Sunday, 29 May 2011

Becky Bookworm Book Review: The Valkyrie Sagas - Mimir's Well by Dr Gregory Pepper

The Valkyrie Sagas: Mimir's WellThe Valkyrie Sagas: Mimir's Well by Dr. Gregory Pepper

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Dr Gregory Pepper definitely put a whole new spin on the world of Norse Mythology and the role of the Valkyries. For a starters he maps out Asgard in quite a different way to many by having the Aesir as an actual race of people living in Asgard which is a land linked to Vanaheim the land of the Elves and in turn the land of the Giants, Jutunheim. Britfrost the rainbow bridge is colourful but it's more like a constantly shifting giant glacier between the lands and in another peculiar twist the Norns dont so much as weave people's fates but sing songs that make who ever listens have an urgent need for sex. That is one of the other more striking things about his twist on these legendary characters that he introduced sex into the equation. Not only does he have Odin making love to Freyja (suprisingly ok with Frigg) but he also allows his Valkyrie Warriors and Maids (There is a difference between the two classes of Valkyrie but I won't explain it and spoil the story) have intimate affairs with the other male Gods such as Loki, Baldur and Freyr. Thankfully it's not an overpowering influence in the overall story although it is constantly linked to the Valkyries in some way. Dr Pepper also spins so of the classic myths into the narrative such as the building of Asgard's Walls by a mason (who in legend is tricked by Loki becoming a horse and running away with the mason's) yet in Dr Pepper's version it is a Valkyrie with Loki cunning which ultimately outwits the giants building work although it did lead to some bloodshed.

To me personally as a huge fan of the norse mythology and as a writer who is also trying to bring norse myths back but featuring the Valkyries more prominently I find only A) the use of sex, B) the twist in the wall legend, C) the irritating way all the Gods addresses the Valkyries as 'fair Kat' or 'Fair Prudr' (just sounded a bit tooo old fashioned and posh for the strong rugged gods of Vikings and more like posh aristrocrats); and D) the way the omniscient narrator was a bit too free and would jump between characters quite often in the same paragraph apart from the in the same chapter (think a limited omniscient narrator focusing on one character per chapter would have been better) jarred with my overall enjoyment of the book.

It is a good book though and throughout the narrative you can clearly see how much detail and imagination Dr Pepper has put into inventing or discovering not just the role of Valkyries (in his version they don't just collect the best souls for obvious reasons but also have a darker purpose) but also the way they lived, the way they were chosen, how they got their names, their ranking and servitude under Freya and the other gods, and how any modern soul claimed by them can adjust and survive to become one of them. This also of course shows how much Dr Pepper has read the norse myths and soaked every detail from them to create them into a world (much like in the Thor movie suprisingly) where magic and science coexist so they act as one and the same. That fact however is realise more towards the end and linked with the object in the story title. It is a most definite refreshing and original take on the all the Gods and their roles as well as the land they inhabit. I would recommend it to others who love the same subjects but I also would warn them that things are quite different in Dr Gregory Pepper's nordic universe.
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