The main characters are all back and we see those that have died finding their places in Valhalla and Helheim, depending on whether they were warriors who proved their bravery during their short lives.
We follow the lives of a small group of people who started out in the town of Ash-Hill, which was burned in a raid in book 1 of the series. They are still our principle characters, especially warrior and half-giant Einer, Norn prophet Hilda, Finn, who is now an elderly thrall, and Ragnar the skald who shares his name with the famous final battle where the gods will die. The gods are secondary characters in this conclusion to the saga as we hurtle towards Ragnarok - but they are still very much present. Loki persuades Einer to fight for him at Ragnarok and Hilda feels duty bound to fight for her god, Odin.
“Loki knew how to terrify. Everything was carefully plotted. Every single action he had taken had been planned so precisely that Einer felt a glimmer of hope that he, too, would be successful in his task. Because Loki had chosen him for it.”
We also have fire demons, Jotun giants and Loki’s monstrous children, Hel, Fenrir and the Midgard Worm taking centre stage as Ragnarok approaches.
“Water splashed onto the deck. The ship rocked and Einer lost his footing, falling backwards onto deck. Summoned out of the waters came the Midgard Worm in all its glory. Teeth glistened in the light of Loki’s fires. Its green skin was sleek, and water dripped down the length of it. The ship rocked. Sailors squealed and yelled and clung on for life. The Midgard Worm screeched.”
Hilda has been a favourite character throughout this series - she just never gives up, despite losing her sight, her destiny and the ability to be recognized by anyone who has ever known her. She is the epitome of a fierce shieldmaiden who longs for recognition from her god and to be given a place at his table in Valhalla. More depth of character is added to her via her Norn blood and new ability to weave fates.
The final battle, when it arrives, is epic to say the least, very exciting, and lasts a good while, almost a quarter the length of the book, but the way the narrative switches between each of the main characters during the battle keeps the excitement levels high and the bloodthirstiness of the battle will be popular with many dark fantasy fans.
There is an almost dreamlike quality to Kold Holdt’s writing as she retells the famous myths with her own fresh interpretation - which I love and which really adds dimension to the folkloric, mythical feel of the overall story she is weaving, I cannot recommend this series more highly.
Thank you to NetGalley and Rebellion Publishing for granting me an arc copy of this book in return for an honest review.