The Age of Odin by James Lovegrove
Gideon Coxall was a good solder but bad at everything else, until a roadside explosive device leaves him with one deaf ear and a British Army half-pension. So when he hears about the Valhalla Project , it’s like a dream come true. They are recruiting former service personnel for excellent pay, no questions asked, to take part in unspecified combat missions.
The last thing Gid expects is to find himself fighting alongside ancient Viking gods. The world is in the grip of the worst winter ever known, and Ragnarok – the fabled final conflict of the sagas – is looming.
I knew nothing about The Pantheon Trilogy before I stumbled across The Age of Zeus in my local bookshop. The cover boasted an angry looking Anthony Hopkins look-a-like and a group of tooled up military types, I was intrigued. When I learned the story detailed the return of the ancient gods of Greece in the modern era I was sold. Fortunately my gamble paid off and I was treated to a fantastic read. The Age of Ra, which is in fact the first in this trilogy, soon followed and once again I was not disappointed. I should point out here that though this is a trilogy, each novel is standalone in nature but thematically similar.
The Age of Odin by James Lovegrove is released a week today, on the 6th January 2011, and completes the trilogy. This novel charts the return of the ancient Norse gods and their preparations for Ragnarok – the final destiny of the gods.
All the familiar names from Norse mythology appear – Odin, Thor, Loki, Freya, Frigga, The Valkyries and Heimdall are all present in one form or another. There are also wolves, witches, frost giants, trolls and gnomes in the mix.
Like The Age of Ra, and the Age of Zeus before it, Lovegrove has taken the key elements from the appropriate mythology, in this instance Norse, and re-imagined it with a 21st century slant. For those familiar with Norse mythology this is a real treat. For example both the Midgard Serpent and Fenrir appear in the novel but not in quite the same manner as in the ancient tales.
The character of Gideon Coxall is just an average man who is initially drawn to the Valhalla Project with thoughts of cash but as the story develops he realises that war is his true calling. The novel is written from the first person perspective so the reader gets direct insight into Gid’s motivations. Gid has quite a bolshie attitude when dealing with others. It doesn’t matter of they are friend or foe he deals with them all in the same way. He has a smart mouth on him and that leads to some nice comedic moments, usually when his pop culture references fall flat in front of the gods.
As with the other novels in the trilogy there are some fantastic action sequences throughout the book. In particular the final battle for Valhalla was very well done and had an almost cinematic quality to it.
If I had any complaint it would be that I wish the book were longer. Though the novel was nearly six hundred pages long I felt there could have been a bit more. The final epilogue seemed to be a little bit rushed and I could have happily read a few additional chapters.
Overall this novel is wonderful winter reading. It certainly helped set the scene for me that it was snowing outside while I read it. Based on the weather at the moment I could easily believe the Fimbulwinter is upon us.
Thanks to Solaris Books for the opportunity to read.