Sweeping adventure, breathtaking twists of fate, and immersive worlds based in Norse mythology are woven into this first volume of the Runestone Saga, from the New York Times bestselling author of the Seven Realms and Shattered Realms series.
Since Ragnarok—the great war between the gods and the forces of chaos—the human realm of the Midlands has become a desperate and dangerous place, bereft of magic.
Sixteen-year-old Eiric Halvorsen is among the luckier ones—his family has remained prosperous. But he stands to lose everything when he’s wrongly convicted by a rigged jury of murdering his modir and stepfadir. Also at risk is Eiric’s half-systir, Liv, who’s under suspicion for her interest in seidr, or magic. Then a powerful jarl steps in: He will pay the blood price if Eiric will lead a mission to the fabled Temple at the Grove—the rich stronghold of the wyrdspinners, the last practitioners of sorcery.
Spellsinger, musician, and runecaster Reginn Eiklund has spent her life performing at alehouses for the benefit of her master, Asger, a fire demon she is desperate to escape. After one performance that amazes even herself, two wyrdspinners in the audience make Reginn an irresistible offer: return with them to the Temple to be trained in seidr, forever free of Asger.
Eiric’s, Liv’s, and Reginn’s journeys converge in New Jotunheim, a paradise fueled by magic and the site of the Temple. They soon realize that a great evil lurks beneath the dazzling surface and that old betrayals and long-held grudges may fuel another cataclysmic war. It will require every gift and weapon at their command to prevent it.
What’s it about (in a nutshell):
Children of Ragnarok by Cinda Williams Chima is an epic historical fantasy rooted in Norse mythology and doesn’t shy away from its darker aspects.
Initial Expectations (before beginning the book):
I love the cover. It’s gorgeous! And the fact that the story is based on Norse mythology has my imagination tingling. The description tells of a story full of magic and with lots of action and adventure, both of which I love. It is listed as a YA book, so that can mean teenagerly things I don’t care for, but it doesn’t sound like a story that would have stuff like angst.
Actual Reading Experience:
I found the story to be engaging and compelling without fail. Everyone knows that I get bored very quickly, but not once do I lose focus when reading this story because there was just too much action for that to happen.
I love that the author was not scared to embrace the darkness of the times reflected in the book. The world was not a happy shiny place back in early Norse history at the time of the Vikings, nor is it a happy shiny place in this book. The story reflects the barbarism that existed then and the fallout from that kind of world to perfection.
I felt like I got to dive deeper into Norse mythology than ever before, and I loved it. It’s so complex and fascinating. Also, it is much more violent than Greek/Roman mythology, which also has some brutal aspects.
The only thing I was the least bit disappointed in was the cliffhanger at the end. I do not care for cliffhangers, instead preferring soft conclusions. Partly because they…well…leave you hanging, as this one does, at such a crucial time. And because I feel like the author doesn’t trust my love for their characters enough that they realize I will want to follow the tale to the end on that alone. It’s a teaser of the meanest kind.
Eiric is the epitome of the swashbuckling hero. Descended from two different Gods, he has much more potential than even he realizes.
Liv is Eirics half-sister who came to live with them when they were young. Her history is a mystery but one she discovers the answers to as the story unfolds.
Reggin is a thrall who can bring the dead back to life. But she has no idea where her magic comes from or how to control it. When she is freed from captivity by a spinner and brought to New Jotenheim, she hopes to learn about her magic and, ultimately, about herself.
All the characters have troubling lives and pasts full of hardship and sorrow that have helped shape them into the characters we meet. They are all well-developed and complex, shaped by the scars you can see and those you can’t.
Narration & Pacing:
The narration is in the third person and focuses on two characters alternately: Eiric and Reggin. Both of their tales are exceptionally compelling and only intertwine at a few random points, which gave me a much broader understanding than I would have had otherwise.
The pacing is relatively quick, as plenty of action and thrills keep those pages flipping. I loved the pace, especially in a fantasy with so much world-building. Sometimes that world-building can slow things down in other books but not this one.
World-building / Use of Setting:
I found the world-building to be exceptional. The details are superb and pulled me into the story in a comprehensive sensory manner. I experienced the basicness of the buildings in the village and the much more elaborate structures on the islands of New Jotenheim with my whole being. I could smell the firewood, feel the cold and wetness outside, and hear the wind whistling through the cracks and crevices of the long homes.
I also loved the magic, which was a combination of elemental magic, rune magic, and healing nature magic. The magic system is so diverse as some stems from the Gods themselves, while other magic is carried through mortal bloodlines. And yet one more magic – elemental magic – is so old that it invokes fear in other magic-wielders for being more potent than anything they can produce.
Read if you like:
- Dark fantasy
- Norse mythology
- Great character-driven story
|‘Couldn’t Put It Down’-ness||8|
|Use of Setting||10|