I thought this was an odd book, with quite a few different elements which seemed jarring when all mixed together. This is a fantasy book set in relatively recent times on Earth. In this book, the following things are all portrayed as true: Christianity, witchcraft, and Norse mythology. Yep, these things are all merged together into one story. We have Norse gods, we have witches who can see the future, and we have angels and levitating Christians.
This story has a dystopian setting, but it didn’t feel at all believable to me. It felt like I’d gotten lost inside the head of the type of person who always jumps to the worst possible conclusion about everything. Throughout the book, there were constant references to extreme viewpoints held in this fictional society that had presumably come about as a result of some of real-life society’s more recent trends. But it seemed very over-the-top and alarmist to me. I was never quite certain if the author meant it to be funny or serious or prophetic or what. Within the fictional world, however, they were definitely serious.
One theme the author seemed particularly fond of taking to extremes was political correctness. Here are a couple of quotes from the book: “We will not rest until all vestiges of ableism are removed from the games, and Olympic medals have nothing whatever to do with strength, speed, agility or coordination.” and “…if a court determines that a victim showed insufficient vigilance and so enticed the criminal to take advantage of them, they would be liable to pay the convicted criminal damages…”.
I felt that the book was a bit preachy and heavy-handed with the Christian themes, although truthfully the characters in the story had a tendency to drift into monologues about a variety of topics, not just Christianity. However, I wasn’t very far into the book before I had to double check that this really was published by Baen. It didn’t feel at all like what I’ve come to expect from Baen. It felt like it was an indie, or perhaps published by a Christian publishing house.
When the characters had actual dialogue, I sometimes found them difficult to follow because the author had an odd tendency to break a few sentences out into two or more paragraphs. The proper quotation conventions were used, but I often missed the omitted quotation mark because I didn’t expect the author to start a new paragraph after only one sentence when the same character will still speaking. Combine that with the fact that the author rarely indicated who was speaking beyond the initial volley, and I frequently had to re-read some of the dialogue to verify who was saying what.
I suspect that some people might find this book uproariously funny, although I’m still confused about whether or not it was intended that way. For perspective, I also disliked The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy which I know is a much-beloved book for many people. Not that these two books have the slightest thing in common, but it might help explain what kind of humor I like. I love humor, but I like realistic humor. If it’s too ridiculous, it pulls me out of the story and I get bored by it. The story was somewhat interesting, in-between the things I didn’t like, but there was a lot that I disliked and the ending seemed trite to me.