on 25 March 2011
Based upon the Lokasenna from the Poetic Edda of Norse mythology, Östergren's near-future dystopian story tracks Hanck Orn as he searches for answers as to his son's death.
The Lokasenna (Loki's flyting or 'insult slinging') forms the basis of the middle section of the book while in the first and then third, Östergren concentrates more upon Orn's journey - both physical and metaphorical - as he comes to terms with the changes that unexpected life and death bring to a man.
Östergren skillfully updates the language both of the speeches and actions of the players of the Lokasenna, while retaining the poetic nature of the myth. You come to realise that these Gods, being Gods, are still alive and playing their old games; unchanging while the earth and its nations may come and go.
Equally skillful is his handling of the emotions and actions of a single man. You make the journey with Orn, feeling for him and with him as he stumbles along as blindly as the All Father is (supposedly) omnivident.
My only criticism is that the final pages seemed a little rushed, as if a word limit was hovering over Östergren. Nonetheless an excellent read which has encouraged me to delve into his other works.