Book Review: The Aeronaut’s Windlass by Jim Butcher

Name: The Aeronaut’s Windlass
Author:
Jim Butcher
Number of Pages:
630 (Paperback)
Published:
29th September 2015 by Orbit
Genre: Fantasy

Goodreads

Jim Butcher, the number one bestselling author of the Dresden Files, begins a new series set in a gloriously imagined world of noble families, marvellous technology and magic-wielding warriors.
Since time immemorial, humanity has lived inside the Spires, habitats towering for miles over the dangerous, monster-infested surface of the world. Captain Grimm of the merchant airship Predator was dismissed from Spire Albion’s military in disgrace – now his ship and crew are all he has, and he’s fiercely loyal to both. When the Predator is severely damaged in combat, Grimm is offered a choice – take on a clandestine mission for Albion’s leaders, or stay grounded for good.
And even as Grimm undertakes this perilous task, he will learn that the conflict between the Spires is merely a premonition of things to come. Humanity’s ancient enemy, silent for more than ten thousand years, has begun to stir once more. And death will follow in its wake…     – from Goodreads

My Rating:

My Thoughts:

I’ve been sitting here for a while now, looking at a blank screen wondering, how on earth do I review this book? Where to start? There’s so much to say.

The story takes place around Spire Albion, and delivers action right from the first page.
People have lived on spires for years, since the surface became uninhabitable. The spires have several Habbles, and Habble Morning comes under attack from the forces of Spire Aurora, a rival Spire. The attack is planned with precision, which leads to the belief that an enemy may be within.
And so the Spirearch of Albion assembles a group to venture out to Habble Landing to try and find out more about the enemy.

The group at the heart of this story is an interesting mix.

Captain Grimm finds himself grounded after a skirmish with an enemy ship. Predator, his airship, needs vast amounts of repair, more costly than Grimm could possibly afford, so he finds himself with little choice than to accept the mission of the Spirearch, who offers to replace the power crystals that Predator so desperately needs.
Grimm is reluctant as he has a history with the Fleet that saw him discharged for cowardice. There’s clearly more to it, but Grimm doesn’t talk about his past, and doesn’t particularly want to get involved with serving again. He’s enjoyed his freedom as a privateer. Once he accepts the mission however, he’s fully on board, and willingly joins battle to protect those he is travelling with. These characters include…

Gwendolyn Lancaster, the only daughter of one of the most powerful Houses, who wants to join the Spirearch’s Guard. She’s pretty no-nonsense, and the type to shoot first and consider the consequences later. She’s proper and ladylike but doesn’t back away from a challenge or a fight, regardless who the opponent is.

Benedict Sorellin-Lancaster is Gwen’s Warriorborn cousin. The Warriorborn are great,  slightly feline in appearance (they have catlike eyes) and with great strength and agility. Benedict is a little older and more experienced in working for the Guard, and accompanies the group to Habble Landing in order to protect Master Ferus.

Ferus is an etherealist, and some say he is half-mad, but he’s also highly perceptive of the world around him and the nature of the Enemy, even if he does have great trouble with doorknobs. He has an apprentice, Folly, a young girl learning her skills and powers. Folly is charmingly odd, talking to her small jars of crystals rather than directly to other people. I loved her quirkiness and when her powers start to show, well, you wouldn’t want to mess with young Folly. She is also apparently able to glimpse future events, which is scary as her dreams show great destruction.
The etherealists have great powers, which some choose to use for less than honourable purposes whilst maintaining a highly respectable and socially graceful façade.

Also part of the team who travel to Habble Landing is Bridget Tagwynn, a young woman who reluctantly leaves her father behind in order to serve, and initially has little wish to go. She is mentored by Benedict and the two of them become close.
And I cannot mention Bridget with out mentioning…

Rowl. A cat. A… talking cat.
I was totally charmed by Rowl of House Silent Paws, who even has viewpoint chapters and clearly regards himself and the whole of cat-kind as far more intelligent and brave than any human. He calls Bridget ‘Littlemouse’, and they converse together as Bridget can speak Cat. For all the conflict between the humans, there is equally as much going on in the cat world.

I love the mix in this story. Airships of the Fleet go to war with cannons and muskets, which feels quite historical, but then there are crystals of power loaded into the weapons cannons, shrouds to shield the ships from enemy fire, ethersilk armour, and gauntlets containing crystals with destructive power.

There’s scheming and intrigue, and threats from both humans and creatures, as things from the surface are apparently finding their way into the spire. A silkweaver sounds like an innocent little thing, right? Um, possibly not…
The villain here really is something of a smiling assassin, and there are also greater powers at work, which I hope will be revealed a little more in further books.
I’ll definitely be looking out for the next Cinder Spires book.

Book Review: Sins of Empire by Brian McClellan

Name: Sins of Empire
Author:
Brian McClellan
Number of Pages:
604 (Paperback)
Published:
9th March 2017 by Orbit
Genre: Epic Fantasy

Goodreads

An epic new fantasy series from Brian McClellan, set in the same world as his wildly popular Powder Mage trilogy.
The young nation of Fatrasta is a turbulent place – a frontier destination for criminals, fortune-hunters, brave settlers, and sorcerers seeking relics of the past. Only the iron will of the lady chancellor and her secret police holds the capital city of Landfall together against the unrest of a suppressed population and the machinations of powerful empires.
The insurrection that threatens Landfall must be purged with wile and force, a task which falls on the shoulders of a spy named Michel Bravis, convicted war hero Ben Styke, and Lady Vlora Flint, a mercenary general with a past as turbulent as Landfall’s present.
As loyalties are tested, revealed, and destroyed, a grim specter as old as time has been unearthed in this wild land, and the people of Landfall will soon discover that rebellion is the least of their worries.     – from Goodreads

My Rating:

My Thoughts:

If you’re visited my blog recently you probably saw my review of The Autumn Republic, the final book in Brian McClellan’s Powder Mage trilogy. I loved those books, so there was absolutely no doubt that I would have to read Sins of Empire. It is, after all, set in the same world I came to love over the course of the Powder Mage trilogy.

But, it’s a totally different part of that world. There are some great maps at the start of the book (I love a good map or two), so it’s clear to see that the action this time has moved across a vast sea to the land of Fatrasta. Events are set around ten years later too. I mention this as a character from Powder Mage has one of the main narratives in this tale.

Vlora takes centre stage here, having maintained a military career and become head of the Riflejack Mercenary Company, alongside Colonel Olem. She is now Lady Vlora Flint, and after sorting out trouble in the Frontier land, Vlora finds her company called back to the city of Landfall to deal with the problem of Mama Palo, an unknown figure inspiring the local Palo population to rise in rebellion against the Lady Chancellor’s rule. Their mission will take them into Greenfire Depths in search of this enigmatic figure.

There are two other main characters and my only problem is deciding which one I like more.

Colonel Ben Styke, or Mad Ben Styke as legend calls him, or Convict 10642 (as soon as I saw that I thought of Jean Valjean from Les Miserables) is a war hero but also apparent war criminal who has been presumed dead for the last ten years. He has, in fact, been imprisoned in a labour camp, from which someone is determined he should not be released. Someone else has other ideas, and Styke finds himself out in the world again, with a young girl named Celine in his care after her own father died in the labour camp. (I can’t help but see Valjean and Cosette in this, although I doubt Cosette ever went thieving at the local market, but you never know).
Styke is fierce, and hard to kill, having faced a firing squad and survived. He’s not a man to cross, and his devotion to young Celine is great.
Hired by the enigmatic lawyer Tampo, Styke presents himself to General Flint to gain a place in the Riflejacks, although he doesn’t know why Tampo wants him there.
Styke has a score to settle with Fidelis Jes, the Grand Master of the Fatrastan police force, a formidable figure who has a standing invitation for morning duels with any willing opponent.

Then there’s Michel Bravis, a member of the Fatrastan secret police, the Blackhats. Bland and forgettable by design, Michel adapts to his surroundings, picking up information and using this to further his career within the government. Michel is a Silver Rose, a middle ranking position, but when an opportunity presents itself to attain his Gold Rose, and earn more money to help support his mother, he goes for the chance, despite fearing the task may prove near impossible. He is to track down the source of a pamphlet, Sins of Empire, which criticises the Lady Chancellor and her government of Fatrasta.

There are other schemes at work in Fatrastra, and other players and possible enemies who come to light along the way. Ancient artefacts with the power to cause madness, lethal fighters known as Dragonmen, and the Dynize, a powerful and mysterious nation who haven’t left their home nation for hundreds of years are rumoured to be around. There’s so much going on, and the story grabs you right from the prologue, during which a powerful artefact is unearthed.

Sins of Empire is engrossing from the very first page, and every bit as good as the Powder Mage books. Even without the presence of Field Marshall Tamas, who I loved, there are plenty of complex, fascinating characters, and the story gets going quickly, providing enough introduction to the magic and the world for new readers, without becoming repetitive for anyone who has read McClellan’s books before.
There are some great surprises along the way, and plenty of twists and revelations which I never saw coming. The battle scenes and confrontations between certain characters are as exciting as ever.

If you asked me to choose a favourite now between this story and the Powder Mage books I would find it tough. In fact, it’s something you’d have to give me time to think about, because I honestly couldn’t choose. One thing I do know, I’ll definitely be back for the next instalment in this great new series.

Book Review: The Autumn Republic by Brian McClellan

Name: The Autumn Republic
Author:
Brian McClellan
Number of Pages:
577 (Paperback)
Published:
5th January 2016 by Orbit
Genre: Epic Fantasy

Goodreads

The capital has fallen…
Field Marshal Tamas returns to his beloved country to find that for the first time in history, the capital city of Adro lies in the hands of a foreign invader. His son is missing, his allies are indistinguishable from his foes, and reinforcements are several weeks away.
An army divided…
With the Kez still bearing down upon them and without clear leadership, the Adran army has turned against itself. Inspector Adamat is drawn into the very heart of this new mutiny with promises of finding his kidnapped son.
All hope rests with one…
And Taniel Two-shot, hunted by men he once thought his friends, must safeguard the only chance Adro has of getting through this war without being destroyed…
THE AUTUMN REPUBLIC is the epic conclusion that began with Promise of Blood and The Crimson Campaign.     – from Goodreads

My Rating:

My Thoughts:

I enjoyed the Powder Mage books right from the first page of Promise of Blood, so I was looking forward to starting the final book of the trilogy, although I wanted to read slowly as I knew it was the last time I would be with these characters and I had that feeling of ‘are my favourite characters going to make it through this alive?’.
As this is the final book in the series I don’t know if I’ll make it through my review without giving spoilers from previous books.

The Autumn Republic is a great conclusion to an exciting trilogy.
Events pick up right after the conclusion of The Crimson Campaign. Adro is still facing unrest, and Lord Claremonte, with the backing and might of his Brudanian Trading Company, is residing in Adopest. The Kez are still a threat and the war isn’t completely over. So, there’s plenty going on right from the start.

There are battles, betrayals, schemes and plots. The magic is as brilliant as ever, especially as seen through Nila, the young woman who started out as a laundress and is now on track to become one of the most powerful Privileged ever. I loved reading her experiences as she learns to wield her greatest strength, a deadly fire capable of massive destruction.
I enjoyed reading of her friendship with Bo, who becomes her mentor as she tries to channel her powers. Nila and Bo take quite a central role in this book, and became new favourites for me.

Elsewhere Adamat, having made an awful discovery about his missing son, decides to keep out of the action to keep his family safe, but it’s not long before he’s drawn back into things as he tries to assist his friend Ricard Tumblar in his campaign to become First Minister of Adro.
It’s a dangerous campaign as other people have their sights on that post too, and Adamat and Fell become involved in an investigation to discover the identity of an unknown enemy.
I really like Fell. She’s quite mysterious, always there at the centre of the fighting, more than capable of taking down any threat before her. I’d love a whole book devoted to her back story, and how she came to be such an efficient assistant/bodyguard/assassin.
I also loved Adamat’s plot; as a contrast to the fighting on the battlefield there’s scheming of a more shadowy nature, and the variation made this a great read.

And of course, at the heart of this whole long-running war is Field Marshall Tamas. I liked him from the outset and nothing changed throughout the trilogy. He was the main character I really hoped would survive the trilogy. I’m not giving anything away about where his dream to form a republic will lead him. He’s a character I won’t forget for a while.
He is driven and determined, willing to tackle any enemy to reclaim his lands and see his dream realised. He may be the ‘old man’, but that won’t stop him doing what needs to be done. He leads his men into battle, even when his closest allies implore him to stay back. He’s a real leader.

Taniel, Ka-Poel, Olem and Vlora all feature in this final book too, and there are revelations about certain other characters. One in particular was a wonderful surprise.
As a minor character, I loved General Arbor, the old guy who kept taking out his false teeth when he was talking to Tamas. Such a random detail but it was funny – during such perilous times this old battler just goes about his business minus his false teeth.

The ending… well, I can’t say too much and risk spoiling a wonderful conclusion, so I’ll just say the action built up to a wonderful final battle and I may have shed a tear or two at certain moments. That’s all…

So, it looks like it’s time for me to stop writing about the Powder Mages and their great story, but it’s not time to leave this world behind entirely. My next read is going to be Sins of Empire, which I believe takes place in this same world and features some characters from this series. I really can’t wait to get started, because if it’s as good as this book then I’m in for a real treat.

If you’ve not read Promise of Blood, The Crimson Campaign and The Autumn Republic then you’re in for a great experience should you pick these books up. The series has a lot to offer and I definitely recommend it.

Book Review: Uprooted by Naomi Novik

Name: Uprooted
Author:
Naomi Novik
Number of Pages:
448 (Paperback)
Published:
12th May 2016 by Pan Macmillan
Genre: Fantasy

Goodreads

Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life. Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood. The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows – everyone knows – that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia, all the things Agnieszka isn’t, and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her. But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose.     – from Goodreads

My Rating:

4halfdiamonds

My Thoughts:

Just like Uprooted heroine Agnieszka, at the moment I feel as though I’m emerging from a deep, dark forest, but actually it’s a place I don’t want to leave. I’ve finished reading a great story and I need to tell you about it.

Agnieszka lives in the valley. The people are protected by a wizard known as the Dragon, but there is a price; he takes a valley girl into his service for ten years. No one knows exactly why, or what happens at the Dragon’s tower, but the girls are changed, and always leave their beloved valley behind once their ten years is up.
Agnieszka fears her best friend Kasia will be taken, but it will come as no surprise  that this isn’t what happens at all, and Kasia meets a very different fate while Agnieszka is chosen to go with the Dragon.

I became invested in this story almost from the first moment. The way it’s written and the atmosphere it creates hits just the right tone for a great read – a determined young woman, a mysterious wizard with untold powers, an almost fairytale setting in the Dragon’s tower, and more magic than you could wish for.  The magic is quite unusual, and I loved the descriptions of the way Agnieszka and the Dragon wove their different varieties of magic together.

This doesn’t usually happen for me when reading, but from the very first moment Agnieszka literally fell into the Dragon’s arms I really wanted them to get together. He was just so rattled by her presence, she put him off guard and I loved the dynamic between them. It’s definitely a slow burn, and starts out as more of a love/hate type situation.

The world building is wonderful, from the tower to the menacing darkness of the all-consuming Wood, a place literally alive with an evil that stretches way beyond the boundary of the Wood itself; sometimes it sends the people it has taken back out into the real world, looking perfectly normal, but hiding the deep corruption which ends in devastating consequences.
The Wood creeps over the land, enveloping villages and people, there is nothing it won’t claim, and that makes the force driving the Wood a formidable enemy for Agnieszka and the Dragon.

Uprooted features a great cast of characters, but to reveal too much would be to spoil the surprises in store if you read this book, so I’ll just say you definitely won’t be disappointed.  A wonderful mix of magic, fantasy, romance, Uprooted was a great read, and I would love to find out there’s going to be a sequel.

Book Review: Hold Back the Stars by Katie Khan

Name:  Hold Back the Stars
Author:  
Katie Khan
Number of Pages:
  304 (Hardback)
Published:
26th January 2017 by Doubleday
Genre:  Sci-fi, Romance

Goodreads

Carys and Max have ninety minutes of air left.
None of this was supposed to happen.
But perhaps this doesn’t need to be the end…
Adrift in space with nothing to hold on to but each other, Carys and Max can’t help but look back at the well-ordered world they have left behind – at the rules they couldn’t reconcile themselves to, and a life to which they might now never return.
For in a world where love is banned, what happens when you find it? – from Goodreads

My Rating:

4ddiamonds

My Thoughts:

What a setting!
Hold Back the Stars opens on Max and Carys adrift in the vast endlessness of space, having come adrift from their ship, the Laertes, after an accident. They have no way to get back to the ship, which is damaged anyway, and they soon discover that they have under-filled and leaking air canisters.
What does all this mean?
They’re stranded; no way back home, no hope of help, and in 90 minutes their air supply will be gone.
During that time they will hope for rescue, make attempts to save themselves, and spend their last moments finding comfort in having each other there so neither of them are alone.

The narrative moves between the perilous situation Max and Carys find themselves in, and their initial meeting in daily life. We see their relationship develop despite the rules of their society saying it shouldn’t happen.

It’s Earth, but not quite as we know it. Parts of the world have been decimated by war.
Europia is a utopian society, where emphasis is firmly on Individualism. Every action is completed ‘in your own name’. Such is the desire to keep this way of life going that people live in Rotation; moving around from place to place every few years, never settling, and leaving family behind as each person goes their own way, contributing their all to society.
Distractions or deep connections/romantic relationships are actively discouraged until people reach an age of at least 35. As Max’s friend Liu remarks, “freedom when you’re young, family when you’re old”.

That’s all well and good, but what happens if you do meet someone who’s more than just the usual transient crowd, but you cannot be together because you’re almost a decade too early to meet the Couples Rule?
And what happens when you decide to challenge convention because that person is worth the risk? Read this book to find out.

There’s a great tension that mounts as time steadily ticks down for Max and Carys, and I read on wanting them to beat the seemingly hopeless situation of being stranded in space. I really wanted both of them to make it out alive because they’re both likeable characters, who risked so much to be together.

I don’t tend to read much romance, but the combination here with a sci-fi/futuristic theme worked really well and I found myself immersed in the story and wanting to get back to it when real life took over for a while.
Hold Back the Stars was an enjoyable read and there was a Q & A section at the end in which the author mentions working on a new book, so I’ll look out for that in future.

 

Book Review: The Fireman by Joe Hill

Name:  The Fireman
Author:  
Joe Hill
Number of Pages:
  768 (Hardback)
Published:
7th June 2016 by Gollancz
Genre:  Post Apocaplyse

Goodreads

No one knows exactly when it began or where it originated. A terrifying new plague is spreading like wildfire across the country, striking cities one by one: Boston, Detroit, Seattle. The doctors call it Draco Incendia Trychophyton. To everyone else it’s Dragonscale, a highly contagious, deadly spore that marks its hosts with beautiful black and gold marks across their bodies—before causing them to burst into flames. Millions are infected; blazes erupt everywhere. There is no antidote. No one is safe.
Harper Grayson, a compassionate, dedicated nurse as pragmatic as Mary Poppins, treated hundreds of infected patients before her hospital burned to the ground. Now she’s discovered the telltale gold-flecked marks on her skin. When the outbreak first began, she and her husband, Jakob, had made a pact: they would take matters into their own hands if they became infected. To Jakob’s dismay, Harper wants to live—at least until the fetus she is carrying comes to term. At the hospital, she witnessed infected mothers give birth to healthy babies and believes hers will be fine too. . . if she can live long enough to deliver the child.
Convinced that his do-gooding wife has made him sick, Jakob becomes unhinged, and eventually abandons her as their placid New England community collapses in terror. The chaos gives rise to ruthless Cremation Squads—armed, self-appointed posses roaming the streets and woods to exterminate those who they believe carry the spore. But Harper isn’t as alone as she fears: a mysterious and compelling stranger she briefly met at the hospital, a man in a dirty yellow fire fighter’s jacket, carrying a hooked iron bar, straddles the abyss between insanity and death. Known as The Fireman, he strolls the ruins of New Hampshire, a madman afflicted with Dragonscale who has learned to control the fire within himself, using it as a shield to protect the hunted . . . and as a weapon to avenge the wronged.
In the desperate season to come, as the world burns out of control, Harper must learn the Fireman’s secrets before her life—and that of her unborn child—goes up in smoke. – from Goodreads

My Rating:

4ddiamonds

My Thoughts:

 

The Fireman is a great end of the world tale with an imaginative cause at it’s heart – Dragonscale. It’s a spore which eventually causes the carrier to burst into flame, burning down to ash and taking out life as we know it as they do so. People are afraid, and understandably so, but that doesn’t help, as stress and fear only seem to cause the ‘scale to ignite more rapidly. The world is literally burning.

In this grim scenario we follow Harper Grayson, a nurse who discovers she is pregnant almost at the same time that she discovers the first telltale inky markings on her body that mean she is infected with Dragonscale. To say her husband doesn’t react well to any of this news is an understatement, and I can’t recall the last time I disliked a character so much and so quickly as I did with Jakob Grayson.

Fleeing her home and her increasingly deranged husband, Harper finds the Fireman, and a group of survivors who have apparently learned to control the Dragonscale. She goes to Camp Wyndham, a supposedly safe haven for those afflicted with the spore.
CampWyndham harbours all manner of characters, some good, some not so good, and the story follows the group dynamics and power plays amongst this relatively small group of people drawn together at an awful time. The increasing paranoia of some of the members, the lengths they go to to establish control, and the group mentality that allows certain things to happen makes for great and sometimes claustrophobic reading.
Needless to say, in the end the ‘perfect’ sanctuary starts to fall apart from within, and with Harper ever nearer to giving birth, it becomes apparent Camp Wyndham may not be her long-time home. Fear and suspicion drive the group to break into factions, and that’s not the only threat to their safety.

There are some great characters in this book, and the Dragonscale itself becomes something more than just the spore that will end humanity as we meet the Fireman, who has apparently mastered control of the fire that could burn him alive at any moment. He has some impressive tricks thanks to the ‘scale, and is the first to admit he loves to be the centre of attention, so expect fireworks.
Nick and Allie are the Fireman’s accomplices when he first meets Harper, and I liked both of them, especially young Nick, the deaf boy who becomes a good friend to Harper.
On the side of the villains is Harper’s husband Jakob. It must be a sign of good writing that I loathed him within a very few pages of his appearance. Then there’s the Marlboro Man, who takes great delight and pleasure in hunting down people affected with Dragonscale, whom he calls ‘burners’.
Others fall into a more grey area, such as Carol Storey and Ben Patchett, two of the main players at Camp Wyndham.

This is the first Joe Hill I’ve ever read, and I would definitely seek out other stories by this author, and look out for future releases.

Book Review: Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

Name:  Norse Mythology
Author:  
Neil Gaiman
Number of Pages:
  299 (Hardback)
Published:
7th February 2017 by W. W. Norton & Company
Genre:  Fantasy, Mythology

Goodreads

In Norse Mythology, Gaiman stays true to the myths in envisioning the major Norse pantheon: Odin, the highest of the high, wise, daring, and cunning; Thor, Odin’s son, incredibly strong yet not the wisest of gods; and Loki, son of a giant, blood brother to Odin and a trickster and unsurpassable manipulator.
Gaiman fashions these primeval stories into a novelistic arc that begins with the genesis of the legendary nine worlds and delves into the exploits of deities, dwarfs, and giants. Once, when Thor’s hammer is stolen, Thor must disguise himself as a woman, difficult with his beard and huge appetite, to steal it back. More poignant is the tale in which the blood of Kvasir, the most sagacious of gods, is turned into a mead that infuses drinkers with poetry. The work culminates in Ragnarok, the twilight of the gods and rebirth of a new time and people.
Through Gaiman’s deft and witty prose emerge these gods with their fiercely competitive natures, their susceptibility to being duped and to duping others, and their tendency to let passion ignite their actions, making these long-ago myths breathe pungent life again. – Goodreads

My Rating:

4ddiamonds

My Thoughts:

Norse Mythology is a collection of short stories featuring characters already familiar through various means, whether other books or recent movies and tv series. Familiar characters include Odin, Thor and Loki.
I was pretty much hooked from the outset after reading the introduction in which Gaiman imagines a long ago time when these stories were told ‘under the glow of the Northern Lights’ during a winter night, or ‘sitting outside in the small hours, awake in the unending daylight of midsummer.’ Such descriptions set the tone right away.
The writing is conversational and draws you in easily, making the subject really interesting and adding humour too.

I’ve only a passing knowledge of the tales featured here, so I found the whole collection really interesting. Particularly fascinating is Ragnarok, the final destiny of the gods. What a tale is told of that final battle to come, in which the gods fight the armies of the dead. Loki and his monstrous children fight on the opposing side to Odin, Thor and the rest, which I guess shouldn’t have been that much of a surprise. And when it’s all over the cycle of life will begin again.

I really liked Loki as a character; he usually features at the heart of many troubles that visit the gods. He eventually resolves many of these situations, but he also usually has something to do with causing the trouble in the first place.
I also liked the children of Loki. Hel is the girl with a face of beauty and death who comes to preside over the dead who have not died gloriously in battle. There’s also the Midgard Serpent, with whom Thor with eventually do battle, and Fenrir the wolf, who will be there at the end of days. I could have read a whole collection featuring those characters, and their mother, the giantess Angrboda.

There are tales of love and hate, deception and competition, power, magic and monsters. Something for everyone, I think, and I enjoyed learning something of a mythology I knew just a little about.
I really enjoyed my first read by Neil Gaiman and am going to read more of his books in the future.