Cover Art by Helena Rosova
Torin Ten-Trees and his closest companions, Bryn and Grimsa, set out to join The Gatewatch and become trollhunters. When a troupe of meddling dwarves throws them off course they are captured by trolls and taken as prisoners to a secret gathering deep underground. There they learn that an ancient giant has crowned himself king of the trolls and plans to utterly destroy The Gatewatch. Their perilous journey back to the land of sun and stars will stretch their strength to the limit, strain their wits, and demand an unspeakable sacrifice. But will it be enough to defeat the Troll King?
The Gatewatch is an epic troll-hunting adventure inspired by the Norse Myths and the Icelandic Sagas.
I read a paperback copy of the book, very kindly sent to me by the author, in return for an honest review. Thank you, Joshua!
I thoroughly enjoyed this debut novel by Canadian author Joshua Gillingham.
Torin Ten-Trees and his band of loyal companions are a warm-hearted, likeable bunch of brave, stout-hearted heroes. Their adventures are fun to read and full of exciting fights with trolls, skrimsli (goblins) and encounters with nidavel (dwarves) which take then down into the tunnels beneath the mountains.
Grimsa shook his head and his eyes bulged. “You nidavel and your damn tunnels! It’s a wonder that this entire mountain doesn’t fall down on our heads with all the little wormholes you’ve wheedled into it.”From The Gatewatch by Joshua Gillingham
After being coerced by the fierce shieldmaiden Wyla into an ill-considered evening trip up the mountain to bathe in a hot spring, Torin and his compatriots find themselves stranded and then captured by trolls.
A rhyme battle takes place in the troll cave between Torin and the Jotur (frost giant) king of the trolls in order for Torin to secure the release of his captured companions. This episode was highly amusing and all the more impressive with the knowledge that the author wrote all of the riddles himself.
Upon the wind a shadow quickFrom The Gatewatch by Joshua Gillingham
Ancient memory, lightning wit
Mocking calls to king and thrall
Hoarding shining trinkets small
This type of riddle contest would appear to be a cultural forerunner to the present day practice of comedians roasting one another, or to modern day rap battles. It was very intelligently written and so much fun and was probably my favourite part of the book. The riddle contest immediately brought to mind the similar contest, written by Tolkien, between Gollum and the Hobbit, Bilbo Baggins. There were other nods to the Hobbit – a difficult journey undertaken by a fellowship of characters who did not all know each other initially, but who became loyal companions; trolls who turn to stone in sunlight; dwarves living under the mountain, eager to protect their treasures. This meant that the story had a similar feel to it and should appeal to fans of Tolkien’s work and worlds, while being a less challenging, more easily accessible read.
I did find the beginning somewhat slow, but after a couple of chapters the pace picked up and it became hard for me to put this novel down. I eagerly await the sequel, The Everspring, due out in April 2021, a sneak peek of which is included at the end of the book, along with some suggested book club questions and challenges, and an Appendix containing the full version of The Lay of Beoric.
I think The Gatewatch would appeal to most fans of either YA or adult fantasy who like stories featuring mythological creatures, fierce loyalty among a band of brothers – brave heroes striving to overcome adversity together.
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About The Author
Joshua is the author of The Saga of Torin Ten-Trees, an epic troll-hunting fantasy series inspired by the Norse Myths and the Icelandic Sagas. Book 1: The Gatewatch, was released in May 2020 (Crowsnest Books) and currently sits in the #1 spot on the Young Adult Viking List on Goodreads. Book 2: The Everspring is slated for release in April 2021 and Joshua is currently tapping away at the keyboard to complete Book 3: The Elder Trees.
In addition to this trilogy, Joshua co-authored “Old Norse For Modern Times”, a Viking language phrasebook, with fellow Canadian author Ian Stuart Sharpe and Dr. Arngrimur Vidalin from the University of Iceland. He is also co-editing an anthology of historical fiction exploring the intersections between Viking and Arab culture based on his card game ‘Althingi’ alongside Muhammad Aurangzeb Ahmad (A Mosque Among the Stars) in partnership with Outland Entertainment. The anthology will be launched in Summer 2021.
Find Joshua Gillingham on Twitter @JoshMGillingham and on the internet at www.joshuagillingham.ca