Originally read February 16, 2014
I wasn’t sure what to expect from this fantasy book. Neither the cover nor the blurb I had read about the book seemed that appealing to me. However, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. The story was set in recent times, I believe near the end of the 20th century, in our current world. In this book, Norse mythology was real and the main character had a bone to pick with the god Odin.
I actually didn’t know the first thing about Norse mythology. However, this wasn’t a hindrance to my ability to understand and enjoy the book. I did read it on my Kindle PaperWhite, so I was able to tap the names of some of the gods and quickly get Wikipedia entries for them. I don’t think that information was necessary for understanding the book, but it did enhance my enjoyment.
The book was fast-paced and fun. There was a lot of action, and the action was well-written. Sometimes when I read action sequences in a book, I find them confusing because the author doesn’t clearly express exactly what’s happening in a way that I can follow. On the other hand, sometimes action sequences can be described in such excruciating detail that the urgency is lost and I’m altogether bored by them. The author of this book struck a very nice middle ground between those two extremes. I enjoyed the action sequences and had no problem visualizing them in my mind.
The entire book is written in the first-person view from the perspective of the main character, Randy. In the beginning, the story switches back and forth between two time periods: the present, and a time slightly in the past where we learn what led Randy to his present endeavor. At that point in the book, I found the story from the past to be the more engaging one. Eventually, maybe a fourth of the way through the book, the events in the past caught up to the present and the rest of the book remained in the same time period. By that point, the present story had started to get a lot more interesting.
Randy is mouthy and sarcastic, although you don’t fully see that until you’ve gotten a little ways into the book. His reactions, and the things he said, added some humor to the book which I enjoyed. But there were several things that strained the credibility of the story. When Randy was outmatched physically, apparently he could talk his way out of just about anything. Not only did his bravado sometimes seem over-the-top, but it seemed unrealistic to me how often the other characters were either won over by that bravado or “put in their place” by it. It also seemed like a great many times he managed to survive a hairy situation through the power of dumb luck. My final nitpick is related to the female characters. It seemed like every female goddess in the book admired Randy and/or wanted to seduce him. I’m not normally one to complain just because every female character in a book isn’t strong and independent, but the actions from all of the female characters got a little silly and I found it particularly surprising from a female author. However, in retrospect, since the book was written from the first-person perspective, maybe the author just intended that to be Randy’s perceptions of the female characters’ actions, and the idea was that Randy thought the females were all trying to seduce him! He did seem to have a bit of an ego.
The ending was fleshed out and detailed, and it didn’t stop shortly after the climax like so many stories do. I felt satisfied by the way everything was wrapped up. A new dilemma to be solved was raised by the end of the book, implying that maybe the book was originally intended to have a sequel, but that slightly open ending didn’t really bother me because all of the story points that I had been invested in had been wrapped up. The ending left me with the sense that Randy’s adventures had only just begun without leaving me frustrated by a major cliff hanger.
Despite the things that made the story seem less believable, it was still a very fun story and I’m glad I decided to give it a try.