- A Gathering of Ravens.
- Scott Oden.
- 337 pages.
- Fantasy / Historical / Historical Fantasy / Dark Fantasy / Fiction.
- My Rating: Hell Yeah Book Review.
To the Danes, he is skraelingr; to the English, he is orcnéas; to the Irish, he is fomoraig. He is Corpse-maker and Life-quencher, the Bringer of Night, the Son of the Wolf and Brother of the Serpent. He is Grimnir, and he is the last of his kind—the last in a long line of monsters who have plagued humanity since the Elder Days.
Drawn from his lair by a thirst for vengeance against the Dane who slew his brother, Grimnir emerges into a world that’s changed. A new faith has arisen. The Old Ways are dying, and their followers retreating into the shadows; even still, Grimnir’s vengeance cannot be denied.
Taking a young Christian hostage to be his guide, Grimnir embarks on a journey that takes him from the hinterlands of Denmark, where the wisdom of the ancient dwarves has given way to madness, to the war-torn heart of southern England, where the spirits of the land make violence on one another. And thence to the green shores of Ireland and the Viking stronghold of Dubhlinn, where his enemy awaits.
But, unless Grimnir can set aside his hatreds, his dream of retribution will come to nothing. For Dubhlinn is set to be the site of a reckoning—the Old Ways versus the New—and Grimnir, the last of his kind left to plague mankind, must choose: stand with the Christian King of Ireland and see his vengeance done or stand against him and see it slip away?
Firstly, before the review, we shall get the formalities out the way. Faugh! Formalities! This is the last stop on The A Gathering of Ravens Blog Tour, many thanks to all those involved before me, the other awesome blogs, those who organised the tour and of course, Scott Oden for writing the book!
I’d read the book and wrote my review for the book over a month ago and I have been eagerly awaiting the chance to post it. I hope that I can give Grimnir a decent last tour stop and that he won’t come after me for revenge!
I received a free copy of this book courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
“To the Danes, he is skraelingr; to the English, he is orcnéas; to the Irish, he is fomoraig. He is Corpse-maker and Life-quencher, the Bringer of Night, the Son of the Wolf and Brother of the Serpent. He is Grimnir, and he is the last of his kind—the last in a long line of monsters who have plagued humanity since the Elder Days.”
Meet Grimnir, loveable, kind, caring, eloquent, polite, well mannered, sociable and pacifist cuddle bunny.
Faugh! Meet Grimnir, snarky, foul-mouthed, bad-tempered, mean, vile, obstinate, brutal, loner, all around badass, your new favourite anti-hero and a fucking awesome character!
You know by now that whenever possible I avoid spoilers or detailed analysis of the story in my reviews and in this case, I think that the blurb does a great job of outlying the overall story for you anyway.
Clocking in at 337 pages in length, A Gathering of Ravens is a short book but it is brilliantly paced, short, sharp chapters keep the story ever moving forward and there’s no wasted words or scenes cluttering up the narrative. Everything written has a point and helps to propel the story onwards building to the inevitable climax and Grimnir’s chance to enact his revenge.
“Witch, I think you’ve been mounted more often than Odin’s favourite mare.”
The writing found in A Gathering of Ravens is high quality, the characters, emotion, humour and the locations used in the book are all brought to life with the descriptive fast paced writing of Oden.
“We are all born, and we all die – be it from age and illness, like your people, or from battle, like mine. Everything between is what you make of it,” Grimnir said.
The world building is excellent, the mixture of Norse, Dane and Irish mythology all woven together works really well set against the backdrop of the historical medieval Europe setting.
The magic used is subtle and the Norse myths, standing stones, spirits, wights, witches and familiars that are encountered all feel organic to the story.
Another stellar aspect of the book is that of religion. The old Pagan ways of magic, creatures and Gods are dying out, being poisoned, forgotten and replaced by the new faith in Christianity and The Nailed God. This is where Oden pulls a genius masterstroke, by giving Grimnir a companion, pairing him with the devout young Christian Etain for a large part of the story. Taking what would otherwise have been a very solitary journey for Grimnir and turning it into something far more. Yes, a journey towards the end goal of revenge for Grimnir but also a journey of self-discovery for the pair.
During the arduous journey, encompassing Denmark, Ygdrassil, England and finally Ireland we are shown their two opposing and conflicting views of the world. Both are stubborn, set firm in their beliefs and ways. Grimnir with the old ways, Etain with the new and throughout the events that take place on their travels together, self-discovery, reluctant respect and admiration grows between the two.
Grimnir’s tale is a gory one, it’s a blood-soaked tale of revenge. He’s out to settle a centuries old score and there’s plenty of fighting that takes place throughout A Gathering of Ravens to back up his quest for vengeance. From one on one fights to full-scale battles and Oden writes them all brilliantly, you really get a feel for Grimnir’s savagery and the wicked glee that he takes in combat.
I really liked Etain as a character, she gets dragged along on Grimnir’s journey and is often the perfect foil for him. Also, Bjarki Half-Dane the object of Grimnir’s revenge. But at its core, A Gathering of Ravens is Grimnir’s tale and as such, he is the focal point of the story and what a character to base the book around!
Grimnir is not your stereotypical protagonist, far from it, usually an orc set on gaining vengeance would be the antagonist, the bad guy in the tale, but he’s not and Oden, thanks to his characterization manages to turn him from someone you should despise into someone you can’t help but like and root for. While not overly complex (sometimes you don’t want or need a complicated character in a story, just a badass who isn’t afraid to get their hands dirty, to shed blood and get the job done) he really is an ingenious creation.
A Gathering of Ravens was a book that I’d been eagerly anticipating since the beginning of the year. After subsequently reading both good and bad things about the book, suffice to say, my anticipation had been slightly tempered and that my expectations upon starting were rather mixed. Now, after finishing, I can safely say that those fears were unfounded and that I fucking loved everything about A Gathering of Ravens. Grimnir, the rest of the characters, the writing, the world building, the story being told and I personally, cannot find anything to pick fault over.
With the perfect blend of mythology and fantasy, A Gathering of Ravens is an outstanding read and sure to be one of the books of the year.
Purchase A Gathering of Ravens:
About Scott Oden:
Scott Oden was born in Indiana, but has spent most of his life shuffling between his home in rural North Alabama, a Hobbit hole in Middle-earth, and some sketchy tavern in the Hyborian Age. He is an avid reader of fantasy and ancient history, a collector of swords, and a player of tabletop role-playing games. When not writing, he can be found walking his two dogs or doting over his lovely wife, Shannon.
Oden’s previous works include the historical fantasy, The Lion of Cairo, and two historical novels, Men of Bronze and Memnon. He is currently working on his next novel.
- Website: https://scottoden.wordpress.com/
- Twitter: orcwriter
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Scott-Oden-Author/133964006640871
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