The Misanthrope #7

April 28th, 2021

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Hi, people, how are you? I haven’t written review for quite a long time so I have to pretend that I’m humble and that I care about my audience. So, thank you for joining me and hope you'll enjoy my new review. Now that I feel like cheap hooker, we can start.
Today I'll present to my dear audience (I hope you bastards appreciate effort) book ‘A Gathering of Ravens’ (Editor’s Note: So, a murder?) by Scott Oden. It is first book in ongoing series called ‘Grimnir’. Two books have been released so far and third book is expected to be released in December.

So, what is book about, I hear you eloquent young minds ask? (I'm going to throw up).
Well, story is relatively simple: revenge. Old warrior sets out to kill his nemesis and his quests lead him all over Viking world (Denmark, England and Ireland) in early 11th century.
So, what is different about this book that separates it from all other viking themed books (and there is a lot of them)?
For starters, main hero isn't a hero at all. He is bitter, vile, violent, and murderous. He follows the old Norse Gods, wields an awesome seax and is generally bad-ass. He's pretty much the perfect grimdark anti-hero. Oh, yeah he is also an Orc. Yes, Orc! He describes himself as “I am called many things, Christ-Dane, Corpse-maker and Life-quencher, the Bringer of the Night, the Son of the Wolf and Brother of the Serpent. I am the last of Bàlegyr's brood, called Grimnir by my people.” It turns out it is not classic historical novel. Yes, events that happen in books are historical events, but since there is Orc and few other creatures it has fantasy flavour in it. Book is perfect mixture of Norse and Celtic mythology mixed with real historical events. I don't want to really go into deeper explanations to not spoil things that made me extremely happy. By that I don't necessarily mean gruesome depiction of killing of humans in book (yes, that makes me happy), but how various legends are interwoven into story.

Since I already covered Grimnir, you inquisitive people (kill me, please) are certainly wondering about other characters. Well, to be honest of all characters I only clearly remember one beside our main hero (anti-hero, villain – all names are pretty valid in Grimnir’s case), and that character is Etain. She is young Christian and very religious person which contrasts Griminr a lot. She is person through whose eyes we see legendary events which seem ordinary for Grimnir but with which other characters - as well as readers - aren't very familiar.
Etain was truly superb character and her development through book is very good. Through her we can also see a lot about historical times where clashes between Christians and Pagans happened in northern area of Europe. We see clashes of beliefs and how people see those beliefs challenged and how they were fundamentally changed or made stronger by those challenges.

So, you eloquent bunch (I'm in real pain now) might now ask: are there any bad things in book?
Honest answer is: not really. Only two things that may not be for some people is this book is travel oriented so you don't get detailed description of places and you don't feel how lives were affected by various events in these books – especially if you don't know historical background. Second possible criticism is that there aren’t many real characters. By real I mean there isn't a lot of characterization for them, but those who are important for plot are really well-written. Secondary characters, not so much.

All in all, ‘A Gathering of Ravens’ is a great read that strongly evokes feelings of past times. Oden's take on magic, myth and folklore was finely imagined and seemed extremely well researched and reworked. What is also important to mention is that although this is part of ongoing series, books aren't connected by anything with the exception that Griminir plays main role in them so you can enjoy them without worrying about cliffhangers or unresolved plot points.

I hope that you enjoyed this review and that you come back soon. Seriously, I hate this asslicking and I hate you. If I do this again let someone please shoot me with a taser, accidentally or otherwise.

Go away now!

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Tags: Ivan Grabar, Reviews, Books