“Is this Ragnarok, or just California?”

Posted: October 29, 2013 by writingsprint in My two cents
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Norse CodeNorse Code” by Greg van Eekhout is a story about the end of the world, told in a way you’ve never read before. That is, unless you’ve read a story about the end of the world that puts Norse myth in a modern setting, dots it with moments of bone-chilling horror, weaves it with threads of humor like a conversation with Quentin Tarantino, and gives it to you wrapped up in a ticking time bomb of with a bow on it signed, “From Michael Bay, with love.”

I liked the book.

Kathy Castillo is Mist, an MBA student killed for having the blood of Odinn in her ancestry. She arises as a Valkyrie and becomes pressed into service for the Norse gods in their search for the more recruits to Odinn’s army. Mist decides that she can’t live with what she’s doing anymore at possibly the worst time imaginable. Ragnarok has come, and the warriors are needed. While Mist follows her own quest, Hermod, a Norse god, takes action to try to stop Ragnarok from taking place. In their way stand a pantheon of gods and prophecy that cannot be unwritten.

Norse Code is my favorite kind of novel: reality, twisted. Mist and Hermod feel like people you know, who are caught up in events so far beyond their reckoning that even taking action seems absurd. That feeling of “I don’t care, I’m going in anyway” is what made me cheer for them. People do it every day. We head into the storm because that’s what we do. The action unfolds like a darkening storm, growing worse, until the universe is literally coming apart at the seams. More than once, I asked, “How the hell are they getting out of this one?”

Mist is a spunky, badass warrior, but would rather be someplace else, living her own life. She’s a warrior with a conscience, someone who’s only been dead a few years and hasn’t been changed by it yet. Hermod is perpetually in the wrong place at the wrong time. It’s his lot in life, and it seems that as long as he can irritate the people who are making things wrong, he accepts it. He strikes me as someone who would rather be doing something futile for the right reasons than doing nothing at all. For me, Ragnarok itself is the villain; a wide cast of unsavory characters from Norse myth stand against Mist and Hermod, but I saw them all as pieces of a larger puzzle called destruction. There are a few key villains, but by the end of the book there is plenty of blame to go around.

Norse Code isn’t a serious book, unless you take your fun seriously. Then you should read it with the book in one hand, a beer in the other, and an axe across your lap. Wearing a Viking helmet. Failing the helmet or the axe, at least get the beer.

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