and Viking legends are made real -stalking the earth either preparing for, or bringing, the end of the world.
Swords of Good Men (The Valhalla Saga I) was an absolutely storming first affair. Book two, Blood Will Follow, kind of took its eye off the ball a little. Though, this may say more about me, than the book, however. As I had completely, all the way through reading Swords, failed to notice that it was actually described as a ‘fantasy.’ Where I’d been under the impression that it was for real. There were a couple of points where I thought ‘hmm…’ but got caught up in it all and let it pass. You see, I don’t do fantasy these days. I did a lot when I was younger (until the later Mythago Wood’s disappeared up their own arses), but now, I like my fantasy real. In that, stories set realistically in real periods are fantasy; because what happened is made up. It could have happened, but it most likely didn’t. In that way, all Historical Fiction can be called ‘fantasy,’ in my view.
The first half of Path of Gods, I did have a little bit of a problem getting through, I will admit. It did seem to spend a little too long in the kind of nonsense that Robert Low would just love. Though with extra fantasy. Actually, Robert Low’s last was sometimes more of a fantasy than this one is as a whole. At least it’s not raining all the time here, just snowing. There didn’t seem to be enough information given, to be able to get a total grasp of what was happening and what Snorri wanted to put over and for us to understand. It was hard to keep up with who was who, who wasn’t who, where they were or where they were going. As for who was actually still alive or not and why and why the others, who presumably were alive, didn’t seem to notice, or if they did, not think too much about it, well…I was more than a little puzzled.
Then, around the p100 mark, everything came together. I latched onto the idea I’ve written in the first sentence here – for right or wrong – and suddenly the whole book worked an absolute treat. So much so, I later wondered if I shouldn’t have read the whole thing ‘backwards.’ The second half gave so much meaning, maybe I should have read those passages first, then I’d have understood what was going on in the first half. Though, maybe this uncertainty was exactly what Snorri was after? The snow covering everything, a metaphor for covering up what was going on? The characters not really knowing what was going on around them, or to them, could be the way of seeing why the first sections came over (to me) as they did.
There are some wonderfull battles, excellent passages in and around the forests, the sense of dread, that I can quite imagine the people of the time did have, is, as they say, palpable. The sense of things moving in the background, half glimpsed, at the edge of vision, maybe coming towards you, with a power that is otherworldly and totally beyond your capabilities to physically deal with, is superbly put over. By not being able to completely explain, not wanting to either maybe, the world around them, these people saw nature and natural – or unnatural events – as god’s will, the gods will, if you like. Everything was in place, everything running smoothly, the gods taking care of business…then comes Christianity and destroys it all. That’s the only conclusion I get here. The gods have their final battles (though they may not be finished yet, as I think I saw Snorri say he is commissioned to write further books), their death throws, their last stand. They don’t go quietly into the good night at all – and thinking back on this book and the preceding two, it is my absolute pleasure to have ‘seen’ it all (so far), thanks to Snorri.
Read this, read the others first and I think, by thinking, you’ll get a hell of a lot out of them.
Buy Path of Gods at The Book Depository