The Ravens of Odin by Alexander Ness and Edmund Quinby (Illustrator)

Book Description

A poet with a history background and an artist with a love of the subject matter create words and images that remember the savage history of the Vikings.

Drawn from history, from accounts such as The Sagas of Icelanders, the Vikings are remembered for more than discovery, more than savagery, but as a culture who worshiped their Gods, went to sea for discovery and war, and have caused present age readers to marvel at their courage.

My Review

I absolutely loved reading this book of Norse mythology focused poetry. Initially, I was a bit worried it might not be to my taste since it was immediately apparent that the style was not typically lyrical. However, after a while I started to hear a meter within the poems. I don’t know if it was subtly there (I didn’t go back and count out), or if it simply started to happen that I heard the words come through like musical rumbling chants, stories told by old Vikings sitting around a fire.

As someone who studies and writes about Norse myths, I was so happy to see not only the mentions of the expected Gods, but to see references to Valkyries and Berserkers. It was even more impressive to me that the author took the time to actually bring you into the time period, making references to historical figures and battles that anchor these tales firmly in reality.

This volume contains 50 poems, numbered not titled, and I found it pleasing in a way that they counted down rather than up – a little thing, probably unimportant, but different. A few examples of some of my favorite lines in here:

#45: “We feast to remember
We drink to forget”
(PS: This phrase absolutely needs to have its own merch line!)

#38: “In ocean ice
Our flesh will be gray
Our breath will end
Frozen tears will not fall
Frozen prayers will not send”

#37: “A child of Odin
A warrior chosen
Birthed to a new world
Baptized by the blood
Of the old”

Beyond those, I would say my favorites were #47, #44, #27, and #17… although it’s hard to narrow the focus because so many excelled at the way they told a tale.

I don’t want to leave this without mentioning the illustrations. There are some very nice drawings in this but I really wish I’d been able to see them better than I could on my kindle version. It took me a while to figure out that I actually had to zoom in to see them. Lovely artwork, looks like pencil graphite with some digital adaptation. I was highly impressed by the smoothness of the tones in the work, and the rendering of #4, #10, and #39 were my favorites.

Beautifully done, hard for me to describe, but definitely worth your time if you enjoy anything that comes out of the world of the Vikings.

Book Details

Title: The Ravens of Odin
Author: Alexander Ness, Edmund Quinby (Illustrator)
My Rating: 5/5 Stars
Published: February 14th 2013
Where: If you’d like to find out where the book is sold, please check Goodreads.

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