RATING: 3 Stars
QUEER REP: Pansexual (all of the Asgard), Bisexual (maybe?)
PAIRINGS: F/F, M/F
REVIEWED BY: Rebecca
WARNINGS: A lot of fighting/violence
The Valkyrie Kara stood alone against the Ragnarok horde on Earth to ensure that the Asgard race and Valhalla could escape. For five thousand years she has fought and evaded the Ragnarok race on Earth, just waiting for her people to return.
This was difficult to rate. During some parts, I wanted to give it four stars, during others, I wanted to give it 1 or 2. Sometimes, a rating is fairly arbitrary, and that may be the case here. In the end, I think this book is a film in disguise. It's a movie, trying to be a novel, full of action, lightning spears, cheesy flirtations, tight-fitting armour, and repetitive dialogue. That said, I can still understand why it's so popular.
The concept of using Norse mythology as the basis of a female-led action sci-fi sounds wonderful, and it almost works. Kara had me quite interested for the first few chapters, and the creativity behind some of her weaponry was quite interesting. I can definitely say I've never read another story with the nano-lattice concept and it was definitely cool.
The issues with the book, however, started to compound the further I read. Kate and Kara experience the epitome of insta-love. It's hard to understand any movement of time in the story, but the two women seem to know each other for less than a day before they've all but decided to spend the rest of their lives together. Kate also seems to have no real friends or family, no qualms at all about the thought of leaving her entire life behind in order to be the new "Daughter of Odin" as Kara's mate (a word that I was really tired of by the end).
The main thing that had me gritting my teeth by the end of the novel was the repetition. The phrase "Well met, Valkyrie" is used so many times that I couldn't stand it anymore. The constant use of full titles when the Asgard spoke to each other also become cumbersome, such as "Kate the Raging Storm, Daughter of Odin and mate to Kara the Wild One" or even the shorter versions such as "Areena the Whispering Breeze, Second to Kate the Raging Storm". I appreciate the need for cultural differences between humans and Asgard, but it became frustrating overkill within two chapters of Valhalla's return.
The book is heavy on action, and I couldn't help but picture Kate Beckinsale in the Underworld series for a huge portion of the story. The writer clearly has a talent for fast-paced fight scenes and, to be fair, those who read my reviews know that this probably makes me the wrong reader for the book.
I felt somewhat disconnected from the characters during these fight scenes though, as their wounds and manoeuvres were always just listed, never really described, never explored in a way as to show how they felt, even though it's written in first person. Someone is stabbed in the chest from behind, and barely reacts, and doesn't seem to feel a thing. The constant mention of "fighting with valour" became a distraction from Kara and Kate themselves, like they only did what they did because, as they say over and over (and over and over) again "we are Valkyrie", as though that's an explanation on its own.
It's an interesting novel. And if you're like me and just adore any connection to the ancient world and/or mythology, then it's worth having a look at. If you enjoy action from nearly start-to-finish, then this is certainly a book for you! Just be prepared for certain plot points to be re-hashed several times, along with a fair amount of repetitive language use. I don't regret reading this one, it was entertaining overall, but I don't think I'll be picking up any others in the series, as much as I desperately love the overall concept.
*NOTE: Apparently there's a comic book adaption, and this could be something worth exploring!