Jen reviews The Valkyrie of Vanaheim, Phil Parker‘s Norse-inspired fantasy novel.
Thank you goes out to Phil Parker for the ecopy in exchange for a review!
|Series: –||Genre: contemporary/modern fantasy|
|Date of Publishing: September 25, 2021||Trigger Warnings: death/war crimes/experimentations|
|Page count: 291||Publisher: self-published|
Frida Ransom has a secret, she is a human/fae hybrid. A lonely one too. As a child, Frida’s mother made sure they lived a solitary existence so no one would discover the truth. The woman’s unexpected death, and a decade-long war with the fae, increased the girl’s isolation.
Now, with the war over, humanity and the fae must cooperate to overcome new challenges. Except factions on both sides of the inter-dimensional portals oppose this collaboration. A new dimension has been found, one humanity could colonise.
A mission to reconnoitre this new world takes shape and Frida finds herself included on the team. Her problems deepen when factions of humanity and fae try to prevent the mission. A sequence of events shine a spotlight on Frida and her family heritage. For this eighteen-year-old young woman, its attention which threatens her sanity and places her in danger.
Beyond the spotlight, waiting in the darkness of their destination, something malevolent and cunning awaits. It needs Frida to fulfil its plans. Which, if successful, threatens the existence of humanity and the fae.
“Lorcan aligned the final crystal on its copper-plated platform and the portal came to life. Its beauty caused the hardest of soldiers to coo and gasp. A jade green waterfall tumbled from its keystone to ground itself in the rock at their feet. It fizzed and sparkled, a semi-translucent curtain of pure energy. If there had ever been an argument that the fae performed magic, this was it.”
Foo Fighters – Times Like These
Phil Parker’s newest story The Valkyrie of Vanaheim is a non-stop thrill-ride. I was not expecting that at all. I had read Bastards of Fairyland quite a few years ago and while I do recall it kept the pace up, it was a multi-POV with a fair number of characters /relationships, world, and politics to establish. The Valkyrie of Vanaheim takes place in that same world but as it’s a single POV – Frida’s, it allows the story to kick into high gear.
In a world that has no tolerance towards either side of her heritage Frida, a fae-human hybrid doesn’t really fit in either place. She has had a lonely upbringing, with no friends or even family, to whom she can turn to. Frida tries to keep her fae-gifts hidden and not call attention to herself but that becomes impossible when an expedition she is a part of is attacked multiple times and she has to use her gifts to save herself and others.
This world is one of the most interesting worlds I’ve found in a modern fantasy setting. It’s a here-and-now world but one where we regulated the Fae legends into folktales and were completely gobsmacked when they returned through an interdimensional door, ready for war. Unprepared, we fared badly. Now, after decades of war, there is tentative peace between the two races. But the world’s cities have become the equivalent of refugee camps and there are shortages of everything. Survival is about all anyone can manage.
The portals eventually were used by the powers that be, for other things – like looking for other worlds in better shape than ours has become. It’s a bit of a crap-shoot because they never know what’s going to be on the other side or what kind of monster will come through. As a huge Stargate fan, I really enjoyed everything to do with the portals and I love the way Phil Parker fused the Norse myths and the Nine realms into the Fae mythology (among others) making it into a workable world idea that makes sense. (Also, makes you wonder if he doesn’t have something going on here… hmm)
The Valkyrie of Vanaheim is action-packed and fun out the eyeballs, with lots of battles and cool creatures. But the action is tempered with touching moments. It’s a journey of discovery for Frida, as she finds a place on the team, gains friendships, understanding, and acceptance, among the expedition members and also within herself. A fun read with a solid message.
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