Children of Ragnarok by Cinda Williams Chima (557 pages)
Children of Ragnarok has Two Gamins with Nothing to Lose
Eiric Halvorsen is lucky. His family is still thriving, even in a dangerous world without magic, both after effects of Ragnarok. He spends his time helping on the family farm and going on adventures. But his luck quickly changes when he’s convicted of killing his beloved mother and stepfather by a rigged jury. Eiric’s sister Liv is also under suspicion, mostly for her interest in magic. Eiric starts on a mission to a mythical temple in order to save himself and his sister.
Reggin Eiklund travels from town to town with her master and performs at his behest. Asger, a fire demon, is happy to keep Reggin under his ownership because of the money and renown she brings him. But when Reggin does something during a performance that impresses two magical members in the audience, she’s given an offer she cannot pass up. She agrees to travel to their temple to be trained to control her magic, freeing her from her oppressive master. Eiric and Reggin soon meet at the Temple at the Grove and quickly realizes that something dark lies beneath the glimmer of the city. The threat of war looms, even greater than that of Ragnarok, and they must work together against a ticking clock.
A Confident Dive into Norse Mythology
The first surprising aspect of this story is its commitment to Norse mythology, and in particular, the language. The story is full of Norse words and phrases that might have been off-putting to readers, but are carefully contextualized. The first time a new word appears, it’s placed carefully so you can quickly figure out its meaning, and is then used effectively throughout the story. The authentic language makes for a more immersive experience.
The story itself is a fruitful combination of high fantasy, intense stakes, and relatable emotions. Both Eiric and Reggin face situations that we likely will not, but those situations bring out emotions that are familiar to everyone. The desire for freedom, to protect your family, and to live in peace are important to all of us, even in our non-magical world. Also, because the book itself is fairly long, the story takes its time developing the characters and the setting, making for a more enchanting experience.
The Bottom Line: 4/5 stars
Children of Ragnarok is ambitious, and overall, it delivers. Even given its length, the story doesn’t really lull, even when it gives respite from the more intense scenes. The characters are fully realized, something that’s helped greatly by the multiple point of view structure. Once we learn about each character separately, we get to fill their personalities out as they react to each other. For those interested in magic, myth, and twisty mysteries, this book should be an easy buy.
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Rachel Gomes is a 30-something high school English teacher who lives with her high school sweetheart-turned-husband and their son. Rachel is a voracious reader who loves to learn and has her doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction. She’s happiest listening to podcasts and talking to friends about the latest news in nerd culture.
Favourite book: Don’t make me choose between A Song of Ice and Fire and Harry Potter
Favourite brunch spot: The Farmer’s Table