A Gathering of Ravens
To the Danes, he is skraelingr; to the English, he is orcneas; to the Irish, he is fomoraig. He is Corpse-maker and Life-quencher, the Bringer of Night, the Son of the Wolf and Brother of the Serpent. He is Grimnir, and he is the last of his kind--the last in a long line of monsters who have plagued humanity since the Elder Days.Drawn from his lair by a thirst for vengeance against the Dane who slew his brother, Grimnir emerges into a world that's changed. A new faith has arisen. The Old Ways are dying, and their followers retreating into the shadows; even still, Grimnir's vengeance cannot be denied.Taking a young Christian hostage to be his guide, Grimnir embarks on a journey that takes him from the hinterlands of Denmark, where the wisdom of the ancient dwarves has given way to madness, to the war-torn heart of southern England, where the spirits of the land make violence on one another. And thence to the green shores of Ireland and the Viking stronghold of Dubhlinn, where his enemy awaits.But, unless Grimnir can set aside his hatreds, his dream of retribution will come to nothing. For Dubhlinn is set to be the site of a reckoning--the Old Ways versus the New--and Grimnir, the last of his kind left to plague mankind, must choose: stand with the Christian King of Ireland and see his vengeance done or stand against him and see it slip away?Scott Oden's A Gathering of Ravens is an epic novel of vengeance, faith, and the power of myth.

A Gathering of Ravens Details

TitleA Gathering of Ravens
Author
FormatHardcover
ReleaseJun 20th, 2017
PublisherThomas Dunne Books
ISBN0312372949
ISBN-139780312372941
Number of pages320 pages
Rating
GenreFantasy, Historical, Fiction, Mythology

A Gathering of Ravens Review

  • Mogsy (MMOGC)
    June 20, 2017
    4 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum https://bibliosanctum.com/2017/06/22/...Ambitious in scope and audacious in its execution, A Gathering of Ravens spectacularly weaves together the threads of history and mythological tradition, spiriting readers away on a journey through legend and time. A master storyteller, author Scott Oden has combined elements from Norse and Celtic lore with the richness of the early medieval landscape to create a novel that is epic in every sense; we have bloodshed and tri 4 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum https://bibliosanctum.com/2017/06/22/...Ambitious in scope and audacious in its execution, A Gathering of Ravens spectacularly weaves together the threads of history and mythological tradition, spiriting readers away on a journey through legend and time. A master storyteller, author Scott Oden has combined elements from Norse and Celtic lore with the richness of the early medieval landscape to create a novel that is epic in every sense; we have bloodshed and triumph, love and loss, tragedy and hope…and yes, we also have an Orc.Grimnir is the last of his kind. The Anglo-Saxons call him orcnéas, while the Danes name him skrælingr, but most would agree that he is a monster, an evil creature birthed from the earth’s dark depths. But in truth, he is a lot more than that, as the plot expands to reveal his quest for vengeance against Bjarki Half-Dane, the oathbreaker who killed his brother. When two weary followers of Christ unknowingly take shelter in his cave one stormy night, Grimnir kidnaps the younger of them as his hostage, forcing her to be his guide to the land across the sea. Frightened and grieving for her friend now lost to her, Étaín has no choice but to do what her beastly captor says, accompanying him through the Danish wilderness to the Ash Road, a secret passageway which would lead them to England.However, their journey does not go exactly as planned. Grimnir and Étaín arrive at their destination to find that changes have swept across the country, and the two of them are now outsiders in every possible way. Yet Grimnir remains undeterred in his desire for revenge, and in spite of herself, Étaín also begins to see more than the monster in the Orc. The two of them are now each other’s only ally, with faith and honor ultimately leading them to a shared purpose.The strength of this book lies in the author’s skill in evoking the spirit and atmosphere of a time gone by. He perfectly captures the life and culture of the people in this era. Throughout the early sections of A Gathering of Ravens, I could practically feel the bitter chill of the Danish hinterlands, sense its sharpness deep within my bones. As the story unfolds, we also got to see the cruelty and injustices of war, the power struggles that result between different groups when their religious beliefs collide. Scott Oden’s forte is clearly his interest and enthusiasm for history; that much can be gleaned from every page of this meticulously crafted novel. However, I also simply adore the fantasy he has injected into the mix, incorporating mythological elements and ancient folklore like the Celtic fairies and even a few allusions to the legend of Beowulf. It is precisely because of this melding of magical factors that makes historical fantasy one of my favorite subgenres.And of course, there are the Orcs. In his afterword, Oden describes his impetus behind the story’s premise, offering some excellent insight into his process of creating Grimnir. To tell the truth, it gave me an even greater appreciation for this book, knowing how the concept behind this fascinating character was conceived and executed. One thing you can be sure of is that Grimnir is most definitely not your traditional kind of hero. From the start, he was an enigma, brutal yet complex. I loathed his treatment of Étaín at first, and saw him as a villain, but gradually as their journey went on, I began to sympathize with his bloodthirsty quest. Their relationship—especially their transition to becoming eventual allies—was written very well and handled realistically. Along with Étaín, my eyes became open to the Orc’s deeper sense of honor and duty. It may not be as we understand it, but it does go a long way in making Grimnir seem more heroic and worthy of the reader’s support. Non-human protagonists are often tricky to pull off, but the author has shown that they can indeed work, somehow also making it look easy at the same time. While Oden may have set out to redeem the Orc, whether or not he achieved that is going to be up to the individual reader, though personally speaking I can honestly say that by the end of the book I was solidly won over by Grimnir and was rooting for him all the way.So, should you read A Gathering of Ravens? Well, if you enjoy historical fantasy novels of vast and epic proportions, then yes, yes you absolutely should. Scott Oden’s delectable prose and attention to detail brought this story to life before my eyes, immersing me in a riveting world steeped in history and myth. I was also amazed at how easy it was to instantly engage with plot and feel invested in the characters. Clearly there’s a whole lot here to fall in love with, and I would not hesitate to recommend this novel to all fans of dark historical or mythical fantasy. I can’t wait to read more by the author.
    more
  • James Schmidt
    February 3, 2017
    My review today is for:A Gathering of Ravens by Scott OdenA copy of this book was provided to me in exchange for an honest review. My opinions are my own.Where do I begin with this epic historical fantasy? Let’s go back a little. I struck up an internet friendship with Scott after I kept seeing mention of his book. A book with Norse myths, and an Orc as the protagonist? Sign me up! I was not disappointed. I received a very early e-arc of the book thanks to Scott. I was in a huge reading slump an My review today is for:A Gathering of Ravens by Scott OdenA copy of this book was provided to me in exchange for an honest review. My opinions are my own.Where do I begin with this epic historical fantasy? Let’s go back a little. I struck up an internet friendship with Scott after I kept seeing mention of his book. A book with Norse myths, and an Orc as the protagonist? Sign me up! I was not disappointed. I received a very early e-arc of the book thanks to Scott. I was in a huge reading slump and needed something to help me snap out of it. This book did that and so much more. I don’t think I have ever been more excited for a new book to come out. If ever there was a book that was me, or for me, it is this book.Scott has seamlessly weaved a modern saga full of Norse myth and culture, a Norse, English, and Irish medieval historical setting, and the battle of old religions and new. This masterpiece is full of complex characters, gory battles, and a realistic and well researched historical setting. Oh, and did I mention Orcs! Yes, you read that right. But how you may ask. Our main character is the one and only Grimnir.“To the Danes, he is skraelingr; to the English, he is orcnéas; to the Irish, he is fomoraig. He is Corpse-maker and Life-quencher, the Bringer of Night, the Son of the Wolf and Brother of the Serpent. He is Grimnir, and he is the last of his kind―the last in a long line of monsters who have plagued humanity since the Elder Days.”This is not your normal protagonist. He is not someone to root for (but I did) or to be your champion. He is mean, nasty, ill tempered, and only has vengeance on his mind! My kind of Orc. Honestly this character is amazing. I am very impressed with the way this character was conceived and executed. Bravo Mr. Oden! The other cast of characters are on par with Grimnir, complex and multilayered, but none have his ability to demand your complete attention.The setting is an amazingly detailed, historically accurate medieval Europe. Well researched and realized in this novel. Norse, English, and Irish myth and culture collide with the new religion of the Nailed God. The world is in a monumental struggle to see which one will survive. I think this struggle between the old ways and the new was one of the biggest high points for me in this book. Something I have diligently researched on my own. The author has done a spectacular job of bringing this struggle into a real life battle within his novel. Did I just say battles? I think I did, and there are plenty of bloody, gore stained battles in this book. Not overly gory, but enough to get your blood pumping. Action, adventure, battles, religion, history, and most importantly phenomenal characters. What more can you ask for!In conclusion Scott Oden has a novel that is one of the best books I have read in a long time. I expect it to stay firmly planted at the top of my best of 2017 list. I rarely have such a bond with a book and a character as I have with A gathering of Ravens and with Grimnir. I am beside myself with excitement to see what comes next in this epic saga!As you know if you have read my reviews before I am not about long reviews with synopsis and spoilers. I just give my opinion on my experience with this book and you can take it from there. Now on to the next book.5/5 Stars! - MightyThorJRSYou can find all my reviews here: https://mightythorjrs.wordpress.com/
    more
  • S.wagenaar
    October 24, 2016
    To start things off, this is one of the best historical fantasy novels, and one of the best books of any genre I have read in a long time. I don't read a lot of modern fantasy, as I find many of them too bloated with padding to achieve a high page count. Scott has done in some 350 pages what many a modern fantasy author fails to do in 500+ pages; entertain the hell out of me! This book simply kicks ass. The story is always moving forward, each scene informs and entertains while moving the plot f To start things off, this is one of the best historical fantasy novels, and one of the best books of any genre I have read in a long time. I don't read a lot of modern fantasy, as I find many of them too bloated with padding to achieve a high page count. Scott has done in some 350 pages what many a modern fantasy author fails to do in 500+ pages; entertain the hell out of me! This book simply kicks ass. The story is always moving forward, each scene informs and entertains while moving the plot forward. There is never a wasted word or scene that does not keep things going. I like that.The setting is Viking Age Britain, and especially Viking dominated Ireland on the eve of the Battle of Clontarf. Gimnir is our protagonist, and I'm not spoiling anything by saying he is an Orc, but he is not your father's Orc. Grimnir is mean, harsh and bad ass. He's crafty and he will kill you just because he can. He is like Conan with a hangover and a toothache. And he's your hero. If you like your tales gritty and rough, you are gonna love this story.Swords clash, shields are sundered and spears are shattered. You can smell the smoke, feel the grit in your eyes and taste the blood. Mr Oden writes great combat scenes, from one on one to full on battles with a cast of thousands. I feel he can match even Robert E Howard when it comes time to let loose some blood 'n' thunder. Also, I really enjoyed the contrast of paganism vs Christianity, of the old ways of magic and Gods and the new cult of the Nailed God. Basically, Grimnir is on a quest for revenge, and nothing is going to stop him from his vengeance. Not man, nor beast nor God. There are also a couple of human characters at the forefront of the story, but not so many as you will lose count(or interest). However, they are all fully fleshed out and interesting. The magic in the story is neat and organic, fitting the setting perfectly, but not dominating the story. Scott's background in Historical fiction shines through by giving everything a realistic feel; it really could have happened like this (and maybe should have!). In the end, this is truly an excellent novel, and should not be missed by anyone who loves a good adventure. This is one of the few sword and sorcery novels I have read that works well as a full length novel. You can call it Fantasy, or Historical Fantasy or even Grimdark if you want. But this here is some good old-fashioned S&S with an awesome pulp-adventure flavor that REH would would appreciate. And so should you.
    more
  • Liz
    June 15, 2017
    Eh, but this is going to be such a difficult review for me, because even though I could see the things I could appreciate, there was something about the book overall that failed to fully capture me and convert me into a diehard fan.A Gathering of Ravens is a story of revenge, set in the time of Vikings when the power play in between Odin and Jesus was in full swing. (And we all know who came out on top, damn it!) The historical settings, myth and magic are intertwined as Grimnir (an evil, ugly A Eh, but this is going to be such a difficult review for me, because even though I could see the things I could appreciate, there was something about the book overall that failed to fully capture me and convert me into a diehard fan.A Gathering of Ravens is a story of revenge, set in the time of Vikings when the power play in between Odin and Jesus was in full swing. (And we all know who came out on top, damn it!) The historical settings, myth and magic are intertwined as Grimnir (an evil, ugly AF orc) takes hostage a Christian to be his guide in England. Together they travel from Denmark via Yggdrasil to England. On the way they meet dwarves, get up to all sorts of super violent and bloody shenanigans and generally have a proper spat over whose god is the best!The second half of the book takes us closer to the ‘revengee‘. We are now in Ireland, Dublin and get introduced to elves, nature spirits, a couple of witches and local armies battling it out. We get a great look at the Half Dane who Grimnir is after and the implications of his power and ambition. TBH, anything that Grimnir might have in store for him, no Christian would stand in the way of. Half Dane is awful.So, a couple of observations overall:That Grimnir needed a guide, is questionable. I am more than certain that Grimnir the mighty Corpse-maker and Life-quencher, the Bringer of Night, the Son of the Wolf and Brother of the Serpent would have managed just fine on his own on the journey to find Half-Dane. He had the means and tools to not need a Christian ‘fellow’ hanging with him. The only reason those two characters were thrust together was purely for the ‘entertainment‘ factor, I suspect, upon which the above mentioned religious spat depended on.Another thing with the mixology of myth, history and otherwordly beings was just that I felt there was a whole pile of different elements put into the story and as such most of their presences were fleeting and not entirely built upon to their full potential. OK, their parts in the story were valid and necessary to play their part, but I didn’t get entirely not enough of them… I would have liked to have more of a hand in play by the Witches, dwarves, elves and spirits. But that’s just me… personal preference alert here, guys!The first half of the book went rather slowly for me because all it was was a strong clash of beliefs with a trippy trip via Yggdrasil and nothing but brutal behavior. The second half of the book was more full bodied and had a lot more going on. Still, reading A Gathering of Ravens was a bit laborious for me… the characters didn’t go through tangible development, there was a whole lot more praying going on than I could stomach and all the brutality (whether by action or word) felt a bit automatic or mechanical because it moved from one bloody murder to the next bloody beating… Essentially, this is a book of bloody action to the extremes but without any real substance to the characters which I would have liked. Simply explaining actions by way of their respective religion gave me no indication of the people behind and beyond their religion. Well, no.. I lie… everyone in this book was evil in a way, Christian or heathen. But yes, I guess what was missing was soul… (I’m laughing here now…Do evil beings even have souls? let me ask the Christian!) See? I told you, it’s a hard review to write… I don’t even know!So yes, I have to admit, Grimnir’s ‘statements‘/dialogues were fantastically principled and loyal to Odin and the Old ways, with bits of evil contempt and sarcasm thrown in but I don’t know if it’s just because he was an Orc, but that was pretty much all there was to him and it got a bit old rather soonish.Having said all of the above, I can see and appreciate how certain elements were used to create this historical fantasy and all the pieces did fit together well enough. I don’t consider myself an expert in historical fact, myth or old tales to be able to analyze them and give you a factual overview.You can expect some flashbacks to get you up to speed for why an Orc is seeking for revenge, also some rhymes and tons of interesting characters making their rather short but useful appearances and… yeah, I’m saying it again- some bloody gore… Odin’s will is going to be read from livers…I think this is a book that will either completely and utterly satisfy a reader or not be what was expected at all… I’m sitting smug in the middle… It was in parts great, in parts not so much but I sure am happy I read the book and I look forward to reading more reviews of the book!
    more
  • Cora ☕ Tea Party Princess
    June 29, 2017
    5 Words: Religion, monster, power, revenge, mythology.I don't read a lot of them, but I do love historical fantasy. And this one was pretty much perfect.It did take a little while to get going, but once Aidan was revealed I was hooked. And once we got to all of the added politics later in the second half I couldn't put it down.I loved the setting, how vast and realistic everything felt. I loved the mix of history and mythology, and I loved how the different religions explored strengthened the pl 5 Words: Religion, monster, power, revenge, mythology.I don't read a lot of them, but I do love historical fantasy. And this one was pretty much perfect.It did take a little while to get going, but once Aidan was revealed I was hooked. And once we got to all of the added politics later in the second half I couldn't put it down.I loved the setting, how vast and realistic everything felt. I loved the mix of history and mythology, and I loved how the different religions explored strengthened the plot and the world. I'm not a fan of gore, but I did find that although this book had its fair share (it wouldn't have worked otherwise) that it wasn't too much and I could carry on reading without too much personal discomfort.It's a pity that this is a standalone, as I would love to read more.
    more
  • Sarah
    May 20, 2017
    Wow. I'm knocked a little speechless by this one. There is so much fantasy in this book, and seemingly so much history. I'm always impressed by historical fiction in which the writer has done their research and included real events, real times and real places and written them to be entertaining on top of it all. This book starts heavily on the fantasy side, and ends heavily on the side of history. I suppose, even the fantasy aspect was part of history. The author researched his mythology and wro Wow. I'm knocked a little speechless by this one. There is so much fantasy in this book, and seemingly so much history. I'm always impressed by historical fiction in which the writer has done their research and included real events, real times and real places and written them to be entertaining on top of it all. This book starts heavily on the fantasy side, and ends heavily on the side of history. I suppose, even the fantasy aspect was part of history. The author researched his mythology and wrote it well.The writing in general was excellent. Oden transports his readers to another time and place where magic roams the lands and the old gods do battle with the new "Nailed God". We were treated to sights like Yggdrasil, and standing stones. We meet Fae and sorceresses and familiars, daughters of Morrigan, and wights. It's dark and gritty, which is what I love from both fantasy and historical re-tellings. This book is told from the point of view of what is supposed to be, or resemble, an orc. Unfortunately it took me reading the author's note at the end to realize this. The author meshed together mythology from a few different cultures, Irish, Celtic and Danish/Norse. While I couldn't recall the word skraellingr from my knowledge of Danish mythology, and know little of Celtic mythology (though admittedly, this was stupid on my part because the word is right there- ORCneas), I do know a little about the Fomoraig. They were giants that did battle with the Tuatha de Danaan (the Fae). So I registered more with that word and glazed over the Orc in Orcneas. Additionally, he's described as having a wolf like appearance and being descended from Fenrir (a giant wolf of Danish mythology) and so I just thought of him as a wolf man. (What can I say- I just don't have Orcs on the brain.) No harm done though, I just reflected on it in a different light afterwards and it made perfect sense, and gave me a different appreciation for the story in general.That being said, the beginning was a little slow for me. It took me until about halfway through the story before I really became invested in the characters and their endings. I think it was due in large part, to Etain's preaching. It just got old really fast. She was one of those "monks" a certain Anglo Saxon Viking probably would have murdered for looking at him the wrong way. It got better as the story went on and she saw perhaps there was more to the world then was written in the teachings of the apostles.Once I was introduced to Blind Maeve and her wolf hound Conan, and the witch of Dubhlinn, Kormalda, the story began to pick up. The melding of the mythology and the history came together seamlessly and sucks the reader in and doesn't let go. I was rooting for them all in the end, Etain, Grimnir, Njall, and even for Kormalda. I even found myself rooting for the minor characters, King Brian and Ospak. Just a final note- this book is not very long, but takes concentration and is not what I would call an easy read. I don't mean it as a critique, more of a heads up for anyone considering reading this. It is a book steeped heavily in ancient mythology and uses and re-uses words that will not be familiar to most readers. Overall it was excellent and the author hinted in the epilogue that the adventures of Grimnir were not over, so I will definitely be on the lookout for a sequel. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys historical fiction, ancient mythology and fantasy. Thank you to St. Martins Press and Net Galley for providing me with an ARC!
    more
  • Rane
    March 30, 2017
    Know as a skraelingr to the Danes, orcneas to the English and fomoraig to the Irish. He is Corpse-maker and Life-quencher, the Bringer of Night, the Son of the Wolf and Brother of the Serpent. His name is Grimnir, and he is the last of his kind. Driven by an centenaries old vengeance, Grimnir takes hostage a young Christan and drags them into this blood soaked and war torn world in order to fulfilled his oath. I was very surprised when I found out Grimnir was an Orc. I've have never read a boo Know as a skraelingr to the Danes, orcneas to the English and fomoraig to the Irish. He is Corpse-maker and Life-quencher, the Bringer of Night, the Son of the Wolf and Brother of the Serpent. His name is Grimnir, and he is the last of his kind. Driven by an centenaries old vengeance, Grimnir takes hostage a young Christan and drags them into this blood soaked and war torn world in order to fulfilled his oath. I was very surprised when I found out Grimnir was an Orc. I've have never read a book with an Orc as an protagonist. Now don't think Grimnir is some goodie two shoes. Far from it. He's an a**hole! He does alot of questionable and doesn't think who he has to grin under his heel to get what he wants. So when he comes across as young Christan he drags them from the new world faith to the old world ways. Oden weaves an incredible tale using the mythology of Norse and many others, taking pieces from Beowolf to Balor and it works completely. It flows and makes so much sense for Grimnir backstory and his "family" line of war-thirst monsters. The story can be very violent in a violent time of the middle ages where war of clans and new faiths are fighting for dominance, the old magic giving way to the new faith of Christ words. The balancing act of this time showed not only the change of the world but the change of Grimnir himself. In all his acts of war and violent, he does keep his word, and had a honor he follows to the bitter end but he's part of a dying breed of warriors. Many of the characters you meet along the way from the fae folk to the willow trees to the kings and witches. All have something to gain in this world where only the strong-will survive and each come with a big personality. None such as Grimnir "companion" who starts off as a hostage and later bears witness to the change of times at his side. In the end both Grimnir and the young Christan grew to really respect the other with a tale that reaches long after them both. Placed in the age of change and violence and rich with history, Oden created an world with the last Orc and warriors of old and the birth of the new in a truly amazing tale.
    more
  • Frank Errington
    June 23, 2017
    Review copyThe story in Scott Oden's, A Gathering of Ravens. takes place a thousand years in the past. It is a mix of legend, history, myth, magick, and the growing influence of Christianity. It's not the kind of fare I would usually read or review, but I'm so glad I picked this up.An epic tale from an orc's point of view. From the synopsis of A Gathering of Ravens..."To the Danes, he is skraelingr; to the English, he is orcnéas; to the Irish, he is fomoraig. He is Corpse-maker and Life-quencher Review copyThe story in Scott Oden's, A Gathering of Ravens. takes place a thousand years in the past. It is a mix of legend, history, myth, magick, and the growing influence of Christianity. It's not the kind of fare I would usually read or review, but I'm so glad I picked this up.An epic tale from an orc's point of view. From the synopsis of A Gathering of Ravens..."To the Danes, he is skraelingr; to the English, he is orcnéas; to the Irish, he is fomoraig. He is Corpse-maker and Life-quencher, the Bringer of Night, the Son of the Wolf and Brother of the Serpent. He is Grimnir, and he is the last of his kind—the last in a long line of monsters who have plagued humanity since the Elder Days."At its root, the story is about Grimnir's quest for revenge against the Half-Dane Bjarki. A Gathering of Ravens is filled with wonderful characters, even secondary players like Blind Maeve are imbued with life in this wonderfully layered tale."With sudden vehemence, Grimnir carved his seax through the Saxon's throat. He slashed once. Twice. And on the third blow vertebrae crunched as the dead man's head came free. Grimnir straightened, holding his prize by its long hair."If you like stuff like that, A Gathering of Ravens is definitely a tale worth your time. Treachery, double-crosses, epic battles, and unexpected compassion. All leading to the climatic Battle on the Plain of Tarbh."...carved the blade across (his) belly and ripped him open from right to left, viscera tumbled out, loops of red and purple intestine, sacks of organs; blood splashed the roots of the tree, and the stench of bowel rose from the cavernous wound."Recommended.A Gathering of Ravens: A Novel is available in both hardcover and e-book formats from Thomas Dunne Books, a division of St. Martin's Press.From the author's bio - Scott Oden was born in Indiana but has spent most of his life shuffling between his home in rural North Alabama. a hobbit hole in Middle-earth, and some sketchy tavern in the Hyborian Age. When not writing he can be found walking his two dogs or doting on his lovely wife, Shannon.
    more
  • Tracey the Lizard Queen
    June 28, 2017
    Full RTC
  • Joshua Robertson
    June 24, 2017
    A Gathering of Ravens was my introduction to Scott Oden’s work, and after completing the mytho-historical story, I am now scouring his backlist for another appealing tale. The story is imposing and dark, deftly woven by Oden to mix legend and history, telling of the last Orc and his quest for revenge. If you like action, complex characters, and gory battles, this book is worth reading.
    more
  • Care
    April 22, 2017
    A Gathering of Ravens is a skillfully woven historical fantasy that straddles legend and reality to deliver a sucker punch of an action story. Grinmir, the last of his ancient kind, has abducted Étaín to assist him on his quest for vengeance against the one who killed the rest of his kin. He, a direct product of the world of the old Norse gods, and she, the devout follower of Christ, traverse across countries and time in a journey that will change both of them. Set in the era of Gaels, Saxons, a A Gathering of Ravens is a skillfully woven historical fantasy that straddles legend and reality to deliver a sucker punch of an action story. Grinmir, the last of his ancient kind, has abducted Étaín to assist him on his quest for vengeance against the one who killed the rest of his kin. He, a direct product of the world of the old Norse gods, and she, the devout follower of Christ, traverse across countries and time in a journey that will change both of them. Set in the era of Gaels, Saxons, and Danes, this novel is an encounter of the old gods and the new God, of different generations, of men and elements that are not man.On the whole, I found the fantasy enrapturing and fascinating, with an interesting and unique plot as well as seemless blending of fantasy into history. However, I did find frustrating that while there often were explanations for some of the ancient words built into the conversation, not all terms were given definitions, which I felt drew away from the plot a bit. The main characters, while changing some by nature of the journey they went on, developed rather rapidly and not quite as deeply to my satisfaction. I also felt the ending was a bit sudden with not enough meat to thoroughly tie up all plots, but it was by no means unsatisfying. Overall, the writing was well done, the descriptions vivid, and the plot interesting. I thought the encounters between the two very different religions was masterfully played out with enough respect and a healthy dose of mystery. I would definitely recommend to any readers of fantasy epics, particularly those interested in a more historical bent, although please note there is significant gore and violence described. Thanks to the publisher for an ARC in exchange for a fair review!
    more
  • Robin Carter
    October 15, 2016
    ReviewFor quite some time i have espoused the huge (and growing) cross over in the Fantasy and Historical Fiction genres, the two genres i have most read and reviewed in the last 25 years.Scott Odens A Gathering of Ravens takes it a step further, he pulls in the deep myths of the Norse and Anglo Saxon world, just as Christianity is blooming across Europe, Britain and then later wraps in the ancient tales of Ireland. The old world is fading but the pagan world is still a huge part of many lives a ReviewFor quite some time i have espoused the huge (and growing) cross over in the Fantasy and Historical Fiction genres, the two genres i have most read and reviewed in the last 25 years.Scott Odens A Gathering of Ravens takes it a step further, he pulls in the deep myths of the Norse and Anglo Saxon world, just as Christianity is blooming across Europe, Britain and then later wraps in the ancient tales of Ireland. The old world is fading but the pagan world is still a huge part of many lives and for those converted to the nailed god, some have a tenuous hold on their new faith. For me this book brought back memories of 2000ad and Slaine…. in one of the most famous stories Slaine is sent back to Ireland to fight Balor the one Eye and the Formorians ( aka skraelingr) . This book follows The profoundly dark Grimnir a hard spoken loner, a Skraelingr and Etain a follower of the Nailed god, a young christian certain in her faith. Both are set for new revelations towards each others beliefs and understanding and the reader is treated to two totally opposing views of the world.Read the rest of the review herehttps://parmenionbooks.wordpress.com/...
    more
  • Jeff Bryant
    November 26, 2016
    I was privileged to read an uncorrected proof of this book from Scott.Reading Gathering of Ravens, it is obvious Scott Oden is a fan of Robert E Howard and his tales of Conan. The story rises like a mighty warrior from the misty fens, grime faced and red handed. Dark and gritty, it invokes the age that it is set in. The story harkens to the Eddas, the tales of the Norse, and presents Grimnir, a unique protagonist, arisen from legend and the sons of Cain. The story puts its roots down as deep as I was privileged to read an uncorrected proof of this book from Scott.Reading Gathering of Ravens, it is obvious Scott Oden is a fan of Robert E Howard and his tales of Conan. The story rises like a mighty warrior from the misty fens, grime faced and red handed. Dark and gritty, it invokes the age that it is set in. The story harkens to the Eddas, the tales of the Norse, and presents Grimnir, a unique protagonist, arisen from legend and the sons of Cain. The story puts its roots down as deep as Yggdrasil, the World Tree, weaving Old World mythology and dark fantasy seamlessly. Oden immerses you in the story, you feel the mud and sweat, smell the fear and smoke of battle, hear the creak of leather harness and the sting of the blades edge. An amazing and intriguing journey, it is a tale worth reading more than once.
    more
  • Nicole Sweeney
    June 29, 2017
    Review originally posted on The Bibliophile ChroniclesThis book absolutely blew me away. I first heard about this book on Twitter, with the tag line ‘Lord of the Rings meets Beowulf.’ If I wasn’t already champing at the bit to read it after that, the exciting synopsis (and that gorgeous cover) had me really eager to read A Gathering of Ravens. I started reading it pretty much as soon as it arrived, and I was instantly hooked. The blend of mythology and fantasy is just stunning, and I loved every Review originally posted on The Bibliophile ChroniclesThis book absolutely blew me away. I first heard about this book on Twitter, with the tag line ‘Lord of the Rings meets Beowulf.’ If I wasn’t already champing at the bit to read it after that, the exciting synopsis (and that gorgeous cover) had me really eager to read A Gathering of Ravens. I started reading it pretty much as soon as it arrived, and I was instantly hooked. The blend of mythology and fantasy is just stunning, and I loved every second of it.One of the things that particularly struck me about A Gathering of Ravens is the setting, it’s meticulously researched, with the medieval Europe setting instantly comes alive in Oden’s writing. The atmosphere is dark and bitter, and the cold icy landscapes of Europe definitely made me shiver once or twice. There’s also plenty of battles and bloodshed, making this book a really incredible story.To be perfectly honest mythology is not something I knew too much about, I definitely find it interesting but I’m not as familiar with the different beliefs as some readers might be. That didn’t stop me enjoying this book though, the mixing of fantasy and mythology making that it a dark and enticing story, regardless if you’re familiar with the gods or not.The characters are also similarly fascinating. Grimnir is such an interesting character, the last of his kind and determined to see his vengeance done. I also loved the fact that he was an Orc. He does a lot of not so nice things, and doesn’t let anyone stand in his way. Having Grimnir as the main protagonist is intense and interesting perspective to see things from. I loved the mix of other characters as well, from fae folk to dwarves. It all comes together to create a wonderful mix, that is seamless in its execution.I will also say that while this isn’t an overly large book, it did take me a fair while to read. It’s such a complex story with so many different elements, I really wanted to take my time and savour every moment. The beginning of the novel is quite a slow burner, but I found that quite helpful as it gave me the chance to wrap my head around the different beliefs. The second half of the book does ramp up a bit more, particularly as you become more invested in the characters. I have seen online that this is the first of three stand-alone titles with Grimnir threading through them all, and I am very much looking forward to seeing what’s in store next. I loved this book from beginning to end, and if you’re a fan of fantasy fiction and mythology, this is an absolute must read.
    more
  • Rebecca
    June 16, 2017
    Amongst the readers of the grimdark subgenre, A Gathering of Ravens has been highly anticipated and for good reason. To me it read like Beowulf meets the History Channel’s Vikings and held all the gravitas of an epic of old. The story itself feels quite dense and isn’t something I could read all in one go. I read small chunks of story over the course of several days and still wish I could have spread it out a little more so it could be properly digested. Nonetheless, it was well written and I en Amongst the readers of the grimdark subgenre, A Gathering of Ravens has been highly anticipated and for good reason. To me it read like Beowulf meets the History Channel’s Vikings and held all the gravitas of an epic of old. The story itself feels quite dense and isn’t something I could read all in one go. I read small chunks of story over the course of several days and still wish I could have spread it out a little more so it could be properly digested. Nonetheless, it was well written and I enjoyed the meandering journey taken by our characters Grimnir and Etain. Grimnir is known by many names, but for our purposes let’s simplify things and say that he is an orc from legend. Grimnir is on a journey of revenge and Etain is his unwilling guide to England and beyond to Ireland. Eventually she willingly accompanies Grimnir further than she truly needs to because someone’s got to retell this epic story of revenge, right?A Gathering of Ravens is much more plot driven than character driven, making it more difficult to really bond with the characters as you read. I found that I didn’t particular care about their fates because I felt removed from the plights, successes, and failures they faced. I did warm to them by degrees as the story progressed but it took to around the 50% mark for this to happen. Grimnir’s revenge (a cool alternate title) is the primary plot arc, but the interactions between Etain and Grimnir’s respective beliefs is a close second. Prior to her capture, Etain was disguised as a monk and headed to the monastery of Roskilde to pursue her passion and bring the Danes to Christ. Grimnir is a believer in Odin, the great end time of Ragnarok and all the other Norse mythos that goes along with that. The two butt heads frequently, especially at first, but once Etain and Grimnir traverse the roots of Yggdrasil she cannot deny that the world has depths of which she was unaware. Grimnir also cannot deny that Etain’s belief in Christ is powerful and potent against his kind.Overall, A Gathering of Ravens was very good and I would go so far as to call it a classic in the making, if only because of the subject matter and the skill in which Oden wove this story. This is essentially a story of revenge, but if you look a bit deeper, it is also a story of what happens when two worlds collide. Christianity is pushing out the Norse mythos, causing strife between those that believe and those that do not adding an additional layer of depth to an already detailed story. I look forward to checking out more of Scott Oden’s books in the future and hope to find some more awesome historical fantasy.
    more
  • Tom Barczak
    June 4, 2017
    Cataclysmic and Lyrical as befitting the End of Days, Scott Oden blends history and myth in a way I have never read before, but have wanted to for a very long time.Unlike anyone else, he speaks with the voice, and sees with the eyes of an age, an age of warriors and kings, and songs of the end of days.He does it so well, I believe, because he knows their fears. He knows their beliefs. He knows their loves and their loss, light and darkness, demons and angels, pagan and Christian both. And I prom Cataclysmic and Lyrical as befitting the End of Days, Scott Oden blends history and myth in a way I have never read before, but have wanted to for a very long time.Unlike anyone else, he speaks with the voice, and sees with the eyes of an age, an age of warriors and kings, and songs of the end of days.He does it so well, I believe, because he knows their fears. He knows their beliefs. He knows their loves and their loss, light and darkness, demons and angels, pagan and Christian both. And I promise you, if you let him show you, you will too, and you will never be the same again.But even better than that, if you let him, Scott Oden will convince you, that orcs are real.
    more
  • Jon Adams
    June 23, 2017
    So. Damn. Good.
  • Avery
    May 6, 2017
    Hi! I don't know who's reading this review, but if you're the asshole who's been sending me anonymous messages, you can kindly fuck yourself and get the hell out of my life. The review below is MY OPINION, and the fact that you're being this childish over it is pathetic. Get over it. I will not be removing it.Original Review:I would like to thank the people at Thomas Dunne Books for allowing me to have an ARC of this book via NetGalley.See more of my reviews on my blog the Book DeviantI'll be ke Hi! I don't know who's reading this review, but if you're the asshole who's been sending me anonymous messages, you can kindly fuck yourself and get the hell out of my life. The review below is MY OPINION, and the fact that you're being this childish over it is pathetic. Get over it. I will not be removing it.Original Review:I would like to thank the people at Thomas Dunne Books for allowing me to have an ARC of this book via NetGalley.See more of my reviews on my blog the Book DeviantI'll be keeping this one short, mainly because I don't want to waste much more of my time on it.Flimsy researchOden falls into the unfortunate category of male fantasy authors who use offensive tropes and thinks it makes him some kind of big-name fantasy author. He obviously took care in researching cultures that he doesn't belong to, but there's apparent evidence that whatever research he did was inaccurate, or that he was just using whatever sounded cool.The names he provides for Grimnir were inaccurate, as told by another reviewer here. The Norse research was also fairly flimsy, as I found most of the information that Oden used in a single Wikipedia search.Offensive stereotypes and queer baitingAnother thing that really bothered me was the descriptions. Anyone who wasn't Grimnir was described as white, pure, and innocent. And Grimnir himself was described as "swarthy" and "dark" and "evil". He also slaughters a multitude of people within the first hundred pages, lending to the fact that those who are "white" and "pure" call him a "savage". Can you tell me whats wrong with that? (Answer: the "dark skinned aggressor" trope is really fucking racist and it pissed me off.)In the beginning, the Christian is a boy. And then his companion asks him "But, what if they discover your true nature? What if you fall in love with one of your brother monks and he rejects your advances? What then" - ARC page 8. As any logical person, I took this as a boy being gay, and that he was going to the church at Roskild to hide or something. I thought I had landed on unexpected queer rep, and I was SO excited. But then it was revealed that the boy was actually a girl disguised as a boy. Were they trans? No.No, they were called a whore and a slut over and over again when her true gender was revealed. Because apparently that's how women are treated. Multiple instances, rape is normalized, but I didn't get far enough to truly tackle that one. one star - Overall?Remind me to never use NetGalley in hopes of finding a new favorite. I'll only be using it to find anticipated releases that I've already heard of after this huge disappointment. (By the way, everything I listed above took place within the first hundred pages. I didn't bother with the rest, as I was sick and tired of the book, and it was causing a book slump)Would I Recommend?No. Not to my marginalized friends, and not to non-marginalized peoples. The writing is fairly decent, but there is a large amount of Christianity that I wasn't expecting, as well as racism, queer baiting, and slut-shaming. Trigger warnings for all in the bold, as well.
    more
  • Joanna Park
    June 27, 2017
    Review to come!
  • Tim Martin
    December 18, 2016
    This was a mighty impressive book. It has the virtue of both being one of the best fantasy novels I have read in years yet at the same time is a book that really scratched an itch I had for a Norse, English, and Irish medieval historical setting (and very successfully scratching that itch). There is a lot to like about it…so let me begin my gushing with my praise in no particular order.The setting was phenomenal, not just in terms of historical feel but in terms of the everyday, feeling very gro This was a mighty impressive book. It has the virtue of both being one of the best fantasy novels I have read in years yet at the same time is a book that really scratched an itch I had for a Norse, English, and Irish medieval historical setting (and very successfully scratching that itch). There is a lot to like about it…so let me begin my gushing with my praise in no particular order.The setting was phenomenal, not just in terms of historical feel but in terms of the everyday, feeling very grounded, as while we got to meet kings on this amazing journey of a novel, the author never lost the feel (and the fate) of the everyday common folk. I love high fantasy and it is still probably my favorite fantasy subgenre, but this novel really seemed to inhabit a living, breathing world and deal with the common folk in way many fantasy novels don’t even try. The physical setting – the stormy northern European weather, the cloud-wrapped mountains, the dense woods, the stony shores, the green green land of Ireland – also felt real and alive. I love the outdoors and nature and once again, Oden really captured the real physicality of Denmark, England, and Ireland. I fancy myself something of an amateur botanist and the author did very well in that regard! One of the most exciting aspects of the novel was the deft weaving in of the myths, legends, folklore, and monsters of Norse mythos, of old, old England, and of Ireland. It is definitely a fantasy novel and never lets the reader forget. I don’t want to give any of the surprises away (and there are surprises), but this tale, while very grounded and strangely relatable, definitely does not lack for the supernatural, magic, and some very creepy creatures. As I am a huge fan especially of Norse mythos, this book is a favorite of mine twice over because of their inclusion, so rarely are they used in fantasy writings, certainly to the degree used here. I loved, loved, loved the interplay of a spreading Christianity in a world still inhabited by Norse and Celtic magic. It was incredibly interesting and quite possibly the best part of the book. I don’t want to give anything away but it was a very interesting dynamic and while there were definite ebbs and flows of one or the other, definitely and fittingly echoed Tolkien’s concept of a “long defeat,” appropriate in a novel that had a strong sense of not only exploring the world Tolkien drew from but also acknowledging the enormous influence the Professor had on what it means to be an orc. Pacing was excellent, the book never lagged, there were no slow spots, the exposition that we got never felt like info dumps and was always delivered in a lively and entertaining way. Fight scenes were engaging, felt very realistic, and were easy to follow yet full of surprises. I feel I can’t comment much on the plot as there are so many twists, turns, and possible spoilers I don’t want to ruin the experience for the reader. Suffice it to say there are two main characters, one of them Grimnir, Oden’s brilliant imagining of what orcs might be like if they were part of our real world. He was surprisingly nuanced and layered a character, something I had not expected, though perhaps more surprising was his companion, who was not there to serve as a straight man, foil, or someone to rescue but a very interesting and relatable character with far more agency than most people would have ever even imagined for that role. Well done. The author’s final notes post-epilogue are worth reading as well, delving into his writing process and the thoughts behind the novel and Grimnir. I heartily applaud his redemption of the orcs and forging a new path in how they are portrayed in modern fantasy writing. I hope that serves as an inspiration to other fantasy author who might want to put a fresh new spin on ancient and medieval creatures that have been either taken for granted or even forgotten. I really have no complaints about the book to offer. Sometimes the action scenes were a little gory but they certainly never felt gratuitous or out of place and fit the setting and time period. I think my mentioning it is more a matter of taste than anything else. Other than that, I have nothing to object to and much to praise about this novel.
    more
  • Femke
    June 5, 2017
    The first few chapters didn't suck me in but once the pace picks up it's absolutely amazing. Grimnir is one of the best characters ever. The story is well developed and I'm loving the rich history of both the characters and the world. I've never known much about Norse mythology so at times I did have to Google some things. If you love orcs and grimdark you should read this asap. I can't wait to read more about Grimnir!
    more
  • Chelly
    May 29, 2017
    Full review: http://chellywrites.blogspot.com/2017...
  • Holly Ann
    March 10, 2017
    I can't say enough about A Gathering of Ravens! The characters are three-dimensional, and the world building is so well done that at times it's hard to tell what's real and what's not. Hopefully this will be the first in a series, because the epilogue wasn't nearly enough.Two friends who are traveling to a monastery spend the night in a cave, sheltering themselves from a storm. Inside the cave, they come face to face with Grimnir, the last of his people. The orc's red eyes match his fiery temper I can't say enough about A Gathering of Ravens! The characters are three-dimensional, and the world building is so well done that at times it's hard to tell what's real and what's not. Hopefully this will be the first in a series, because the epilogue wasn't nearly enough.Two friends who are traveling to a monastery spend the night in a cave, sheltering themselves from a storm. Inside the cave, they come face to face with Grimnir, the last of his people. The orc's red eyes match his fiery temper. Though he lets the friends stay the night in his cave, come morning, things change drastically.The fate of all three are bound together, and they have a grave impact on the outcome of each other's lives.I wish I could say more, but I don't want to spoil Oden's intricate plot. Suffice to say there is witchcraft, war, vengeance, violence, redemption, and tons of action in this wild fantasy tale. You're doing yourself a huge disservice if you don't read it.
    more
  • Tom
    March 14, 2017
    As a long-time fan of Scott’s work, I was eagerly looking forward this this book. It has everything one could hope for from a book of this nature. With a deft hand, Scott blends action, myth, history, a dash of horror, and even a pinch of redemption. The result is a book that grabs the reader by the hair and drags him or her along for an incredible journey across the waning years of the Viking Age. Our guides are as unlikely a pair as one could imagine. And yet they blend and complement each oth As a long-time fan of Scott’s work, I was eagerly looking forward this this book. It has everything one could hope for from a book of this nature. With a deft hand, Scott blends action, myth, history, a dash of horror, and even a pinch of redemption. The result is a book that grabs the reader by the hair and drags him or her along for an incredible journey across the waning years of the Viking Age. Our guides are as unlikely a pair as one could imagine. And yet they blend and complement each other in ways one doesn’t suspect until it happens. And it all leads to a very satisfying ending that is sure to leave you breathless, yet wanting more.
    more
  • Trevor Sherman
    April 5, 2017
    A great blend of Myth and Fantasy. Filled with strong characters that I really liked and one that I am not sure if I love or hate. I will try to get a review on my blog soon but I have been saying that a lot lately. But for now I would actually rate this 4.25 stars I am finally making a dent in my TBR but my TB Reviewed is getting longer than ever. Oh and Scott gave me a copy of the book but that in no way changes my review
    more
  • Ashley McGee
    May 28, 2017
    For those of you who are tired of ordinary fantasy, fed up with the same spry elves with gorgeous hair, and bored with the same old, tired, almost-always male protagonists and below-average intelligence bestiaries:Welcome to Grimdark.Grimdark is that section of speculative fantasy and science fiction that just doesn't go anywhere. Cross-platform plots, mixed bestiaries, unicorns in space, and a host of morally bankrupt protagonists make it difficult for Barnes and Noble to parse it by shelf sect For those of you who are tired of ordinary fantasy, fed up with the same spry elves with gorgeous hair, and bored with the same old, tired, almost-always male protagonists and below-average intelligence bestiaries:Welcome to Grimdark.Grimdark is that section of speculative fantasy and science fiction that just doesn't go anywhere. Cross-platform plots, mixed bestiaries, unicorns in space, and a host of morally bankrupt protagonists make it difficult for Barnes and Noble to parse it by shelf section, so the readers and writers of Grimdark have created a class all their own.Arguably, it was Michael Moorcock's harsh criticism of his predecessor, Tolkien, that may have sparked the movement, but it is also found as far back as Mervyn Peake (Moorcock's own inspiration) where we first begin to see the signs of decadence in a setting ruled by a monarchy no one would be sad to see die off in a genre traditionally ruled by monarchies whose protagonists are sworn to uphold them. In Peake we see the rise of the kitchen boy destined to be greater than he is, no matter who he has to drown, starve, maim, or humiliate to realize his endgame. Peake and Moorcock gave us the beautiful people we can't love and villains we don't hate.Grimdark is defined by protagonists who are morally ambiguous. Sex is in your face, and not everyone enjoys it. Damsels save themselves. Elves are perhaps perverse and decadent while Orcs are the only beings you can trust. Anything Warhammer.Leading the way in the pop culture front, often characterized as "Low Fantasy" is George R. R. Martin, R. Scott Baker, and the traditional Grimdark go-to's: Glen Cook, Richard A. Knaak, and of course Michael Moorcock. Down here among the plebeians, we're happy to promote the-up-and-comers: Michael Fletcher, Dyrk Ashton, and the inimitable Scott Oden. In fact that's why I've gathered you all here today.Let's talk Grimdark: A Gathering of Ravens by Scott OdenIf you were looking for a historical Grimdark fantasy tale that is one half-shaved head away from Ragnor Lothbrok, look no further than A Gathering of Ravens, set for publication June 20, 2017 from Thomas Dunne Books. Scott Oden is no self-published novice. He's a veteran author known for his previous works, Memnon and The Lion of Cairo, which I hope to pick up before the year is out. Scott Oden returns to his place among the scholars with A Gathering of Ravens, a novel set in medieval Scandinavia, England, and Ireland that tells a fast-paced, epic story of vengeance, oath breaking, kin slaying, and unshakeable faith. Fans of the History Channel television show Vikings will find a lot to love in this novel, especially if you have made it to any of the later seasons.I was fortunate to be among the few who were given an ARC of AGoR, and let me tell you, my friends, you are in for a treat. Oden does not handle this novel like a traditional fantasy or traditional history novel. He blends the singular combination of a race of mythical people that spans three separate historical civilizations with a creature from the beastiaries we love to hate: orcs. Oden's main character, Grimnir, is the last of a cursed race called the kaunr, so hated by the Norse that they are called skrailinger, and that wrecked such havoc during the Norse and Danish invasions that they are even known in England as the orcneas, and in Ireland as the fomorach. Mythically, they were the children of Ymir. According to Oden's notes at the end of the novel, traces of the kaunr could be glimpsed in Grendel from Beowulf, and among the Fomorian of Irish legend, from which Oden takes their Irish name. Oden cleverly weaves these scraps of legend into a race of creatures bred for war and destruction, but with a keen sense of clannishness and bonds of blood that cannot be forgotten no matter how poisonous that particular blood relation might be. Hated and marginalized, the kaunr are wiped out, leaving only Grimnir Baelegyr's Son and one other hated half-blood relative, Bjarki Half Dane.Caught up in Grimnir's quest for weregild (blood for blood) is Etain, a woman hiding as a Christian priest to escape a vengeful husband and devote her life to God. She has a role to play in Grimnir's fate that she cannot escape, and must use her faith in God to hold onto her humanity as the last of her innocence is stripped from her.As a story, Oden's pacing for this novel is unmatched. In only 319 pages, Oden's characters cross three countries and two timelines. The novel is episodic yet never strays from its original story arch. Oden's characters are infuriatingly bull-headed (both of them) yet where Grimnir's stalwart refusal to give up is unhealthy, Etain's steadfast faith is a testament to her character as a human being. Her refusal to give up that faith against the onslaught of pagan magic surrounding her seems naive at first, and one expects her to break eventually from it. However, Etain soon learns that her faith is a shield and her greatest weapon. Etain is literally the embodiment of, "The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not falter."As a member of a race nearly forgotten by man, Grimnir's own faith infuriates Etain, who is convinced that even Grimnir can be saved if he finds God. Grimnir does not compromise. He is everything you could possibly hope for in a strong protagonist, except for the part where he literally does not care about anyone but himself, not even Etain really.The battle between the two faiths has no clear-cut good or evil, one true God or Allfather. No matter who is worshiped, everyone is going to Hell. Every character in the novel is the protagonist of his or her own story. For those who are looking for morals and happy endings, you'll find it here but juuuuust barely. Characteristic of true Grimdark, no one is truly good or truly evil in this novel, which will draw many in the current market that made a hero out of Walter White and never got past the second book of Paradise Lost, but it may repulse traditional fantasy readers who are looking for Aragorn and Frodo. Grimnir killed them and he is not sorry.ConclusionsAs the fantasy market continues to prove itself as glutted and pretentious as all pop culture markets, Grimdark is a genre of fiction by the people for the people. When the industry stopped giving us what we needed from fiction, Grimdark authors wrote it themselves. You will be able to find A Gathering of Ravens on sale on Amazon in June. As a belated birthday present to me, please do yourself a favor and pre-order this novel. Scott Oden is proving that the independent publication industry is here to stay while deserving a wide readership among those who frequent the New York Times bestseller lists for their nightstand book pile.Once again, thank you for this book, Scott. It took me forever to finish it because I did not want it to end.
    more
  • The Nerd Daily
    June 28, 2017
    Published on The Nerd Daily | Review by EphremNorse and Celtic mythology are beautifully woven in this historical fantasy novel set in medieval Europe, where the battle between the Old and New religions are at its peak. With his masterful storytelling skills, Scott Oden spirits the reader across different legends and lore while introducing a diverse cast of characters, including Grimnir, our not-so-normal protagonist who is the last of his kind.The book begins in Denmark where two Christians fin Published on The Nerd Daily | Review by EphremNorse and Celtic mythology are beautifully woven in this historical fantasy novel set in medieval Europe, where the battle between the Old and New religions are at its peak. With his masterful storytelling skills, Scott Oden spirits the reader across different legends and lore while introducing a diverse cast of characters, including Grimnir, our not-so-normal protagonist who is the last of his kind.The book begins in Denmark where two Christians find shelter in a cave, only to find out that it is an orc's lair who goes by the name of Grimnir. Their host quickly takes advantage of this opportunity and abducts the youngest of them to take her hostage so she can help him fulfil his quest for vengeance. Étaín is forced to guide him through England to save her own life as well as her friend’s. Transported through Yggðrasil (an ancient mythical tree) to England, she is faced with a surprising twist and in the midst of a chaotic war.The novel’s strongest element were the characters, which were three-dimensional and complex since all of them come across as spellbinding with their intricate backstories that cling to them throughout their journey. For Grimnir, his cruel and bloodthirsty personality turns him into a unique “you love to hate him” character, but it is Étaín’s character development which is truly remarkable. She slowly evolves from cursing her gender because of the social issues women faced and still face to this day, and eventually embraces it to become a strong woman whose skills are numerous.The relationship that birthed between Grimnir and Étaín is wonderful as Grimnir goes from being too possessive as well as mistreating his captive to becoming an ally of hers, and most of all, a friend.Let’s talk about Grimnir for a second. He is the most intriguing protagonist I have personally read about with many names to accompany his ominous character. To the Danes, he is skraelingr; to the English, he is orcneas; to the Irish, he is fomoraig. He is also known as the Corpse-maker and Life-quencher, the Bringer of Night, the Son of the Wolf and Brother of the Serpent. Although his lust for vengeance seemed somewhat ridiculous at first, along with his barbarous and feral ways making it difficult to like him, the author makes sure you are able to understand his character so you’re eventually able to sympathize with him and understand his convoluted past.Another stellar element is the world-building. Oden gracefully introduces the world and magnificently throws in fantasy elements from the Yggðrasil to the spirits that haunt the lands, to the witches and the many wars that take place. The author excels at capturing the atmosphere of that time, staying historically accurate and adding in his own twists and turns to keep the novel magical and lively.The superb writing style makes the novel even better as Oden adds such detail when it comes to describing the settings and the characters’ emotions. This is especially noted during the battle and war scenes as you can almost smell and see the darkness, the hate, and the cruelty that spreads throughout such scenes.Have we raved enough about this brilliant book? We'll wrap it up by discussing its intriguing plot which primarily focuses on Grimnir and Étaín's journey as the duo find themselves overcoming many obstacles that threaten to tear them apart. You'll also meet characters such as witches, spirits, dwarves, kings and ravens in the lead up to the final confrontation between Grimnir and his enemy, and this only fuels this fantasy world even more.Overall, this is a really well-written novel with a fantastic plot, group of characters and a magical fantasy world. A Gathering of Ravens is a must-read for historical fantasy lovers!
    more
  • Swords & Spectres
    July 1, 2017
    Originally reviewed at www.swordsandspectres.wordpress.comI received this book in return for an honest review.I had been excited to read ‘A Gathering of Ravens’ for months. When the chance to get my hands on it as an ARC came about, I nearly bit the publisher’s hand off to get my mitts on it.At first, I thought the book started off really well. I was immediately sucked into the simple yet daunting task our protagonists had of bringing the word of Jesus Christ to savage Danes. The first few chapt Originally reviewed at www.swordsandspectres.wordpress.comI received this book in return for an honest review.I had been excited to read ‘A Gathering of Ravens’ for months. When the chance to get my hands on it as an ARC came about, I nearly bit the publisher’s hand off to get my mitts on it.At first, I thought the book started off really well. I was immediately sucked into the simple yet daunting task our protagonists had of bringing the word of Jesus Christ to savage Danes. The first few chapters had me hooked, the world was immersive and felt very real. The author did such a fine job that I could almost hear the wind and rain lashing at the Danish countryside. I felt the promise of non-stop action told at a fast pace loomed tantalisingly ahead. After getting past those chapters I felt a tad let down. The tale seemed to slow from the pace I expected and it almost felt like the author was trying too hard in certain places as far as the fights and gore etc … went. In fact, at some points, it felt a little too fantastical.This feeling of unenthusiastic reading persisted for large parts of the first half of the book. It was broken up with smatterings of intrigue and great interest but it still lingered. I just felt like I was plodding along on a bit of a slow-burn. I then thought of Stephen King and how ALL of his books are like that. A slow-burn often leads to a dazzling pace in the latter half of the book. So I placed my faith in this thought and this thought alone.And my faith was well-founded and duly rewarded.Grimnir started off as a bit of a one-dimensional savage. In fairness, that’s about the only way he could have been painted to begin with. He is, after all, the last of his people (an orc of a type, no less!) and has been living in seclusion with nought but his burning rage for the vengeance of his slain brother to keep him company through the long centuries of his life.He develops throughout the book into one of the more interesting characters I have experienced in my time as a reader (and as an author). His character development is, obviously, a slow-moving thing, but it has to be. He has centuries of isolation and bitterness to overcome! His little Christian captive, Etain, whom is his chief target for enjoyment as far as ridicule goes (blasted hymn-singer, kneeler, worshipper of the Nailed God etc …) feels somewhat surplus to requirements as far as much of the first part of the book goes. I genuinely felt that she was simply there so that the author had a human viewpoint rather than the very alien viewpoint of Grimnir.My opinion changed when the second half of the book loomed. She fast became the catalyst for Grimnir’s shift in personality. His character development would not have happened had he not had his little hymn-singer by his side, doling out unwanted Christian teachings whenever he wanted to simply smash or kill his way through the next obstacle.The second half of the book certainly made me re-think my opinions on the first and had me smiling at the cleverness of it all. On the face of it, ‘A Gathering of Ravens’ is an epic Norse, Irish and English historical fiction with a HEAVY fantasy/myth undertone to it. But, on top of that, and perhaps more so than that, it is the tale of the revenge and almost rebirth of Grimnir. Throughout the whole work I just found myself enjoying his metamorphosis from who he was when he began his journey of revenge upon Bjarki Half-Dane (his brother’s murderer) and who he became after his saga had ended.I look forward to future works by Scott Oden and, with how A Gathering of Ravens ended, I wonder if we will see future adventures or, at the very least, future mention of Grimnir.
    more
  • Paul
    June 28, 2017
    Imagine learning the story of monster, like Grendel from the epic Beowulf, but the tale is told from Grendel’s perspective. Scott Oden’s latest, A Gathering of Ravens, does exactly that. While brother raises arms against brother, and factions vie for power across northern Europe, an unworldly creature stalks the land driven by a powerful need for revenge.Hate is a powerful emotion, and due to his all-consuming rage, Grimnir can probably be best described as an anti-hero. He is driven by a fundam Imagine learning the story of monster, like Grendel from the epic Beowulf, but the tale is told from Grendel’s perspective. Scott Oden’s latest, A Gathering of Ravens, does exactly that. While brother raises arms against brother, and factions vie for power across northern Europe, an unworldly creature stalks the land driven by a powerful need for revenge.Hate is a powerful emotion, and due to his all-consuming rage, Grimnir can probably be best described as an anti-hero. He is driven by a fundamental desire to crush his ancient enemy. It doesn’t matter how far away they are, or how many leagues he has to travel. He will go anywhere and do anything to get his revenge. Grimnir isn’t saddled with complications like a human sense of morality. He does what he wants, when he wants. Death follows in his wake. He is violent and is happy to kill whenever necessary. At first glance you might think Grimnir is a little one dimensional, but that is not the case. He is far more complex than that. There are layers to this character to uncover.Étaín, Grimnir’s companion under duress, could easily be viewed as the polar opposite of her captor. She is a follower of the White Christ, and views her unfortunate journey with Grimnir as a trial she needs to overcome. One of the things I liked most about this novel are the conversations between both characters. Initially, Grimnir is dismissive of Étaín’s every utterance, but as they travel further his attitude changes. I was going to say it softens, but that isn’t in Grimnir’s nature. Let’s say he is more accepting of the fact Étaín has a different point of view. The same can be said of the young Christian. She begins to appreciate that there are things in the world that can’t be explained away by her religion. Grimnir himself is proof positive that the old gods still hold some sway in the affairs of men.When it comes to the other characters there is no good or bad only shades of grey. The various lords, witches, dwarves, elves and kings that stand between Grimnir and his quarry are all seeking something. The quest for power pushes groups to form shaky alliances and personal allegiances shift like the turning of the tides. Everyone scrabbles about trying to grasp at as much as they possibly can. Greed is a huge motivating factor in a lot of the plans that are afoot. The power plays make most of the characters, with a couple of notably exceptions, come across as unpleasant. I rather like that. There is a brutal honesty about what drives them.The action in A Gathering of Ravens takes place in a time where the old traditions were making way for the new. This isn’t just the story of a battle between cultures from different lands, this is the story of The White Christ waging war on the Old Gods. The climax of the narrative is the battle of Chluain Tarbh. On the outskirts of Dublin, all the factions finally come together and Grimnir gets the opportunity to face his foe. The final chapters are particularly well handled as you get an ever-growing sense of tension that becomes almost unbearable, the calm before the inevitable storm of death and destruction.If you’ve read, and enjoyed, A Mighty Dawn by Theodore Brun or Swords of Good Men by Snorri Kristjansson then I’m sure you’ll enjoy A Gathering of Ravens. Nothing better than a bit of axe sharp historical fiction with a keen fantastical edge is there?
    more
  • Klara
    April 29, 2017
    5/5 Ribbons for this awesome book!“To the Danes, he is skraelingr; to the English, he is orcnéas; to the Irish, he is fomoraig. He is Corpse-maker and Life-quencher, the Bringer of Night, the Son of the Wolf and Brother of the Serpent. He is Grimnir, and he is the last of his kind―the last in a long line of monsters who have plagued humanity since the Elder Days.”A Gathering of Ravens is an awesome book about a lone Orc Grimnir! Odin manages to put Norse myth into a historical setting that will 5/5 Ribbons for this awesome book!“To the Danes, he is skraelingr; to the English, he is orcnéas; to the Irish, he is fomoraig. He is Corpse-maker and Life-quencher, the Bringer of Night, the Son of the Wolf and Brother of the Serpent. He is Grimnir, and he is the last of his kind―the last in a long line of monsters who have plagued humanity since the Elder Days.”A Gathering of Ravens is an awesome book about a lone Orc Grimnir! Odin manages to put Norse myth into a historical setting that will take your breath away and will leave you wanting more of it! Grimnir is determined to get his vengeance that is long past due and so he abducts a female soon-to-be christian priestess ( or at least she wants to be) and uses her as a guide. He is mean and brutal and complex. I love that he isn't just some mindless brute like the Orcs of other fantasy books.The story is full of old mythology, odd creatures, various religions battling for dominance and a world that you won't forget so easily. I really enjoyed that we're thrown into a time full of change and that everybody has to decide where they stand in this changing world. The writing style is easy to read and the characters are deep and extremely well-developed. I honestly don't want to spoiler you guys so my review will have to stay short! Let's just say that this book is confirmation enough that the fantasy genre is the best. The only thing that's so-so is the price of the book. I am a student so I know how hard it can be to buy an expensive book especially if you read as much as I do) but I would still recommend you to buy at least the ebook;)*I received this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
    more
Write a review