Book Reviews

Review: The Ragnarok Saga – The Rusted Crown by W. H. H. Baker

the-ragnarok-saga

I was kindly sent a free paperback copy of this book by the publisher Austin Macauley for a review.  The Ragnarok Saga: The Rusted Crown is an epic fantasy novel based around Norse mythology, here is my review.

When the Norse world comes to an end, one Valkyrie, Skjarla, is cursed to survive.  With the world remade by the Dark goddess Hel, Skjarla is alone.  Immortal and set to wander the world for centuries she finally arrives in the small northern town of Lonely Barrow, a town about to be invaded by monsters.

‘The Rusted Crown’ is the first book in ‘The Ragnarok Saga’ and is such a good book I was engrossed for many days reading it.  At a little under 400 pages this book really is an epic story and was easy to get into.  The story starts off in the old Norse world of Asgard, when all the gods are still alive and Ragnarok, the battle which ends the Norse world, hasn’t happened yet.  The story gives us a brief glimpse into the life of the gods before the world is remade and chapter two begins in the town of Lonely Barrow, hundreds of years later.

I love reading fantasy books but it’s been a long time since I read such a long book with such detail.  The whole Norse world and Midgard afterwards was so easy to imagine and get into with descriptions that just brought alive all the senses.  I’m surprised as very often books with longer and more detailed descriptions put me off, feeling like they detract from the action but this book didn’t do that.  I could imagine the world so well including the, often disgusting, smells.

The book is told entirely from the third person view point and mainly follows Skjarla though scenes do change to others without any confusion.  The basic story, without giving too much away, is that Skjarla becomes contracted to look after the people of Lonely Barrow who then take an arduous trek across Midgard to escape something horrible that is chasing them.  The story spans months and even years and along the way you meet many different characters, from Skjarla the Valkyrie to the humans, elves and dwarves that populate Midgard.  Despite meeting many different characters and visiting many different locations during their travels, with plenty of things happening in the different places, I was never lost or confused.  In fact it just felt like an epic tale I could easily see turned into a film or series on the screen.

The fight scenes in this book were so well written I feel I have to mention them separately.  I’ll admit, I often get lost when reading a book with fighting in it.  The fight scenes are often described well but at some point I glaze over the words and lose exactly who did what.  I get the gist of a fight but imagining every single move is often hard with many of the books I’ve read and I’m not sure why.  This book amazed me alone for the fact I could follow every fight scene perfectly.  I could see each scene in my head like in a movie and it’s why I love this book so much as I could really get into the action.

So much happens in this story that it’s hard not to talk about it without giving it away, but all I can say is that I was so engrossed and I loved it.  The ending of the book is both satisfying and not.  There’s a great sort of conclusion to part of the story which is satisfying, and I especially loved what happens to Skjarla near the end.  At the same time though there are many unanswered questions and it leaves you wanting to read the second book, which I hope will be published soon.

The book has violence in it, there are descriptions of fights and some gore but it fits very well with the story.  There’s also a small amount of sex described in some scenes though there’s nothing overly graphic.  The f and s swear words are used a few times but very occasionally.  Most of the time the characters are referred to as swearing but a chapter here and there has swearing spoken and though I don’t mind it occasionally in books, it felt weird as most chapters refer to swearing, with no actual swear words used, and then there are occasional chapters where the characters are saying the f word over and over, making it feel like it was added for effect rather than a consistent story.

Though the swearing felt a little oddly placed and a few too many chapters had small typo errors in it, the story was so strong that I would still give this a 4.5 stars as I really enjoyed reading it.   Definitely a book I recommend to anyone who enjoys an epic fantasy based around Norse mythology.  I can’t wait for book two to continue the saga!

Rating: 4.5/5

Review published on Goodreads, click here

Book Description:

Ragnarok. The Norse world is ending. The Valkyrie, Skjarla, is cursed to survive the remaking of the world by the Dark goddess Hel. For centuries Skjarla wanders Midgard: monster slayer and mercenary, buried in grief and rage.

Four hundred years later, Skjarla finds herself in the small town of Lonely Barrow. There, hidden in the northern forests at the edge of the Haemocracy, she takes on a contract which proves more complicated than she could possibly have imagined.

Joined by the exiled heir to the New Roman Empire, a crusading Loptalfar and mercenaries running from their pasts. The Ragnarok Saga is a captivating journey which will test the very limits of love, endurance and courage.

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