Book Review: Path of Gods

Path of Gods by Snorri Kristjansson, The Vahalla Saga #3

Reunited, Audun and Ulfar have a new sense of purpose: to ensure that the North remains in the hands of those who hold with the old gods. To do this, they must defeat the people who seek to destroy all they have ever known with the new White Christ. But these are powerful enemies and if they have any chance of victory, they must find equally powerful allies.

In Trondheim, King Olav, self-appointed champion of the White Christ, finds that keeping the peace is a much harder test of his faith than winning the war. With his garrison halved and local chieftains at his table who wish him nothing but ill, the king must decide how and where to spread the word of his god.

And in the North, touched by the trickster god, something old, malevolent and very, very angry stirs…

And so we are brought to the third story in the awesome The Vahalla Saga. Snorri Kristjansson managed to completely win me over with his debut Swords of Good Men, which was also my first Jo Fletcher title I reviewed (it must have been destiny), and last year with the sequel Blood will Follow he managed to astound me once again. The sequel was a bit different in tone but even more amazing with what Snorri Kristjansson introduced, that mythical part! Wow. Though the hints were obscure, if you know some of the Norse pantheon lore, you could make out the direction of the story in the big lines, Snorri Kristjansson kept enough material behind to keep you guessing and wondering. And now everything will be revealed in Path of Gods. 

Path of Gods picks up in the best, most amazing and awesome way. I am a big fan of the Norse mythology and not only because Marvel The Avengers, different pantheons have always intrigued me. And so, the prologue of Path of Gods got me really excited for the latter of the book because BAM! Yes a deity reveal. This only confirmed what I was thinking. Anyway, the story continues the journey of Ulfar Thormodsson and Audun Arngrimsson, they have already been through a lot, from their encounter in Stenvik and the supernatural dealings in the second book. Now they have regrouped and have one specific goal in mind, to make sure that the lands they live in stays in the hands of the right people who still believe in their gods. King Olav Tryggvasson started a crusade in Swords of Good Men, a crusade to force the Christian believe on the people of Norway and Sweden. If you didn't comply on the first go you would be persuaded in a nasty way and if you still didn't commit to this new believe you would be killed. King Olav has marched his way from Stenvik all the way to Trondheim, "convincing" people for his White Christ cause. But it comes at a price as King Olav now established in Trondheim has a difficult task of keeping everyone happy, so far that people are planning against King Olav... So now King Olav is facing problems within his own council as well as from the south. Now this might sound like simple story but it is far from it. As in both the case of Ulfar and Audun and King Olav there are plans, counter plans and back stabbing. Ulfar, Audun and the people of Stenvik have to make new alliances, put their trust in untrustworthy people to gain a force strong enough to even dare to face. There is for the reader a cherry on top of it all, the part where Snorri Kristjansson finally drops the mythical bomb on us. Yes, there are some meddlesome characters of the Norse Pantheon. Beware spoiler: Loki and Thor and Odin make the most important introductions here. The way that Snorri Kristjansson introduced them into the story was just brilliant stuff, with a hint here and there and then you slowly put the pieces together for a bigger picture. As the story picks up more and more speed, there was a big reveal on page 280 which put the biggest smile on my face that I had for a long time, that scene just i don't know what to say. The ending left me just as speechless, I can only say that this is the type of book and series that will make an authors career skyrocket.

Just as with the other books in the series Snorri Kristjansson writes solid, I mentioned that in the first book some scenes were a bit chaotic and in the sequel and again in this book Snorri Kristjansson has corrected this error and produced a very clear and addictive read that will have you hooked from the first prologue. What was for me noticeable is Snorri  Kristjansson's writing style, it's for me in the lines of, you either like my stories or you don't, he writes with a confidence that it is his story and you have to accept it, somethings are bold but they work very well. 

As for the characters of the Path of Gods, the focus has always been on Ulfar and Audun from their first introduction in Swords of Good Men, where Ulfar arrived in the town of Stenvik and the blacksmith with a story Audun who eventually wound up figthing against Viking raiders and having to rely on each other. They have gone through a lot and this is clearly noticeable in the growth that Snorri Kristjansson shows in their characters. If you compare Ulfar from the first book, a rookie, to what he has finally become in Path of Gods, it's amazing. He has gone through a tremendous transformation. Now you might become hesitant when I say tremendous transformation, but don't, the transformation that Ulfar goes through is all on the screen. You see how he is changed and it is not erratic, it's natural by events that he encounters and it comes to show that you just can't mess with a god. The same counts for Audun, though he already has a background to start with, the scenes where you see him are just as with Ulfar, he was destined. I so want to scream what happens to them but I won't. It is costing me discipline though. I think you will be amazed with what Snorri Kristjansson does to these two character, utterly amazed. 

As for King Olav another important character in the series. I started to like him, like him in failing his goals. From the start King Olav has been a bastard and his ways of "convincing'" people. Well it wasn't convincing too be honest. I really like to see him fail in his quest and how he has to flee and regroup, which also didn't really work out. Olav is one of the bad guys in the story and I am always a big fan when you see the antagonist story. It gives much flavor in seeing the actions and reaction, the fact that Snorri Kristjansson devotes from the start a lot of time on Olav and his cause only pays off in the long run.  

All in all Path of Gods is the finisher the series deserved, in every aspect Snorri Kristjansson improved his story telling and writing. The book features a lot of diversity when it comes to what happens, from action packed scenes down to a more easy steady pace when fronts had to regroup to some boisterous partying in between people and of course the revealing of the meddling affairs of a certain god and how the others react. When I first started reading Swords of Good Men I had never had dared to think in my wildest imagination that the story would go into this direction, but along the way Snorri Kristjansson kept on shaping and changing the story bit by bit carving a path in the good direction. It might be a bold statement, but The Valhalla Saga with Swords of Good Men, Blood Will Follow and Path of Gods, have definitely marked Snorri Kristjansson as an author to watch. Make sure you are at the front to see with what he will come up with next. I sure will be. 


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