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Norse Code [Mass Market Paperback]

Greg Van Eekhout
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

19 May 2009
Is this Ragnarok, or just California?

The NorseCODE genome project was designed to identify descendants of Odin. What it found was Kathy Castillo, a murdered MBA student brought back from the dead to serve as a valkyrie in the Norse god’s army. Given a sword and a new name, Mist’s job is to recruit soldiers for the war between the gods at the end of the world—and to kill those who refuse to fight.

But as the twilight of the gods descends, Mist makes other plans.

Journeying across a chaotic American landscape already degenerating into violence and madness, Mist hopes to find her way to Helheim, the land of the dead, to rescue her murdered sister from death’s clutches. To do so, she’ll need the help of Hermod, a Norse god bumming around Los Angeles with troubles of his own. Together they find themselves drafted into a higher cause, trying to do what fate long ago deemed could not be done: save the world of man. For even if myths aren’t made to be broken, it can’t hurt to go down fighting…can it?

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Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 292 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Inc (19 May 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553592130
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553592139
  • Product Dimensions: 2.1 x 10.5 x 17.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 441,220 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
This books is a brilliant portrayal of the world of the old Norse Gods clashing and interacting with our modern secular one and it cleverly brings you into this mix of realms with the character who only became deceased and turned Valkyrie 3 months ago. It also focuses not on the greater known gods like Odin, Thor and Loki although they are involved in the overall adventure but on the more minor and genuinely more interesting characters of this pantheon of Hermod, a small wandering God and of course my all time favourite - Valkyries.
The story revolves around the impending doom of Ragnarok, Hermod's bitter luck after failing to bring Baldur back from the dead clutches of Hel and Mist (formermly human deceased) a relatively new and modern valkyrie who actually resists the role she has been given in exitsence to try and rescue her sister also from Hel's domain.
The characters are brilliant to relate to and the rising chaos in the world (set in America) really helps invision what Ragnarok would be like if it occured in our modern world.
The ending of the over all book is very unique and although it goes against the very mythology involved it actually suits it for the Gods like the viking people who worshipped them are anything if not survivors.
It is a great novel (albeit it small) to read for fans of vikings, norse mythology and urban/paranormal fantasy.

As a writer trying to write a story using the same range of characters (not exactly the same characters in this one) and also setting such an old faith in a modern world I was pleasently impressed to see how well it would actually work and how easy the reader would except if it makes a good story that grips you from chapter to chapter. Hopefully one day there will be room in the literary world for Valkyries and these great old gods, characters of legends and myths to overcome the firm base of Vampires and the growing presence of Angels in young adult novels.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.0 out of 5 stars  41 reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not exactly Urban Fantasy, Not Exactly Epic Fantasy, Just Good Fantasy! 25 Jun 2009
By E. Nolan - Published on
Format:Mass Market Paperback
_Norse Code_ is a little gem of a book. When so many fantasy books today are small installments in series that may run into the dozens (assuming they actually do ever reach a conclusion!), _Norse Code_ harks back to the days of "done in one". While it's not the slim 190 pages of some classic genre books, at 292 pages definitely not yet another "doorstop" fantasy where you could cut 100 pages and do nothing but improve things.

The story itself is a setting of the Norse "Twilight of the Gods" in the modern world, and successfully treads a very fine line between treating its characters as figures of myth with all the irrationalities of myth and grounded modern men and women who think as we do.

The main characters are Hermod, an Aesir (he is careful not to actually claim to be a 'god') brother to Balder and Thor who after failing to bring Balder back from the land of the dead has been in self imposed exile on Midguard (our world) for thousands of years, and Mist a modern California Valkyrie who is recruting warriors for the final, hopeless battle of Ragnorok. Hermod is a well realized, wry character who though he considers himself to have failed at everything grand he has ever tried, and tries grand things with no enthusiasm still nonetheless never shirks from the tasks he feels set before him. Mist is a bit less well realized but still engaging.

Although I suppose a sequel is possible (for instance, who killed Mist in the first place?), things are generally wrapped up well enough by the books end that none is necessary or expected.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent re-imagining 12 Jun 2009
By Shala Kerrigan - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I don't know what I expecting from the cover. I think I was vaguely expecting another thinly disguised magic warrior woman romance sort of thing which really wasn't what I was in the mood for, but I decided to read it anyway.
I'm glad I did. It's complicated with a lot of characters and jumping between different scenes taking place with the characters, but it's worth it.
It's sometime in the near future. The world is in winter and pretty bleak, civilization as we know it is crumbling, but it's not really mankind's fault. It's Ragnarök. Despite everything humans have done with their free will and inventive spirit, at the end, it comes down to prophecy laid down eons ago, it's up to a lesser known god, a renegade Valkyrie, a warrior, a ghost, and the god blamed for the start of the fall to change it, to save the world from destiny.
It's well written and a great re-imagining of mythology. I enjoyed it completely. It's not fluffy and light like the cover suggests. It's a good story.
14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ragnarok, Norse gods, Valkyries. What more could you want? 13 Jun 2009
By Alexia - Published on
Format:Mass Market Paperback
The NorseCODE genome project was designed to identify descendants of Odin. What it found was Kathy Castillo, a murdered MBA student brought back from the dead to serve as a Valkyrie in the Norse god's army. Given a sword and a new name, Mist's job is to recruit soldiers for the war between the gods at the end of the world - and to kill those who refuse to fight. But as the twilight of the gods descends, Mist makes other plans.

This book was amazing! I gave it 5 stars for sheer originality as well as for having great characters and a good plotline. I mean, honestly, how many books have you ever come across featuring the Norse gods and Ragnarok? I vaguely remember Odin and Loki, but the other gods and mythology were new to me. Greg did a great job of providing short backgrounds when necessary, and made it easy to keep track of everyone.

Mist is a new Valkyrie who is not really comfortable with her job of finding new recruits for the final battle between the gods. On her very first job, when her first recruit is deemed unworthy and is set on the road to Helheim (the land of the dead), Mist decides to embark on a rescue mission. She will not only rescue her recruit, but also her murdered sister Lilly. To do this, she needs the help of the only one to ever go to Helheim and back, the Norse god Hermod.

Hermod has problems of his own and would rather just be left alone, but somehow winds up accompanying Mist on her rescue mission. Along with her bodyguard Grimnir and Hermod's loyal dog Winston, they set off on the adventure to end all adventures. And hey, while they're at it, why not prevent the end of the world as well?
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Use of Norse Mythology 16 Jun 2009
By James Townsend - Published on
Format:Mass Market Paperback
If you have any working knowledge of the Norse myths and culture, then you'll most likely enjoy this book. It's wonderfully written, with great dialogue. I'd never heard of the author, just saw it on a bookshelf at a local store, and thought I'd pick it up, because I'm into Norse mythology. I'm glad I did. The author weaves mythology into modernism in a respectable fashion, avoiding the usual cheesiness that comes with less respectable books.

The only book I can think of that is similar in terms of using old gods and new worlds is Neil Gaiman's "American Gods," and this book, in my opinion, far surpasses Gaiman's.

Kudos to this author. Can't wait to read more.
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Norse Mythology Well Used 8 Jun 2009
By The Mad Hatter - Published on
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I wasn't very familiar with Eekhout before, but I have since checked out a couple of his short stories which were surprisingly strong. I'm glad he decided to tackle something long form as Norse Code is his debut effort. He most certainly has a bright future in front of him. Norse Code was one of those titles that as soon as I heard it I knew it would be for me.

Norse Code can almost act as an entertaining primer to Norse Gods and their associated lore. Eekhout manages to deftly include nearly every aspect of Norse mythology in some fashion. Even tiny aspects are discussed in depth while they are barely mentioned in the legends. The book centers on Hermod Odinson, the wandering god, who is often considered a minor player in the mythology but in this he grows into a star. The book quickly switches gears from what I thought was going to be more of a typical Urban Fantasy placed mostly on our world but turned into a tour of all the Nine worlds of Norse mythology traveling to the very roots of the World Tree. This is most assuredly the coming of Ragnarok.

Norse Code is action-packed and fun, but I did have a few problems with it. Overall, it was almost too quickly paced and many of the problems the characters encounter are solved too easily. Some more fleshing out of the coming of Ragnarok would have been good especially in the worsening of the human realm just to connect the reader a bit more. I felt that the book did lose something by not following up more on the NorseCode company which is only mentioned at the beginning and little elsewhere. It almost seemed like this should have been book 2 in a series. The main female character Mist could have used a bit more emotion, but I guess being a Valkyrie it is understandable why she isn't. Even with all of these problems Norse Code is still very much a worthwhile and enjoyable read. The battle scenes with the Gods and other creatures are well done as are the depictions of creatures such a Surtr a giant fire being.

The dialogue is especially funny in the most unexpected scenes as Hermod always makes it seem that he is out of his element or out matched. Fans of American Gods and Thor comics will find something to love in these pages. Norse Code will definitely keep you compelled enough to get to the finish line just to see what all this talk of Ragnarok is all about. The ending certainly surprised me. For a first novel this is a fine showing.
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