This one has been on my TBR for a long time and I’m glad I finally got to it! This one will appeal to those who like low fantasy, Norse mythology and culture, and military POVs.
This starts out with a young man and his father making their way to a meeting of the jarls. The old king just died and it’s up to the leaders of the smaller factions to figure out who they want to lead them. Old rivalries between the clans lead to tensions running high, and Raef’s father ends up dead on a hunting trip. Raef was told that it was an accident, that a boar killed his father, but he doesn’t believe that for a second. Raef’s father was one of influence and power, the lord of his lands and a smart man to boot. There were more than a few people who would want him out of the way, the problem is Raef doesn’t know which one. He thought he got a confession out of one of the soldiers that “found the boar”, but a confession under duress leads him down the wrong path. He has to team up with those he doesn’t trust to make it through the war and find justice for his father.
This is a book where the more I read it the more I liked it after a lukewarm start, by the end I knew I was going to be reading book 2, the last half of this book really got me engaged. I think my main problem was that it’s so plot-heavy and fast paced that I didn’t get to know the characters well until I was much further along in the book. I sort of felt like the romance between Raef and Sai was a bit rushed, a chapter or two after her introduction they were already together and I didn’t get to see a lot of interaction between them before it happened. As the book progressed though, and I got to know the characters a bit better I started getting really into it, the last half of the book was a ton of fun as secret backstories of the characters came to light.
I do tend to enjoy military fantasy and battle strategy and this was no different, it’s what kept me turning pages, there are alliances that are forged and broken, and clans that come together and form larger armies raising the stakes and the scale. The military and battle parts of the book reminded me a lot of The Heroes by Joe Abercrombie – in that it’s low fantasy (so it’s not a lot of fireballs being thrown and magic powers trying to outdo each other) – and about boots on the ground with axes and spears. It’s not as bloody as I would have expected for such a military based book, it had a lot of strategy and politics going, and a murder mystery as well that kept me guessing.
This was a very well written book, I liked the dialogue and the speed at which I was able to get through this book. It was on the shorter side, less than 400 pages which kept it very fast paced. Not a lot of time spent on details that don’t matter or getting sidetracked away from the main story.
The world building had a lot to do with Odin, Thor, and their children that still walk among the humans. There are those called the Deep Minded that can see into the future and appear to be nearly omniscient. One of their prophecies haunts Raef throughout the book and kept me wondering about what she meant as well. By the end, more fantasy elements came into play but it may be a spoiler to talk about them.
Overall I quite liked this book, and I’ll be continuing on to the next in the series whenever it is that my TBR allows it, haha. I recommend this for anyone looking for a fast-paced epic fantasy that’s lighter on the magic and heavier on the weaponry.
- low fantasy
- norse mythology
- single pov
- half gods
- murder mystery
- Plot: 12.5/15
- Characters: 10/15
- World Building: 12/15
- Writing: 12/15
- Pacing: 12/15
- Originality: 11/15
- Personal Enjoyment: 7.5/10