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by Laura Baugh

Pub Date: Feb. 14th, 2017
ISBN: 978-1-63165-004-8
Publisher: Æclipse Press

A romantic fantasy sees a woman become enthralled to the Norse gods.

Euthalia, a young woman soon to be married, journeys with her father’s trading expedition. While traveling, Chief Tikhomir wants to wed his daughter to a rich member of the Byzantine Empire. When large vessels shaped like serpents approach downriver, he hopes the Northmen aboard plan to negotiate rather than plunder. Tikhomir offers Euthalia to the man with the “dragon voice,” avoiding senseless fighting. She leaves with the Northmen, patient for a chance to escape but also surprised by how well they feed, clothe, and bathe her. Eventually, they reach a Northland village, and she learns that she’s to be sacrificed—that is, married—to the man with the dragon voice. Doing so both mystifies and ennobles her existence, because the man is actually Vidar, a son of the god Odin, ruler of Asgard. Vidar keeps her in an empty replica of the Northland village, visiting her dwelling only at night, when no light may reveal his face. Euthalia otherwise becomes known as a teller of Greek tales to the Asgardians, whom she meets in Odin’s hall. Among them is the trickster Loki, who plays Euthalia against his fellow gods to deadly effect. In this expressive banquet of love, legends, and exploits, VanArendonk Baugh (Social, Civil, and Savvy, 2017, etc.) channels the charm and grandeur of the Norse pantheon effortlessly. Splendid dialogue breathes life into the likes of the poet Bragi, who says, “All stories are songs....Only some have music.” The stars of Norse myth appear as the mystery of Vidar unfolds, including Thor, Freyja, Baldr, as well as the inhuman children of Loki, Fenrir, and Jörmungandr. As the world-ending Ragnarok approaches, Euthalia wonders whether the gods have been struck with “admirable self-possession or futile madness.” She later discovers that “there is small magic in the daily choices of every living thing.” Overall, a tale for everyone—especially those who love a mix of superheroes, romance, and monstrous action.

A lyric course in Norse mythology packed with heart and wit.