Monday, 21 October 2013

A meeting with Huginn and Muninn, Odin's ravens

A couple of days ago I met Odin's ravens.

I was hiking in the mountains, around a small lake called Dalevatnet, when I first heard their hoarse cries. Looking up and around I saw no birds, but I knew a pair of ravens were living in the area, so I kept on walking and listening, watching my steps in the wet bogs around the lake. The autumn had turned the marches into a reddish brown; up the hillside the birches were loosing their yellow leaves.

The weather was grey and the wind cold, and I was halfway around the lake when I heard the ravens croak again, and now two birds came gliding over the mountan ridge; riding the wind, they followed the hill, only occationally flapping their wings.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Congratulations Tone Almhjell!

Norwegian author Tone Almhjell 

Tone Almhjell is a Norwegian author who has written the children fantasy book The Twistrose Key. The debut novel has been praised by and the Kirkus review begins in this way: "Skillfully blending facets of classic high fantasy, this debut novel will captivate readers with its rich plot and detailed worldbuilding." Tone Almhjell writes in English, and being a Norwegian writer who does the same, Tone's success is definitely an inspiration for me. Again: Congratulations!

The publishers book description:

"Something is wrong in the house that Lin's family has rented; Lin is sure of it. The clocks tick too slowly. Frost covers the flower bed, even in a rain storm. And when a secret key marked 'Twistrose' arrives for her, Lin finds a crack in the cellar, a gate to the world of Sylver.

This frozen realm is the home of every dead animal who ever loved a child. Lin is overjoyed to be reunited with Rufus, the pet she buried under the rosebush. But together they must find the missing Winter Prince that night in order to save Sylver from destruction. They are not the only ones hunting for the boy. In the dark hides a shadow-lipped man, waiting for this last Winter Prince to be delivered into his hands.

Exhilarating suspense and unforgettable characters awaits the readers of this magical adventure, destined to become a classic."

The Twistrose Key
The Twistrose Key

Buy The Twistrose Key on or

Sunday, 6 October 2013

The Ragnarok Riddle (Gåten Ragnarok)

Last night I went to the cinema to see Gåten Ragnarok (The Ragnarok Riddle or just Ragnarok), a new Norwegian action-adventure film inspired by Viking mythology and history.

In the film, Sigurd is an archaeologist and researcher at the Viking Ships Museum in Oslo, the capital of Norway. He works hard to reveal the mysteries connected to the very rich Oseberg burial finds, dug up during excavations back in 1904. His hard work has partly to do with the death of his wife, and his two children suffer because of his long working days.

Coming nowhere with his research and about to loose his job, Sigurd gets a breakthrough when a friend turns up with a rune stone he has found in the far north of Norway, in Finnmark. Combined with a broach from the Oseberg finds, a riddle written on the slab can be solved, but it only points to new riddles. The writings suggest that Queen Åsa, who was buried in the Oseberg ship, had been travelling up in the far north, and the runes point to a certain lake with a small island, called Odin's eye, deep into Finnmark wilderness.

Friday, 4 October 2013

Does Cornwell think we are stupid?

The Pagan Lord (The Saxon Stories, #7)The Pagan Lord by Bernard Cornwell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

(With spoilers from the two first (of thirteen) chapters.)

Bernard Cornwell is a master of his craft. He writes well, he knows how to tell an exciting story; he weaves his tales of Uthred of Bebbanburg nicely into Saxon history.

In The Pagan Lord Uthred comes home to Fagranforda and finds his hall in flames and his woman missing. Uthred rides to the Danish warlord Cnut Longsword and gets Sigrunn back on the condition that he will find Cnut's wife and only son, who are also abducted.

Home again, the rest of Uthred's homestead is burning, and Uthred is threatened by a Christian mob that is raging over his killing of a holy abbot. Beaten and cursed, Uthred rides to Lundene with his people and the rest of his warriors. Here he buys a warship and sets out with his men on a northerly voyage - to regain Bebbanburg Castle, his inheritance.

For readers it's only to board the ship, sit down on a thwart, and enjoy the ride. Cornwall will do all the steering and at regular intervals the conflicts (and almost everything else) will be repeated and difficult elements explained. No intellectual efforts needed. Everything is just right. Cornwell must think that his readers are stupid.

And stupid we are, sitting on the thwart or riding a horse, feeling Cornwall's hands holding the reins, enjoying every minute, very well knowing there's no need to turn off the television. Well done!

View all my reviews

Follow John Snow on Facebook