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A Gathering of Ravens by Scott Oden
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A Gathering of Ravens

by Scott Oden

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A great blend of Myth and Fantasy. Filled with strong characters that I really liked and one that I am not sure if I love or hate. I will try to get a review on my blog soon but I have been saying that a lot lately. But for now I would actually rate this 4.25 stars

I am finally making a dent in my TBR but my TB Reviewed is getting longer than ever. Oh and Scott gave me a copy of the book but that in no way changes my review ( )
  Trevorsherman | Oct 25, 2017 |
A Gathering of Ravens delivers an Orc with serious depth, and he carries a bloody seax too.
“Since young adulthood, I’ve wanted to write a book about Orcs—those foot soldiers of evil first revealed to us in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien. I wanted to write it from the Orcs’ point of view. And I wanted to redeem them.” – Scott Oden, Author’s Note from A Gathering of Ravens

Scott Oden did not want to “write about a redeeming orc,” or the “redemption of an orc.” Rather, the author set out to present an orc that was not shallow, zombie-like drone (ala Tolkien, and most of high fantasy novels stereotype).

The milieu in A Gathering of Ravens is reminiscent of Poul Anderson’s Viking Age The Broken Sword, being full of Dane’s and Celtic faeries and Norse myths. The style is more readable than that classic, but is still saturated with just the right amount of call-outs to geographies and history to blur the lines between fantasy and history. This is no historical fantasy, but the foundation of history is so well played the fantasy feels “real.”

Equally balanced are the sorceries of Celtic witches, Norse deities, and Christian beliefs. All supernatural “sides” of faiths conflict here. All are presented as real, though some are being superseded.

So who is the orc protagonist employed by Scott Oden to redeem the orc culture? He is Grendel’s brother, as named by some. The lady Étaín, a servant of the Christian God, the Nailed One, and unlikely companion of him describes him:
“He is called Grimnir… the last of his kind, one of the kaunar—known to your people as fomóraig, to mine as orcnéas, and to the Northmen as skrælingar. In the time I’ve known him, he has been ever a fomenter of trouble, a murderer, and as cruel a bastard… I can vouch neither for his honesty nor his morals, as he is bereft of both. And while he did kidnap me, threaten me with death, mock my faith, and expose me to the hates of a forgotten world, he also saved my life …”

Grimnir is a brutal bastard. His name suits him, since he might as well be caring a flagstaff with the contemporary “Grimdark subgenre” splayed upon it. Yet his predicament and motivations are compelling as any vigilante hero. Way to deliver on your muse, Scott Oden! ( )
  SELindberg | Aug 22, 2017 |
The story in Scott Oden's, A Gathering of Ravens. takes place a thousand years in the past. It is a mix of legend, history, myth, magick, and the growing influence of Christianity. It's not the kind of fare I would usually read or review, but I'm so glad I picked this up.

An epic tale from an orc's point of view. From the synopsis of A Gathering of Ravens...

"To the Danes, he is skraelingr; to the English, he is orcnéas; 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."

At its root, the story is about Grimnir's quest for revenge against the Half-Dane Bjarki. A Gathering of Ravens is filled with wonderful characters, even secondary players like Blind Maeve are imbued with life in this wonderfully layered tale.

"With sudden vehemence, Grimnir carved his seax through the Saxon's throat. He slashed once. Twice. And on the third blow vertebrae crunched as the dead man's head came free. Grimnir straightened, holding his prize by its long hair."

If you like stuff like that, A Gathering of Ravens is definitely a tale worth your time. Treachery, double-crosses, epic battles, and unexpected compassion. All leading to the climatic Battle on the Plain of Tarbh.

"...carved the blade across (his) belly and ripped him open from right to left, viscera tumbled out, loops of red and purple intestine, sacks of organs; blood splashed the roots of the tree, and the stench of bowel rose from the cavernous wound."

Recommended.

A Gathering of Ravens: A Novel is available in both hardcover and e-book formats from Thomas Dunne Books, a division of St. Martin's Press.

From the author's bio - Scott Oden was born in Indiana but has spent most of his life shuffling between his home in rural North Alabama. a hobbit hole in Middle-earth, and some sketchy tavern in the Hyborian Age. When not writing he can be found walking his two dogs or doting on his lovely wife, Shannon. ( )
  FrankErrington | Jun 23, 2017 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0312372949, Hardcover)

To the Danes, he is skraelingr; to the English, he is orcnéas; 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?

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 22 Dec 2016 01:02:36 -0500)

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