Saturday, October 12, 2013

Book Review: The Lost Sun

Quick order of business, due to trying watching all the fall anime shows at once in order to get that round-up out I'm switching the order of the tv series and anime reviews this week to give myself an extra day, glad that this week I can choose just which series I want to watch on which days now.

In any case, this is another book curotisy of Random Buzzers, haven't gotten one from them in a while, and it was funny since I entered, forgot about it, when to Otakon and thought "oh huh, guess I didn't win, damn I wanted that book." Which of course means that according to the laws of humor that the book was lying on my bed for me when I got back that weekend, hurray!

The Lost Sun by Tessa Gratton

So originally I was going to say about the cover was along the lines of "it might be just me but there's something a little off here, I think it's the semi-transparent face against the woods that's not working" when I remembered, Soren isn't white! I don't recall the exact passages from the book but he's either black or biracial (and dark enough to not pass for white) and, well, that's not what you think when you look at this cover. So I suppose there's a bit of white-washing going on, lovely, haven't come across that in a little while.

Summary: Sorin Bearskin's father was a berserker, a warrior devoted to Odin and prone to fits of battle frenzy, and that's what he'll be as well, destined and doomed by his genetics. Soren fights this all the time but when he meets Astrid, the daughter of a powerful seer and a budding one in her own right, who not only needs his powers but doesn't fear them he finds himself going on a road-trip like quest with her to find a dead god and set the world back to rights.

The Good: What initially drew me to this book was the setting and it is quite meticulously done, it never feels like Gratton has merely replaced one part of our modern lives with something medieval (like, replacing phones with something magical) but rather like she spent a lot of time thinking about how much a different culture would have shaped this nation (so instead of court cases sometimes people get into ritual all out duels which is rather cool actually). Some of this pops up in the main conflict as well since instead of centering the story around some of the better known Norse mythological figures (Thor, Odin, Loki, etc) the story revolves around the disappearance of Baldur and I'm always baffled why he doesn't pop up more often in modern takes on Norse myths (considering that, if I recall correctly, his death helps trigger/triggered/will trigger Ragnarok) and appreciate that.* So for any fans of Norse mythology who are a bit tired of just seeing retellings such as the Marvel movies (or perhaps you aren't tired of those and just want me) then give this a shot, I'm looking forward to the next books just to see what happens next with the setting.

The Bad: This could very well be because I read the book in one sitting (not exactly because I wanted to, I was on a long train ride with nothing else to do) but there was something about it that just felt a little off. I truly did enjoy it, don't get me wrong there, but maybe it was how quickly I read the book that made it seem like everything was a bit too easy for the characters. I know why they succeeded when they did, the story makes that a plot point, and ultimately the real struggle in the book isn't Soren and Astrid's quest but rather Soren dealing with his past/future but I still wish that it had been just a little more difficult for them. And, saying this as vaguely as I can to avoid spoilers, I wasn't satisfied with how Soren's story wrapped up, like the rest of the story I felt like in the end it was resolved all too easily which made me wonder if the character's had had some major communication problems which is always a lame reason for a conflict.

So, great setting and world-building but the problems were resolved a little too simply at the end which was a tad frustrating. For that I give the book 3.5 out of 5 stars and can't wait to see what it does next!

*it also means that the title is a really awesome pun but apparently I'm in the minority for actually liking puns and wordplay

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