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The Raven's Table: Viking Stories Kindle Edition
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program)
The Raven’s Table is a showcase of one writer’s incredible imagination delivered with finesses and skilled word craft. Christine Morgan is a perfect model of what every collections author should seek.
Admittedly, I’m no fan of hairy sword guys and gals in chainmail underwear running around having battles and ghosts and horses and such, yet I was instantly hooked by the gritty, apocalyptic horror of “The Barrow-Maid,” the opening act and fantastic marriage of Viking lore and the macabre. After that, it became a true effort to keep from starting the next story. Each tale is intriguing and uniquely told, yet Ms. Morgan’s command of her craft is so clean and proficient, the words disappeared and I felt like I was watching The Raven’s Table stories rather than reading them.
The characters are individual to each story, as is the voice. But for me, the finest part of The Raven’s Table is the unique way in which these stories are tied together in a Viking setting rendered not only in great narrative, but in a definitive language that brings the world to life. That, combined with the incredible stretch of imagination which not only steps way outside the typical tropes of fantasy and horror, but delivers with believability and often an emotionally haunting end. An ending that, many times, made me put the book aside to let every image sink in. Before diving right back for the next episode.
The Raven’s Table is a Viking masterpiece and Christine Morgan a Valkyrie with quill and well. An easy five stars and huge win for Word Horde Press. Every tale is an addicting adventure into different realms of imagination. Read this book!
But beyond the make-up of the individual stories in and of themselves, a feature that remains a running thread throughout is Morgan’s deft grasp of pacing and tension; ensuring that readers turn the pages while always being at the ready with a surprise. This is complemented by Word Horde’s consistently clever editorial approach, and once again the stories are grouped together in a way that complements their tone and approach.
The Raven’s Table may not be the revisionist viking story anthology you’re perhaps looking for — though male : female representation is pretty solid, it remains limned by the political realities of the period it depicts, and by a general desire to spin gripping yarns evoking traditional narratives — and neither is it a flinty, historically accurate portrayal of viking life as it was lived.
But Morgan’s collection is certainly a gripping read through-and-through. It takes all the things we find appealing about vikings and their world — the propensity towards righteous violence, a kind of vaunted machismo as a way of life and a mythic world that’s both weird and epic — and distributes them evenly across a tonally rich and inspired set of stories.
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