Norse Code by Greg van Eekhout
While many world mythologies have been plumbed for story material, comparatively few have tackled Norse myths. It may be because the myths are lesser-known, and thus thought to be less effective. Nonetheless, Norse Code explores possibly the best-known Norse tale: that of Ragnarok.
Kathy Castillo never thought she had the makings of a legendary warrior. But when she and her sister are murdered, she finds herself in a new life as a Valkyrie, searching the world for warriors to serve Odin at the world-ending Ragnarok. But Kathy — now called Mist — has another goal in mind: She wants to retrieve her sister from Hel’s domain.
Hermod, despised and forgotten among the Norse deities, has wandered alone for eons beyond counting. But even he can see the signs: The world is soon to end. When he accidentally releases the wolves that will eat the sun and moon, he tries to stop them. But can anyone halt the march of the approaching prophecy, despite all such efforts?
Having some knowledge of Norse mythology, I found it nice to see not only the stories, but many of the more obscure details. Ragnarok is supposed to be the grandest and most epic of battles, and van Eekhout certainly delivers the goods. The author’s descriptive powers are spot-on, painting such landscapes as Hel and a ravaged Earth quite vividly.
The problem with this book is that too much happens. The Norse myths were epic in and of themselves, and shoving so many of them into fewer than 300 pages often feels like the tale is running out of control. On top of that, the title’s Norse Code Genome Project — a front for the Valkyrie recruiters, which identifies descendants of the Norse codes by their genes — is just a blip on the radar, despite being something that would have been fascinating to explore.
This story might have done better as a trilogy, since it uses so much source material.
Norse Code has its good and bad points, but the balance tips to the positive when acknowledging the author’s ingenuity in weaving together these ancient myths.
This review appeared in the Davis Enterprise on August 21, 2009.