He goes by many names, in many cultures. Known as a skraelingr to the Danes, Grimnir is almost a type of demon. When awoken, he goes on a journey of revenge against the Dane who killed his brother, kidnapping a young, Christian as a guide.
Why this book?: The cover is gorgeous, and the summary NetGalley provided immediately caught my interest.
I would like to thank the people at Thomas Dunne Books for allowing me to have an ARC of this book via NetGalley.
I’ll be keeping this one short, mainly because I don’t want to waste much more of my time on it.
Oden 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 baiting
Another 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.
Final Rating: ★☆☆☆☆
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.
Note: I would also like to mention that after I posted this review to Goodreads, I was harassed with comments on both the Goodreads review, as well as anonymous comments on random posts here on my blog. Because of that, I set both Goodreads and my blog to only allow friends to comment/logged in users. The comments included both calling me “insane” and “crazy” as well as misgendering me. Please be careful when reviewing, everyone, especially this one.
Published: June 20th, 2017
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
Page Count: 320
Synopsis: via Goodreads
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?