Norse Code by Greg van Eekhout

Norse Code - Greg Van Eekhout

I actually read this months ago, but life got all up in my business, and I didn't review it. So I'm going to do so now, because I really liked it.


+: Standalone (omg I am tired of cliffhangers. And I like ongoing well enough where each book tells one tale and is done, but nobody seems to write those anymore much.)

+: Light on the romance. There is one, sort of, but it's not the driving force.

+: Omnipotent godlike powers, that... well they aren't always that helpful. Or let me say, neither main protagonist is a Mary Sue, despite being well armed. There's no tension for me, when the heroes are just getting powerup after powerup, or they start out so damn awesome there's no way they could lose.

-/+: Cover is a bit misleading, it looks like any number of PNR centered on a female heroine kicking butt and taking names. And while our heroine does in fact do a fair bit of both, it's not a PNR, and she isn't in fact the major character - she's one of two major characters, and the male protagonist just as badass and possibly more fun, since he actually knows what's going on and she's a bit lost for a while, although she makes the best of it.


-: Standalone (there's definitely room for a sequel, or more in this setting, although this story is most definitely done and told. And I would read the hell out of that sequel.)

-: It's a little confusing and I suspect you need to already be pretty familiar with Nordic myth, or at least the prophecies surrounding Ragnarök, or you'll miss quite a lot.

+: Even if you aren't actually familiar with the myths and prophecies, it's a rollicking ride, it'll just be full of really out of left-field events and impossible to pronounce names.


So essentially this is a modern urban fantasy set in current day(ish) California, using the characters and background of the Norse pantheon. And it didn't offend the hell out of me. Yay!


That might seem like damning with faint praise, but it's actually not, it's pretty darn big praise.


I'm a pretty critical reader of people taking mythologies I'm familiar with. Which amounts to two of them, but this is one. Bearing in mind I live in Viking central (my kids junior high had a runestone on the grounds, we are about 20 minutes from Birka by boat or over ice in winter (not the one with the dragons, sadly, but the actual viking capital) and so it permeates everything around here. My kids were absolutely steeped in viking culture and naturally the mythology, and so that kind of meant I was too. The swedes take preserving their cultural heritage pretty seriously. while at the same time not believing a word of it. I kinda like that.


Weirdly, it doesn't bother me when it's done camp, like the Marvel versions of the Asgårdians running rampant, because they basically just stole the names of a few things and completely made up the rest with glee and abandon. But when an author takes a mythology and attempts to use it "seriously" but gets it wildly wrong, that's just annoying. Is this distinction rational? Possibly not, but it's there. van Eekhout managed to get through a whole book without even once pushing my "omg, that is so wrong" buttons.


That and it's a darn good story, with a really satisfying ending.