Northern Wrath has everything you could want from a Viking novel – dark, gritty, visceral, and firmly rooted in Norse mythology. The characters are intriguing, the plot even more so, but it’s the atmosphere that makes this. At every turn, you feel like you’ve been enveloped in the harsh, unyielding world of the Vikings.
There are many point of view characters – possibly too many, although it’s always very clear which character is being followed – but the most important seem to be Hilda, Einer, and Siv. Hilda is the daughter of Ragnar, the storyteller of Ash-hill, who cannot raid with the other Vikings due to a leg wound suffered in his youth. Hilda wants nothing more than to be a warrior, going on raids and fighting so she can ascend to Valhalla – but her father wants her safe, and the chief has promised that Hilda will never be allowed to raid. Determined not to let that stop her, Hilda takes control of her own fate – with huge consequences. Her ending of this book was incredible and I’m excited to see what happens next.
Einer is the son of the chief, and everyone expects him to be chief after his father. A strong but fair man, he loves Hilda and can’t understand why she keeps refusing to be with him. He also has a secret – a secret which would damage his future forever – that must be kept. Thilde Kold Holdt does a great job making you care for her characters, and no-one shows this better than Einer – he comes across as a lovely, gentle giant, despite being a Viking who regularly kills people.
Siv is Einer’s mother. She has lived in Ash-hill for some time, but it is not her place of origin. If Einer has a secret, Siv has a large box full of particularly angry secrets all desperate to get free and be heard. Her road is very different to Einer and Hilda’s, and she provided a very different perspective. Her relationship with Tyra was heartwarming – Siv was another caring yet deadly character, with deadly somewhat of an understatement.
The other major characters I expect will play a larger role in sequels. Buntrugg is intriguing, especially in the latter half of the book, and I’m interested to see the repercussions of his actions in the sequel. Ragnar has an entirely separate character arc, the meaning of which was not revealed here. His parts are enjoyable, but without any sort of conclusion they almost seem like side notes. Finn is an unlikeable character, but his perspectives spark pity – likely the intent. Sigismund is very wise, and whilst his perspectives add little, he has a lovely relationship with Einer – he’s another character who I think has bigger things to come.
The main issue with this book is that it feels less like a complete novel and more like a part one. It ends with no conclusion and more questions. It would have been nice to have had a more solid ending – after seven hundred pages, the reader deserves some sort of payoff. Nonetheless, this is an excellent story and probably the best Viking or Norse mythology novel I have ever read.
Overall, I highly recommend for fans of Norse mythology and the Vikings. If you’re looking for a gritty epic fantasy with huge scope and excellent worldbuilding, you’ll find it here. I’ll be eagerly looking forward to the next installment – hopefully one with some answers.
Published by Rebellion
Paperback: 27th October 2020