Review of the Song of the Ash Tree

Blurb:

Raef Skallagrim wants to take the sea road. His ship is fast and sleek, his crew skilled and eager, and they will seek out new lands and win fame in the eyes of the gods. But Raef’s father refuses to allow the journey and when a stranger brings word that the king is dead and a gathering has been called to choose a successor, Raef must set aside his dream for his duty to his ancestral lands and his father.

When factions split at the gathering to choose a successor, Raef finds himself mired in bloodshed and treachery. Forced to make an uneasy alliance with a man he does not trust, Raef must navigate the tides of a war among three kings while seeking revenge for cold-blooded murder.

But winter has come early to Midgard, and even the gods will feel the cold

My Review: (Warning Contains Spoliers)

Ragnarok is unraveling in front of Raef Skallagrim, and there is not much he can do about it. That is the impression I got from reading this series. Note that I have finished book 1 and will continue to finish book 2 & 3. This book, 900 pages of great writing prose, breathtaking description and snow! Lots of it. For 99p is a steal. Get it NOW! It is long, but if you want a Norse trilogy that has reminiscent themes of LOTR, you need to READ THIS.
If you like music when reading, then play the God of War Youtube unreleased soundtrack and Wardruna. Thoroughly gets you in the mood. If not feel free to skip this part.
This novel focuses on Raef’s journey, and for once I do feel much better about reading a character that is competent from the start when he loses everything dear to him. That said, I felt Raef was always a bit aloof, not using his head as he should have. But he’s a young man. When you’re an older man you have the benefit of maturity to make decisions. When you’re young, you’re either lazy or you’re really smart or you just don’t care and try to circumnavigate through this political game of thrones that Raef is thrust into. I think he qualifies for the third position.
By becoming too subservient sometimes towards the Hammerling, I felt like Vakre and Siva have his best interests at heart. Sometimes I was like, Raef, listen to them! Raef is a ladies man. Lucky….well that’s all I’ll say. But Raef I think has not known a true relationship with a woman. It remains to be seen how mature he will become. The Hammerling is one proper bastard that’s like Rollo from Vikings. Cunning and ruthless. The Palesworld is a manifestation of evil. Eira was a great character but I wanted to see more of her in the novel. I sometimes feel Vakre and Siv needed some more scenes, to at least tell Raef what he was doing was a bit of a strategic error.
And Ravens! How I loved the use of Ravens to show the use of Odin’s watchful eye. Odin is very comparable to Zeus in many areas. Odin is keeping watch over the world of mortals. The mythology in this is amazing. There was one moment where one of the characters was going to tell a story and then it didn’t happen (I assume for one of two reasons. First, probably to save up on the dreaded info dump that authors have to contend with in fantasy novels for that matter, or two, it could have dragged a bit) though for me I was a little underwhelmed at that. There are far more Christian stories/folk tales than there is Norse Mythology. Calling it Mythology could mean its just a bunch of tales, but some people worship the Norse Gods even today, and I would call it a small religion compared to its glorious days. Its a shame not many of the old religions of the Ancient World don’t exist because of history and time, and so many stories written then are lost to us. I would have wanted to see more narration of some tales, but that’s me.
There is so much sword-fighting I am astounded how well Taya kept her watch on it. There isn’t a moment you’ll want to skip. The sword fighting is top-notch. Alright. Top-Notch. That’s how good it is. So much snow I wonder if they’re living in the snow all the time, all the characters in this book.
Even though this is a fantasy world, I would have wanted Taya to do something different. Imagine if we had Medieval Knights. You might think Medieval knights and fantasy Vikings? Sure that works, or maybe not. But hear me out. By the time of the Christianization of Europe, Christian monks went out of their way to convert the Norse Peoples. Now imagine if they had failed. What would temples look like? What if the Norse people had established their own churches similar to the function of the Christian churches? What would medieval armor look like? I would have wanted to see a Medieval Viking knight with plate armor but with a new design etc. Much of the setting I got came from the 8th century of the Viking Period. I would have wanted to see more of this.
I’ve only finished book 1 and I cannot tell you how excited I am to go onto the others. This is a fantastic book, full of swordfights, snow, and lots of it. It’s great. 5/5.

UK USERS: FREE ON KU AND 0.99P!
UK Link for the first book in the series


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