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A Gathering of Ravens: A Novel Hardcover – June 20, 2017
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Praise for A Gathering of Ravens:
"This fast-paced thrill ride might have been bleak or unsettling, but it’s rendered so lovingly that it reveals new layers of familiar territory. The fresh viewpoint is steeped in an appreciation for the terrifying and powerful characters of high fantasy, and Oden does them justice. He provides a satisfying saga that’s as complex as an old tree’s roots, and a pleasure to read." ―Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"Oden mixes an exciting and vibrant narrative with a wealth of historical detail to bring Grimnir and his world to life, providing the reader with an immensely satisfying and rewarding experience. Fans of Oden’s previous work, or of historical fantasy in general, will definitely want to give it a look, as will any fantasy or even general reader looking for an evocative and engaging read." ―Booklist
"This novel creates a rich, grim fantasy world made from Norse, Anglo-Saxon and Celtic myth with strands of Tolkien.... Recommended for lovers of Tolkien, dark fantasy and northern mythology." ―Historical Novel Society
"Ambitious in scope and audacious in its execution, A Gathering of Ravens spectacularly weaves together the threads of history and mythological tradition, spiriting readers away on a journey through legend and time. A master storyteller, author Scott Oden has combined elements from Norse and Celtic lore with the richness of the early medieval landscape to create a novel that is epic in every sense; we have bloodshed and triumph, love and loss, tragedy and hope…and yes, we also have an Orc." ―The BiblioSanctum blog
"I thoroughly enjoyed A Gathering of Ravens. It's a magnificent mytho-historical saga, blending the history of 11th century Europe with Norse and Celtic mythology. A dark, grim and unrelentingly bloody tale of the last Orc and his quest for vengeance. Highly recommended." ―John Gwynne, author of Wrath (Book Four of The Faithful and the Fallen)
"Scott Oden's A Gathering of Ravens is everything that a Grimdark novel should be, sharp witted, dark and dangerous. Highly recommended for anyone who loves action, good characters and, you know, an amazing story. I loved it!" ―James A. Moore author of the Seven Forges series and The Last Sacrifice
"The story is imposing and dark, deftly woven by Oden to mix legend and history, telling of the last Orc and his quest for revenge. If you like action, complex characters, and gory battles, this book is worth reading." Fantasy Faction blog
"Norse and Celtic mythology are beautifully woven in this historical fantasy novel set in medieval Europe, where the battle between the Old and New religions are at its peak. With his masterful storytelling skills, Scott Oden spirits the reader across different legends and lore while introducing a diverse cast of characters, including Grimnir, our not-so-normal protagonist who is the last of his kind.... Overall, this is a really well-written novel with a fantastic plot, group of characters and a magical fantasy world. A Gathering of Ravens is a must-read for historical fantasy lovers!" ―The Nerd Daily
"Set in a vividly-imagined world where history and myth blur, Scott Oden’s gripping and bloody tale of monsters and men carves out a fantastic new legend for this modern age." ―James Wilde, author of the Hereward series and the forthcoming pre-Arthurian epic Pendragon
"A grand, dark, historical fantasy/adventure, full of blood and steel and battle, Scott Oden's A Gathering of Ravens is not to be missed. More The Broken Sword than Lord of the Rings, this is Norse Fantasy with a Vengeance. Grab your axe and line up for the shield wall, and Odin count the dead." ―Charles R. Rutledge, co-author of Blind Shadows and Congregations of the Dead
"An amazing work of fantasy with a very real touch of both humanity and the weight of history. While reading it, I lost many hours of sleep because I didn’t want to put the book down. Oden has populated his strange world with witches, monsters, Vikings, warriors, cowards, and everything in between. It’s safe to say he’s gained another fan after writing this book!" ―Charnel House Reviews
"Scott Oden has done it! It's all about the characters. Do not judge Grimnir too fast; he's written like someone writes about a multilayered human. It gives me goosebumps sometimes to read something this good that is inspired by something I composed." - Simon Kölle, International Film Composer and the founder of Za Frûmi
"Scott Oden has done a marvelous job of weaving his tale of myths, legends and history into a tale that feels like an ancient chronicle a fable for warriors, remembering their history, recounting the glory of the old gods in the face of the new one. . . this really is a book not to miss." ―Parmenion Books blog
"Scott Oden has a novel that is one of the best books I have read in a long time. I expect it to stay firmly planted at the top of my best of 2017 list. I rarely have such a bond with a book and a character as I have with A gathering of Ravens and with Grimnir. I am beside myself with excitement to see what comes next in this epic saga!" ―Mighty Thor JRS blog
"From the first appearance of Grimnir to the final showdown at Clontarf, the pace never lets up. With an intimate and detailed knowledge of the history and legends of Northern Europe, [Oden] has told a tale that lives and breathes “that Northern Thing.” You can smell the surf, the heath, and sense the sidhe lurking just beyond your field of vision. Oden writes in clean, clear prose, never letting his characters get crushed under the weight of bad archaisms or ruined by inappropriate modern speech. A Gathering of Ravens belongs on the same shelf as the best modern swords & sorcery novels, and on the shelf of any serious swords & sorcery reader." ―Black Gate blog
"Right from the start this book draws you in with its evocative imagery and beautifully-described landscapes. In a subtle way, Oden leads you into Grimnir’s world as he sees it.... If you like your fantasy Tolkienesque with deep roots, then this novel is for you, and like many legends in truth, it is not exactly a story of justice or redemption, but it is a tale that must play itself out to its very end, a tale you cannot help but get drawn into. ―Forbidden Planet International blog
Praise for Scott Oden's previous books:
"Oden's masterful story of bloody battles, political intrigues, betrayal and romance offers a gripping portrait of the collapse of an empire." ―Publisher’s Weekly (starred review) on Men of Bronze
The mark of exceptional historical fiction is its creation of an alien world so convincing (and peopled by such fascinating characters) that the reader never wants to go back to the real world. Scott Oden delivers exactly that in The Lion of Cairo, a tale of Assad the assassin that reads like a cross between the Arabian Nights and a Hollywood blockbuster. Memnon and Men of Bronze put Mr. Oden squarely on the hist/fiction map. The Lion of Cairo assures his place in the very front rank. ―Steven Pressfield, New York Times bestselling author of Gates of Fire
“Oden...brings the man and his times to life with a combination of vivid conjecture, deft plotting and graceful prose.” ―Publishers Weekly on Memnon
About the Author
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. He is an avid reader of fantasy and ancient history, a collector of swords, and a player of tabletop role-playing games. His previous books include Men of Bronze, Memnon, and The Lion of Cairo. When not writing, he can be found walking his two dogs or doting over his lovely wife, Shannon.
Top customer reviews
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The setting was phenomenal, not just in terms of historical feel but in terms of the everyday, feeling very grounded, as while we got to meet kings on this amazing journey of a novel, the author never lost the feel (and the fate) of the everyday common folk. I love high fantasy and it is still probably my favorite fantasy subgenre, but this novel really seemed to inhabit a living, breathing world and deal with the common folk in way many fantasy novels don’t even try.
The physical setting – the stormy northern European weather, the cloud-wrapped mountains, the dense woods, the stony shores, the green green land of Ireland – also felt real and alive. I love the outdoors and nature and once again, Oden really captured the real physicality of Denmark, England, and Ireland. I fancy myself something of an amateur botanist and the author did very well in that regard!
One of the most exciting aspects of the novel was the deft weaving in of the myths, legends, folklore, and monsters of Norse mythos, of old, old England, and of Ireland. It is definitely a fantasy novel and never lets the reader forget. I don’t want to give any of the surprises away (and there are surprises), but this tale, while very grounded and strangely relatable, definitely does not lack for the supernatural, magic, and some very creepy creatures. As I am a huge fan especially of Norse mythos, this book is a favorite of mine twice over because of their inclusion, so rarely are they used in fantasy writings, certainly to the degree used here.
I loved, loved, loved the interplay of a spreading Christianity in a world still inhabited by Norse and Celtic magic. It was incredibly interesting and quite possibly the best part of the book. I don’t want to give anything away but it was a very interesting dynamic and while there were definite ebbs and flows of one or the other, definitely and fittingly echoed Tolkien’s concept of a “long defeat,” appropriate in a novel that had a strong sense of not only exploring the world Tolkien drew from but also acknowledging the enormous influence the Professor had on what it means to be an orc.
Pacing was excellent, the book never lagged, there were no slow spots, the exposition that we got never felt like info dumps and was always delivered in a lively and entertaining way. Fight scenes were engaging, felt very realistic, and were easy to follow yet full of surprises.
I feel I can’t comment much on the plot as there are so many twists, turns, and possible spoilers I don’t want to ruin the experience for the reader. Suffice it to say there are two main characters, one of them Grimnir, Oden’s brilliant imagining of what orcs might be like if they were part of our real world. He was surprisingly nuanced and layered a character, something I had not expected, though perhaps more surprising was his companion, who was not there to serve as a straight man, foil, or someone to rescue but a very interesting and relatable character with far more agency than most people would have ever even imagined for that role. Well done.
The author’s final notes post-epilogue are worth reading as well, delving into his writing process and the thoughts behind the novel and Grimnir. I heartily applaud his redemption of the orcs and forging a new path in how they are portrayed in modern fantasy writing. I hope that serves as an inspiration to other fantasy author who might want to put a fresh new spin on ancient and medieval creatures that have been either taken for granted or even forgotten.
I really have no complaints about the book to offer. Sometimes the action scenes were a little gory but they certainly never felt gratuitous or out of place and fit the setting and time period. I think my mentioning it is more a matter of taste than anything else. Other than that, I have nothing to object to and much to praise about this novel.
It is a story which is reminiscent of the tv show VIKINGS as well as some of the writings of Bernard Cornwell. You really don't think any fantasy which includes an orc would be so serious and grim but it's more Beowulf than a Lord of the Rings rip off.
This is definitely "grimdark" fiction with all the religious hypocrisies, secular cruelties, and racism which you can expect from this sort of story. There's also the World Tree, the last witch in the world, and a world where there's evidence of both God as well as other pantheons working together. It's a unique vision of fantasy and one which I think works well for the four hundred or so pages the story lasts. It's a tale of vengeance, the ending of an age, and more.
Would I recommend it? Absolutely. If you like dark and gritty fantasy then this will be right up your alley. It's a pretty harsh story for lighter fantasy fans but I felt the ending more than made up for the difficult journey--at least for our protagonists. It was bittersweet in all the right ways.
Oden’s 2017 novel also caters very well to a modern audience with rapid Divinci Code-esque chapters, authenticly complicated characters, and plenty of unapologetic brutality.
A large amount of archaic terminology and obscure proper nouns adds to the story’s authentic feel. But these same terms can be cumbersome regarding the story’s pace and mood. Therefore, I highly recommend reading a digital version where unfamiliar language can be researched with the tap of a finger.
I’ve read very little Sword and Sorcery work (only Martin, Tolkien, Lewis, and Yolen). Perhaps there are dozens of works I’d like even more than A Gathering if Ravens, but nevertheless I had a great time reading this book and will certainly look into Scott Oden’s previous work and eagerly anticipate returning to the fascinating and brutal world created with Scott Oden’s, A Gathering of Ravens.
Most recent customer reviews
Would definitely call this work historical fantasy, I enjoyed the fresh take of Orc as a race and their ties to Norse & Old English mythology.Read more
“Since young adulthood, I’ve wanted to write a book about Orcs—those foot...Read more
Cataclysmic and Lyrical as befitting the End of Days, Scott Oden blends history and myth in a way I have never read...Read more