A Gathering of Ravens (Grimnir Series Book 1) by Scott Oden – Audiobook Review for #Norsevember

A Novel (The Grimnir Series, Book 1)

By: Scott Oden

Narrated by: Paul Woodson

Series: The Grimnir Series, Book 1

Length: 12 hrs and 44 mins

Release date: 02-18-20

To the Danes, he is skraelingr; to the English, he is orcnéas; to the Irish, he is fomoraig. He is Corpse-maker and Life-quencher, the Bringer of Night, the Son of the Wolf and Brother of the Serpent. He is Grimnir, and he is the last of his kind—the last in a long line of monsters who have plagued humanity since the Elder Days.

Drawn from his lair by a thirst for vengeance against the Dane who slew his brother, Grimnir emerges into a world that’s changed. A new faith has arisen. The Old Ways are dying, and their followers retreating into the shadows; even still, Grimnir’s vengeance cannot be denied.

Taking a young Christian hostage to be his guide, Grimnir embarks on a journey that takes him from the hinterlands of Denmark, where the wisdom of the ancient dwarves has given way to madness, to the war-torn heart of southern England, where the spirits of the land make violence on one another. And thence to the green shores of Ireland and the Viking stronghold of Dubhlinn, where his enemy awaits.

But, unless Grimnir can set aside his hatreds, his dream of retribution will come to nothing. For Dubhlinn is set to be the site of a reckoning—the Old Ways versus the New—and Grimnir, the last of his kind left to plague mankind, must choose: stand with the Christian King of Ireland and see his vengeance done or stand against him and see it slip away?

Scott Oden’s A Gathering of Ravens is a novel of vengeance, faith, and the power of myth.

Amazon | goodreads | Audible

My Review

A Gathering of Ravens: A Novel (Grimnir Series Book 1) by [Scott Oden]

I listened to the audiobook version of this book, read by Paul Woodson. Because of this I may have spelled names or locations incorrectly.

Paul Woodson’s narration of this title was excellent. His accents were spot on and he was able to convey the relevant amount of drama and tension where it was needed. Étain sounded feminine and Grimnir the orc’s voice was harsh and grating.

The story is an unrelentingly grim and dark Norse fantasy revolving around the journey of Grimnir, the last orc, as foul and mean-spirited as they come, and Étain an Anglo-Saxon Christian woman pretending to be a monk. The two meet by chance when Étain and her companion and protector, the Dane, Njall seek refuge for the night in a cave in Denmark, which is occupied by Grimnir. Full of Norse, Anglo-Saxon and Celtic mythological elements woven together with a wealth of historic detail, the story follows the two unlikely companions after Grimnir beats Njall senseless. Étain is now Grimnir’s hostage and promises to act as guide for Grimnir in England as they journey from Denmark, via Yggdrasil the world tree to England and then on to Ireland. The fearsome orc, Grimnir searches for his vile relative, Bjarki Half-Dane, determined to avenge the death of his brother, which happened centuries ago.

Hear me, spirits of this wretched pace!” Grimnir roared. “I have lived a thousand mortal lifetimes! I am the Corpse-maker and Life-quencher, the Bringer of Night, the Song of the Wolf and Brother of the Serpent! I am all that remain of the kaunar of the Kjolen Mountains! Taste of my blood so that you will know the truth of what I say!

The author’s incredibly vivid prose depicts the medieval locations expertly and Woodson’s narration brings them to life:

Badon was an ancient city and its stones reeked of blood. Étaín could smell it: a metallic stench like wet copper mixed with a miasma of damp rot and sulfur—a distillate of the decay and violence that diverse hands had worked into the foundations of the city.

The city’s walls were as ragged as a crone’s smile.

The character work is equally fantastic. Grimnir the orc is deliciously multilayered, with a sense of duty and heroism that the reader gradually uncovers. It is hard not to like Étain struggling for survival through a violent man’s world. These characters will draw you in to this tale and keep their hooks in you right until the end.

A Gathering of Ravens takes place in a stark and bloody world of old religion versus new as the Anglo-Saxon Christians are pitted against heathen Danish raiders. It is a world of tragedy and hope, love and loss, torture and bloody violence – this brutal book is definitely not for the lily-livered.

Oden’s A Gathering of Ravens is an epicly proportioned tale of adventure which will appeal to historical fantasy fans who like a grimdark tone to their stories. It works well as a standalone despite the fact that another book, Twilight of the Gods, has been written in this series, also about Grimnir the last orc. I understand there are to be three books in this series in total, but that they will each work as standalones.

About the Author

SCOTT ODEN was born in Indiana, but has spent most of his life shuffling between his home in rural North Alabama, a Hobbit hole in Middle-earth, and some sketchy tavern in the Hyborian Age. He is an avid reader of fantasy and ancient history, a collector of swords, and a player of tabletop role-playing games. His previous books include Men of Bronze, Memnon, and The Lion of Cairo. When not writing, he can be found walking his two dogs or doting over his lovely wife, Shannon.

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