I think the first novel in Oden’s historical fantasy series A Gathering of Ravens is seriously underrated in that I don’t see it constantly brought up and recommended every time someone talks violent, mature fantasy. The character Grimnir is no less a contribution to the genre than the Bloody Nine or Gavin Guile in my estimation.
And in this sequel we get more of the cunning monster of the old world, Grimnir and that’s really something that I desperately needed. Grimnir of course keeps his own council and is capable of the most cold blooded or selfless acts with his kaunar rationale of “Because I can!”
This book surprised me though in that while Grimnir’s presence looms large, it’s daughter of the Raven, Disa who takes center stage for the heart of this tale. It’s her search for identity and her place in the world that makes for a dynamic story. And with feuding mythical creatures, clan politics, bloody battles, and ancient prophecies, it is young Disa’s POV that anchors us to all these various events and makes it personal when it counts.
I think what really keeps this book moving is that it has the same deft hand that the first one had in delivering the mythic and the human hand in hand. As someone who loves the fantasy genre it’s not that difficult for me to accept Scott’s world as “head canon” for our own because with all the old earth magic and centuries’ old feuds, there’s always that bit of dust in the gears called humanity. And even with the sheers of the Norns poised, ready to cut their lives short, there’s no account for what bravery or wickedness they might enact.
The book does place a certain amount of trust in the reader. There are, what I as a layman, might call Viking and Norse names for people, places, things, and creatures. And while this is integral to the story being told it does challenge the reader to keep these things straight which I kind of find fun personally. Though I did find myself pausing every now and then to connect all the dots from the various characters and their goals and stories. This isn’t a door stopper of a novel but there is a lot to digest here and there are several little arcs and stories folded within the main thrust of the book concerning Disa and Ragnarok.
But perhaps more significantly is seeing the death throes of the old world. This is historical FANTASY and it is not ashamed of it. We get magic weapons, whispering ghosts, earth splitting magic, an old troll woman, and prophecies that might very well rip the world asunder. The ending of this book was like something out of the new God of War. It’s really fantastic in the best way and I refuse to spoil it for you. *
I recommend Twilight of the Gods to anyone who likes dark fantasy and Norse mythology. And if you haven’t read its predecessor A Gathering of Ravens then you still have time before Twilight of the Gods drops on February 18th, 2020 from St. Martin’s Press.
*I received an advanced digital proof from the author that may not fully reflect the published copy for this review.