Friday, September 12, 2014
The Strange Maid
I read the first book in this series, THE LOST SUN. If you don't want any spoilers about The Lost Sun, I recommend not reading this blog post.
The weird thing about The Lost Sun, is that as time went on, I found myself thinking about it, wanting to reread it, and even recommending it to other people. The more I thought about the book, the more intrigued I became about the second book.
It's not very often that books have that affect on me.
An amazon summary, "Fans of Neil Gaiman, Holly Black, and Maggie Stiefvater will embrace the richly drawn, Norse-influenced alternate world of the United States of Asgard, where cell phones, rock bands, and evangelical preachers coexist with dragon slaying, rune casting, and sword training in schools. Where the president runs the country alongside a council of Valkyries, gods walk the red carpet with Hollywood starlets, and the U.S. military has a special battalion dedicated to eradicating Rocky Mountain trolls.
Signy Valborn was seven years old when she climbed the New World Tree and met Odin Alfather, who declared that if she could solve a single riddle, he would make her one of his Valkyrie. For ten years Signy has trained in the arts of war, politics, and leadership, never dreaming that a Greater Mountain Troll might hold the answer to the riddle, but that’s exactly what Ned the Spiritless promises her. A mysterious troll hunter who talks in riddles and ancient poetry, Ned is a hard man to trust. Unfortunately, Signy is running out of time. Accompanied by an outcast berserker named Soren Bearstar, she and Ned take off across the ice sheets of Canadia to hunt the mother of trolls and claim Signy’s destiny." AMAZON LINK OF JUSTICE
Signy is a very fierce character. When she was young, she was courageous in all of her actions and was even bold enough to climb the New World Tree (which is fenced off/off limits). She found Odin who branded her as a Valkyrie who could assume her title if she proved herself to her fellow Valkyries.
From that moment, she was raised amongst the Valkyries. Signy embraces different aspects of Odin's madness and chaos that the other Valkyries seem to not embrace as much. Signy is often caught up in the chaos of life; her heart sings for justice, for poetry, and to strive in the ways that Odin has laid out for her.
One night, after an ugly argument with her fellow Valkyries over a sacrifice she was going to make to Odin (someone's life), she slumbered in the boughs of the New World Tree. When she awoke, a riddle was burned on the tree above her head for all to see.
For the last two years, Signy has left the other Valkyries and has been searching for the answer to her riddle. She's traveled across the United States of Asgard by herself. She does odd jobs to get by as she puzzles endlessly over the riddle she believes to be set forth by Odin.
One day she runs into Unferth who claims to know the answer to her riddle. She's curious and desperate for her answer, but Unferth reveals it to be a stone heart, more specifically, a troll heart.
Signy embarks to train with Unferth in the book's version of Canada. She trains with spears, plays word wars with him of sorts, and starts to learn the art of hunting trolls. She trains with him for an entire winter. During her training time, Soren's adventure from book 1 is taking place, so there are mentions of his activities throughout the story.
That's roughly a third of the book.
So, I really enjoyed how much more of the world we saw and how well the societal routines were explained. This book seemed to kick it up a notch and brought the depth I had been looking for in the first book.
They went into more about the trolls so it made the events of the first book seem more plausible in retrospect, plus there were some choice moments where the Gods seemed wickedly real in a modern setting. They also touched base on the other faiths within their world and explained it a bit better without delving annoyingly far into it which was nice.
There were parts of Signy's character that I grappled to understand (like her need to write and leave her mark (runes) wherever she went), but they were minor grapples and didn't deter me enough from the story.
All in all, it was a great read. I'm excited for the third book!