Thursday, February 18, 2010

Ragnarok's gonna get ya if you don't watch out!

I've always been a big fan of mythology, Greco-Roman, Norse, American Indian, I love mythology. The stories of gods and goddesses, of godlings, demi-gods, mythical creatures, and things that may or may not exist just beyond the pale of our understanding. I grew up reading of the exploits of of great and fearful creatures. I grew up reading mythical tales of the formation of the world; The Great Turtle who carried the world on his back; Atlas holding up the heavens on his massive shoulders; the Coyote trickster; Loki the god of mischief; his half-brother, Thor, the god of lightning & Thunder; Aries, the god of War (called Mars by the Romans), Pan, the companion of the nymphs, god of shepherds and flocks; Deadlus, who's son, Icarus, flew too close to the sun on wings of feathers and wax, and died a fiery death.

I read early on many of the world myths that were told by the ancients who needed to describe the world around them using the words that they had to describe that which they didn't understand. Perhaps this is why to this day I am so entranced by comicbook heroes, and epic movies. This is why I believe in heroes.

To paraphrase Voltaire before me, I have long held that “If there were no Heroes, it would have been necessary to invent them.” Yes, I have mentioned it before, but I am a Heroist. I am a believer in the cult of heroes. I love the great world-myths; perhaps this is why I craft stories about the world around me. I use fiction, romance, and stories to describe the world around me, as those who preceded me in this, my preferred craft.

Personally, I prefer Norse mythology to Greco-Roman; perhaps that is because the Greco-Roman is the more familiar lore. So it was natural that the mere title to Greg Van Eekhout's breakout novel, Norse Code, in and of itself, was a huge draw for me.

According to the author's description of the book:

As human civilizations crumble, Valkyries prepare for Ragnarok by using DNA testing to select perfect warriors for their army of the dead. Resurrected NorseCODE operative Mist loses faith in the project after a tragic accident, and she goes AWOL. After Mist encounters the near-forgotten god Hermod as he investigates portents of doom along the California coastline, the two journey into the afterlife of Helheim, where they make some unexpected allies. With deities scheming and ancient prophecies coming true, can a reluctant Valkyrie and a world-weary god prevent the apocalypse?

Van Eekhout crafts an engaging and delight story of the end of the world as foretold by the Norns and filtered through SoCal culture and mores. Having read the tales of old, I was entertained and thrilled by how well Van Eekhout managed to weave his apocalyptic vision replete with his modern-day revisionism, and still keep it true to its ancient roots. The story was well-told, and compelling all the way through, with the ultimate resolution, being not quite what you expect.

well worth the investment of time and money.

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