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The Gift of Hadrborg Paperback – August 26, 2016
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My favourite aspect of the story is the character journey of the young human boy Stefnir, and his relationship to his surrogate father figure Olaf the varl. A lot of fantasy series would follow the boy becoming a mighty warrior and growing up, but Fadeley deftly subverts expectations, and presents and altogether more ambivalent view of the value of being a warrior.
The faux-viking setting can be jarrign at first, but Fadeley adds in plenty of interesting nuancees and differences which distinguish the world, escaping historical pastiche.
The action is brutal, visceral and frenetic, the villains cruel and the heroes ruthless.
Altogether, a very enjoyable read. great for Banner Saga fans and newcomers alike.
I have to say this book has deepened my appreciation of Banner Saga lore and for the game itself. Fadeley has a talent for constructing complicated plots that pit several characters with conflicting agendas against each other. 'Gift' is no exception. Eirik and company have a variety of motives including vengeance, justice, peace. Each is convincing and plays off of the others naturally. It was a pleasure to get to know the city of Strand better while following the adventures of the book's protagonists. I also appreciated how Fadeley incorporated tactical analysis relevant to the game without making it feel forced. In general, the book is consistent both in terms of tone and dialogue with the game. That is to say, it gets pretty grim and gruesome at times, but also has its sights on grand ideas.
In summary, I highly recommend 'Gift', especially to fans of the games, although I don't think you need to have played them in order to enjoy this book.
Anyone who is a fan of the Banner Saga games should read this book because it adds so much to parts of the game! Remember the governor of Strand who gives that awesome speech in the first 5 minutes of Banner Saga 1? He's developed more in the book, and it's not just a boring background story used to generate more money for the game. I actually appreciated the governor's struggles in the game much more after reading this book.
There's a lot of lore about the varl and their beliefs provided in the story, as well. If you were unsympathetic to the varl-made bridge at Grofheim in the first game, you'll have your sentiments reversed upon reading this book. And, as someone from a universe in which theories about absent and non-interfering god(s), I was not super disturbed by the games' statement that "the gods are dead". But, again, the book gave me a whole new perspective on how upsetting that statement is and gave me a new sympathy for the characters.
I don't recommend the book for people who have not already played the games just because most of my appreciation comes from where the book fits into the game's universe basically. However, for someone considering picking up the games, I highly recommend playing them, then getting this book; especially parents for kids because kid-me would've loved Banner Saga's gameplay (turn-based strategy), and the book is certainly action-packed enough that kids who are reluctant to read will probably get hooked on it.
Kind of an odd review, but I hope this helps more Banner Saga fans find the book and helps create maybe a few new fans! :)