Fight porn. Fight porn with Norse mythology sprinkled within is what this 585 page book ultimately contains.
This is one of those novels that has moments of brilliance but that I find emotionally unsatisfying at the end of the day. The problem stems from the hero (and I use the term loosely) who is unlikeable, uncouth, uneducated, and unrealistic. He is someone I can never relate to. He isnt honorable, a thinker, or self-aware. He is purely a fighter whose violence has devastated his life and those closest to him. And most of this really long book is him reminiscing about fighting, watching a fight, or engaged in fighting. It gets a little old. Plus his tactics are cold, brutal, and without sympathy or capacity to with stain from crossing lines and taboos. I find him repugnant. And I have a hard time believing that he would be able to hold his own against GODS! I mean, if he were better educated, charismatic, and a tactical genius and maverick cut from the same cloth as a hero like Captain Kirk, then Id have less of a problem with how every Norse god in this novel seems unable to pull off simple campaigns without him. But mostly I bristle at the notion that the Gods of Wisdom, War, Thunder, and Mischief, cant seem to outwit a man who frequently talks about flatulence and can barely survive in the real world. I also doubt theyd put up with all the lip he gives them. This is not a man who could realistically hold his own against ancient gods and this ultimately ruins the story for me.
As a said prior, there are moments of brilliance in this novel that can be attributed to a well-turned phrase, great one-liners, and some interesting side-characters that include a Palanesque President of the United States and a truly crafty villain. The villain was intriguing the more I got to know him. Frankly I found myself rooting for him, even if his triumph brought about Ragnarok, or the end of the world, simply because I found the Norse gods so inept at times. At least the villain was thinking for himself and executed himself more intelligently. In fact with both the hero and villain acting like glorified bullies, my favor tipped toward the character who was most interesting and intelligentie the villain.
I know enough of Norse mythology to expect how certain scenarios would play out. I was, happily, wrong. I knew who would be the villain of the piece because it comes straight from mythology, but nothing is as it seems and I find that oddly appealing. Most of the respect I have for this novel comes from how Lovegrove unveils the machinations of the villain. Too bad he couldnt have won the war. I really despised the hero of this piece.
At the risk of sounding slightly sexist, Ill say that this is a novel that would be more relatable to men than women. The humor, the conversation between soldiers, the constant fighting, and the lack of empathetic or well-drawn characterization seem to be staples of mediocre adventure books.