As Ragnarok looms, the trickster Loki breaks free from his chains.
In the battle to come, all shall die, but Ragnar will do anything to save his gods.
Einer scours the nine worlds for Hilda, who walks among gods and goddesses, searching the truth of the Runes.
For centuries Siv has run from her past, but she knows that to protect her daughter, and Midgard, she will have to face her worst fears.
It is time to confront the Alfather.
Shackled Fates is the second book in the Hanged God Trilogy and the sequel to Northern Wrath. I reviewed Book 1 from this series, Northern Wrath here. It is a Norse fantasy written from the point of view of multiple characters. The action starts almost immediately after the end of Northern Wrath and I have to say, I wish there had been a ‘Story so far’ section, since a lot happened in Book 1 and it’s been nearly a year since I read it. I had trouble remembering everything! I loved Northern Wrath and was concerned that Shackled Fates might not live up to it, since sequels can often be weaker than the first book in a series, but I needn’t have worried. Shackled Fates is fantastic! It is equally as full of Norse lore and legend as Northern Wrath, displaying Thilde Kold Holdt’s wealth of knowledge and research. There is also plenty of action and a wonderful depth of characterisation. I really felt for the main characters during their many trials and was rooting for them.
All of the main characters from Book 1 continue into Shackled Fates, even the dead ones, and we gradually see how their Fates are shackled together in the afterlife, tied up in the important events which eventually lead to Ragnarok. Shackled Fates is written from the perspective of multiple characters, even Odin’s ravens Hugin and Munin get a chapter from their perspective and there is also a plural perspective from the forefathers of the giants.
There are more gods and giants in this instalment of the trilogy, with not only the more famous Aesir and Vanir of Norse legend, but we also meet Ran and her daughters from the depths of the ocean:
“From the shadows of the gate that the nine sisters guarded came a woman larger than her nine daughters, with long black seaweed as hair. It trailed behind her, dragged on the sand, and disappeared into it. Unlike her daughters, she wore clothes; a dress of green seaweed sewn together at the bust. At the waist it parted into long slips of straight seaweed that showed the tops of her firm thighs.”
There were many instances of certain characters being in the same world as the person they were desperately searching for but not finding them – which was highly frustrating and helped to increase the dramatic tension as everything moved onwards towards the inevitable. Some of the characters we had got to know in Northern Wrath turn out to be a lot more than at first meets the eye with surprise after surprise. Siv, Hilda and Tyra are far from being just a chief’s wife, a shieldmaiden and a simple girl from Ash-Hill. Their fates have many twists and turns and lots of unexpected surprises which I will not give away here! Ragnar, the former skald of Ash-Hill’s true identity was perhaps for me the most shocking:
“Ragnar could free them all; everyone imprisoned by invisible bonds sealed in blood. Only he could free them, and if their mother had been wrong, and he had even one drop of blood-given talent, he would.”
Thilde’s wonderfully descriptive prose also brings to life items from the Norse myths such as Freya’s falcon cloak, the threads of Fate woven by the three Nornir and of course Thor’s hammer, Mjolnir. She describes the worlds of Asgard, Midgard, Niflheim, Svartleheim, Muspelheim and Jotunheim really well, making them each very distinct from one another, and also the Ginnungagap, referred to as The Darkness:
“A place of nothing and a place that was nowhere.”
Tyra’s visit to Ginnungagap while inside the ash tree at Ash-Hill in Northern Wrath can be smelt upon her by the Jotun giants and the Aesir and Siv urges her to trade her clothing with the aesir so that they will not notice her and pursue her. Siv always looks out for her loved ones to the detriment of her own safety. She was one of my favourite characters, along with Hilda.
I think it is fair to say that I loved Shackled Fates just as much as Northern Wrath – if not more! The ending is heart-rending, but the journey towards the end is so intriguing. The book will hook you in right from the beginning. I cannot wait for the final book in the trilogy, Slaughtered Gods.
About the Author
I am a writer of fantasy novels. My first series, the Hanged God Trilogy, centres around Vikings and the Old Norse gods. I’m represented by Jamie Cowen at the Ampersand Agency.
I am a novelist by profession, currently working an epic fantasy series about 7th century Korea. My epic fantasy trilogy about Vikings, the Hanged God, is currently being published. I have lived enough different places that the most difficult question to answer is: “where are you from?” I am, quite simply, from the planet Earth, for I have yet to set foot on Mars. Someday, though…