Rating: 4.5 stars
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Otto Johanson, the eldest son of the kings of Thunderhill, is still grieving the loss of his lover three years later. But at the Midsummer feast, he meets nomad Lukas Matson. There’s something about Lukas that Otto doesn’t like, and that only grows when Lukas bests Otto in competition. But when Thunderhill is attacked, the two men are sent on a quest for revenge.
The journey is grueling, but as time goes on, Otto sees what a stalwart and true warrior Lukas is. His admiration grows, and so does his affection. When Lukas shares his past with Otto, the two men grow even closer. But with their minds focused on the battle ahead, they cannot dwell on their growing relationship.
They are successful in their endeavor, and neither man wants to be parted. Misconceptions cause miscommunication. But when they work it out, they know their future is bright.
I’m a sucker for great world building (I think you all know this by now) and Graham does a fantastic job in this novella. It feels familiar in a way similar to Norse mythology, but the author gives it a twist all its own. I loved the world the author created, and was completely immersed within it. Reindeer as mounts, small communities and big cities, same-sex partnerships being the norm, and women fighting alongside men. It’s completely believable in this author’s hands, and wonderfully done.
Otto is our narrator, and I loved how real he felt. He’s got flaws, sure, but he’s a good and kind man who wants the best for his people. Knowing he’ll take up the mantle of king someday soon, he’s done his best to prepare for the role. He knows that means taking a spouse as well, though his heart is still hurting from his loss. At first, he and Lukas do not get along, and Lukas’s standoffish behavior is part of the problem. But both men have their reasons, and as he gets to know Lukas, the reader does as well.
I was drawn in from the beginning. The author has a great style that fits the book well, flowery words and all. There was a poetry here I wasn’t expecting, but it works perfectly with the tale being told. I was immersed in the world and in the story, unable to put it down, and could picture everything clearly.
I will say that there is some…gruesomeness to this book. The battles are bloody, and people and animals die. For me, it fit perfectly in with the tale and none of it felt gratuitous in any way. But if these things don’t work for you, or are a trigger, then I’d say this isn’t the story for you.
All in all, I was very pleased with this story. The blurb had me intrigued, and it definitely lived up to its promise. I enjoyed the book, and definitely recommend it to any fantasy lovers out there.