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A gathering of Ravens by Scott Oden

Adult epic fantasy is one of those genres that you can either love and follow, or you just don’t get on well with; I definitely sit on the side of loving it. My only problem is that I find they always take me a while to read- but A Gathering of Ravens was definitely worth the time and effort to read.This was actually one that I had heard of before being given the opportunity to review, which just makes it that bit more exciting; so thank you to Tom and Bantam Press for giving me this great chance to be part of the blog tour.

To the Danes, he is skraelingr; to the English, he is orcneas; to the Irish, he is fomoraig. He is Corpse-maker and Life-quencher, the Bringer of Night, the Son of the Wolf and Brother of the Serpent. He is Grimnir, and he is the last of his kind–the last in a long line of monsters who have plagued humanity since the Elder Days.
Drawn from his lair by a thirst for vengeance against the Dane who slew his brother, Grimnir emerges into a world that’s changed. A new faith has arisen. The Old Ways are dying, and their followers retreating into the shadows; even still, Grimnir’s vengeance cannot be denied.
Taking a young Christian hostage to be his guide, Grimnir embarks on a journey that takes him from the hinterlands of Denmark, where the wisdom of the ancient dwarves has given way to madness, to the war-torn heart of southern England, where the spirits of the land make violence on one another. And thence to the green shores of Ireland and the Viking stronghold of Dubhlinn, where his enemy awaits.
But, unless Grimnir can set aside his hatreds, his dream of retribution will come to nothing. For Dubhlinn is set to be the site of a reckoning–the Old Ways versus the New–and Grimnir, the last of his kind left to plague mankind, must choose: stand with the Christian King of Ireland and see his vengeance done or stand against him and see it slip away? (from Goodreads)

Now there are certain things in writing that I normally count as a negative that I just can not criticise when it comes to epic fantasy. I like my novels to have flowly writing that is easy to follow and I not have to stumble over names or foreign wording, but how can I saw that with A Gathering of Ravens, when it was exactly this that added to its mysterious, whimsical,  fantastical feel- what sucked you into this ancient, medieval, make believe world that had your heart racing, your mind praying, and all your fingers crossed in hope for poor Etain’s life?

Although said to be a blend of Beowulf and Lord of the Rings, A Gathering of Ravens has such a unique feel about it, an almost mythological feel to it. Somehow I feel its a story that should be in a text book as some religious story, or myth of history. I mean this in the best possible way as a lover of mythology and history. However, if Beowulf is anything like this I will be needing to get my hands on a copy some point soon.

Mostly following two main characters, complete opposites at first impression, one good and innocent, another evil and devious; the novel takes you on a journey that blurs these differences, and re-evaluates that concept of good and bad.

With main themes of faith and vengeance this is a must read for any epic high fantasy or even any medieval historical fiction fans out there. A Gathering of Ravens is a 4.5 star read in my eyes, and definitely worth a try.

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