Sunday, 11 March 2012

Review: Snorr's Saga - Timothy Brommer

Review: Snorr’s Saga by Timothy Brommer
Published 2011
Ebook, 106 000 words
Norse Myth/ Viking Saga
Review by Anachronist

Synopsis:

Snorr Haemarsson, a skald,  and Krym Freidleifsdottur, a spaekona (so a fortuneteller) has known and loved each other for ages. Unfortunately they are singled out to become pawns in the power play between Thor, Odin and Loki so their love is going to be severely tested.

Snorr kills Krym’s twin brother Hrut. Although Krym suspects Hrut, not the brightest or the nicest tool in the garden shed, should be blamed for the whole incident a family blood feud is started. For Krym it is a chance to prove her worth to her own clan - so far her father has been very disappointed with her meager abilities. He pronounced her good only for childbearing, a horrible insult for such an ambitious girl. She is gifted – she can channel frodleikur (a kind of magical superpower) but so far even her fortune telling was rather unimpressive. Now, with the help of Loki’s daughter, Hel, she becomes a volva (a far more potent sorceress) and creates a set of unique living runes.

Krym decides to avenge herself on her beloved and gain the recognition among her kinsfolk. She’s got the best chance after all – she can lure Snorr into a trap pretending she wants to date him. Snorr meets her in the forest and is sweet-talked into entering and robbing the fresh grave of Hrut, allegedly to retrieve her father’s belt with a golden buckle which would serve as Krym’s dowry. Unfortunately he doesn’t know that Krym has prepared her brother’s body beforehand, cutting the bonds on his feet and making Hrut ready to raise as a draugr – something between a vampire and a zombie. Snorr wakes the draugr stealing the belt and initiates a disastrous chain of events which will lead him and Krym to Asgard and Nilfheim – two of Nine Worlds inhabited by Norse gods and goddesses.

What I liked:

It was a fast-paced story with an intricate plot based on Norse religion, a bit long but very readable. It is obvious the author has made a lot of research because everything sounded plausible, especially the scenes in which he is recreating the habits, culture and ordinary life of the Vikings (at least in my humble opinion and I am hardly a scholar). The fantasy world building was fun to discover although I must warn you, the book is a bit bloody and violent. Well, those were rather ruthless times. As Snorr is hell-bent on becoming a hero, he must make some sacrifices even though Thor himself wants him to succeed. Also Krym has to pay for her gift, sometimes not even being aware of the price.

What I didn’t like:

I admit it took me some time to understand all those Norse terms like ‘frodleikur’ or ‘spaekona’ but it didn’t prevent me from enjoying the narration. I also regretted the fact that there was so little action from Loki, my all-time favourite Norse deity and not many lighter, humorous scenes.

My only one serious complaint concerns the character of Krym. She is one mean, spiteful, cold woman, especially after she became a volva. She craves power - I was really sick and tired with her endless plotting how to get Snorr  and everybody else around her doing what she wanted them to do. I simply gagged when she told her future husband how she wanted to conceive a Valkyrie– it was as if she planned a highly effective in vitro pregnancy procedure,  thinking just about material gains. He said ‘no’, finding it unmanly, but did it stop our lovely Krym? Absolutely not. She was still thinking selfishly only about herself, her own glory, needs and plans. There is even a scene in which she rapes her betrothed to get pregnant on her own terms (I must grant the author – a very original premise but still revolting, a rape is a rape). True, Krym helps Snorr as they need each other badly to defeat that monster but let’s not forget the fact that she was more responsible for releasing that draugr than him – she led Snorr to his grave with premeditation. I felt hardly any chemistry between them and the ending left me wondering whether Snorr did the right thing, protecting and taking care of Krym during their ordeal. I would let her die – quite accidentally of course.

Final verdict

If you enjoy darker fantasy and like Norse mythology this novel might be right up your street. I don’t regret reading it despite my reservations concerning the female lead because it was an original book.



18 comments:

  1. Wonderful review. This is not something I'd usually read, but it does sound very involved.

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  2. Vikings are a hit or miss with me......but this sounds original and that it may be a good read. The cover however is horrible!

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  3. I like northern mythologies better than Greek and Roman ones, too (one of my nearly-finished WsIP uses Celtic mythology), but a couple of those words seriously looked like they came right off the word verifications!
    Still, it sounds like an interesting tale.

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  4. This looks heavy on the Norse mythology, which I haven't encountered in my reading. I should branch out...

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  5. My mind is stumbling over all those strange names and words, I really would not enjoy reading this one. I do like some Norse Mythology, like the Kevin Hearne books.

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  6. I've read books before where the names were really hard for me and I am telling you it was a serious stumbling block for me so I don't know if this is the right book for me.

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  7. Great review, although it's not something I would normally read.

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  8. I do love norse mythologies, but if the heroine made you gag, then I don't think I'd be able to finish the book-you are much more patient then I am!

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  9. Great review! I have a huge interest in Norse Mythology and I'm always looking for another good read :)
    -Kimberly @ Turning The Pages

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  10. This sounds interesting..great review

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  11. Thanks for all your comments - I always appreciate them very much!

    About the book: the author would really do his readers a favour if he included a short dictionary, explaining this and that; he listed Norse months and moon phases at the beginning so I suppose it wouldn't be such a big problem.

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  12. The book sounds really good but I don't like books with rape scenes, I know in some cases "it work" with the plot but is not my cup of tea. So I'm not so sure about adding this book to my TBR.

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  13. I would love to provide your blog followers with a brief glossary of terms:

    frodleikur - magic in Icelandic
    spaekona - fortuneteller in Old Norse
    volva - essentially sorceress/witch in Old Norse
    Dvergar - dwarf in Old Norse
    Jotnar - giant in Old Norse
    Reykureyja - smoke island in Icelandic

    I used these terms to flavor the novel, because I didn't want to use generic terms like "magic" "giant" etc.

    Ana hit the nail on the head regarding Krym. Krym is Loki's avatar in Midgard, total chaos.

    Thanks for the review and the time spent doing it. It seems I at least kept you entertained.

    Tim Brommer

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    1. At first I did not see it when Ana told me about spaekona, but then I looked at the word and it was so obvious what it means :) (since I am Swedish speaking ;)

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  14. Never read any or heard of any of the Norse myths. Thanks for reviewing! Sounds very interesting. :D

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  15. Hmmm, I don't think I've seen it around, but then again its not a new release. :) Sounds like an interesting read I might try one day. :) Thanks!

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  16. Thanks for stopping by everyone :)

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