Fans of Neil Gaiman, Holly Black, and Maggie Stiefvater will embrace the richly drawn, Norse-influenced alternate world of the United States of Asgard, where cell phones, rock bands, and evangelical preachers coexist with dragon slaying, rune casting, and sword training in schools. Where the president runs the country alongside a council of Valkyries, gods walk the red carpet with Hollywood starlets, and the U.S. military has a special battalion dedicated to eradicating Rocky Mountain trolls.
Signy Valborn was seven years old when she climbed the New World Tree and met Odin Alfather, who declared that if she could solve a single riddle, he would make her one of his Valkyrie. For ten years Signy has trained in the arts of war, politics, and leadership, never dreaming that a Greater Mountain Troll might hold the answer to the riddle, but that’s exactly what Ned the Spiritless promises her. A mysterious troll hunter who talks in riddles and ancient poetry, Ned is a hard man to trust. Unfortunately, Signy is running out of time. Accompanied by an outcast berserker named Soren Bearstar, she and Ned take off across the ice sheets of Canadia to hunt the mother of trolls and claim Signy’s destiny.
First things first: this is a trilogy where each book has its own protagonist and an interweaving story. The first part is fairly obvious. The second, not so much. This story appears to be set in the same world, only half-way through the book do you realize the story was taking place before only to suddenly catch up to the start of the first book before going on and dealing with the after-effects. It’s just kind of strange and perhaps could have been handled a bit clearer.
That out of the way, a lot of what was enjoyable from the first book remains here: the world is still a fantastic bland of modern America and Nordic traditions, the characters remain likable, and the story does get poignant enough in parts that it actually made me cry. There’s a nice romance too between Signy and Ned the Spiritless.
So why then am I not quite satisfied?
It’s the ending. Like the first book, this too is about the Gods meddling with the lives of mortals, but where was the first book it really felt like outside influence, this felt much more direct which isn’t supposed to be what they can do and when the story wraps up, it just kind of feels like “Okay?” It does apparently tie into the third book, but it’s not necessarily a compelling hook that makes you go “I want to know what happens next!”
So while I happy to have read the book, I still leave feeling underwhelmed and debating if I even want to bother with the third, which does make me kind of sad.
Verdict: Borrow It