Norse Code by Greg van Eekhout (2009)

February 23, 2011 at 9:35 pm (mythology, urban fantasy)

This novel gave me what I can only call a “seventies vibe.”   That is, something about the execution reminded me of speculative fiction novels from the 1970s, or possibly even the 1960s.  Which is odd, because I haven’t felt similarly about other urban fantasy novels (of which I have read some, not many).

At any rate, van Eekhout’s premise is that the Norse gods were and are real, and that Ragnarok thing?  About to happen.  Fimbulwinter (three years of just winter) is already in progress.   One of the main characters, Mist, was recruited to be a Valkyrie and is having second thoughts; the other is Hermod, a god still carrying around a load of guilt about his brother Baldur’s death.  The big plot, of course, is about whether the world’s going to end or not, or more specifically, whether Hermod and Mist can keep it from ending.

I enjoyed the read – it’s definitely a well-written book – but I don’t think it’s going to remain part of our permanent collection.  Fundamentally, it didn’t hold many surprises for me.  Perhaps I just know too much about Norse mythology already, or I’ve just read too many Norse-based books in the last few years.

Okay, I’ve read two others: Runemarks by Joanne Harris, and All the Windwracked Stars by Elizabeth Bear.   And upon reflection, it might be difficult to find three books based on the same mythology that are more different.

Still, I reached the end of the book with a feeling of satisfaction that it wound up more or less as I expected.  I suppose from some perspectives that’s a good thing.  But while it’s a good book, don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t have that whatever-it-is that sets it apart from other books.   Your mileage may vary, of course.


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