There are been some astoundingly good fantasy novels come out over the last couple of years, novels that have, in my opinion, brought a breath of fresh air to the genre. Northern Wrath is another one of those novels.
It’s the first in a new trilogy by Danish-born author (and real-life Viking) Thilde Kold Holdt, and it sets the tone for what’s to come more or less from page one. The main thrust of the narrative appears to be the build up to Ragnarök, the Norse tale of the battle of the end times when the gods will die and the nine worlds will be separated forever. Thrust into the middle of this are a dead man caught in the void between the worlds, a shield-maiden tasked with finding a weapon worthy of the gods, the berserker son of a village chieftain, a giantess who has hidden her true nature from those closest to her, and her adopted daughter.
There is a lot going on in this six-hundred page novel, and a lot of characters to keep track of, though this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. We get a lot of viewpoints to explore, and each character is so well written that you rarely lose track of whose thoughts you are following at any given point. There’s also a lot of action to follow, though again it’s so well presented that at no point does it feel overwhelming or forced; you feel like you are a part of the fights and battles, right there on the front lines as the enemy slams into the shield wall. The writing throughout is exemplary, with a steady flow that keeps you reading long after you should have turned out the lights and gone to sleep.
This really is a fantastic start to a trilogy, and I seriously can’t wait for the next book to land. If the rest of the series is even half as good as this first book then it’s going to be one hell of a ride, and I would not be surprised to see Thilde Kold Holdt’s name appearing on award shortlists at some point over the next year or two.