To quote one of my favourite movies, it’s time to “Crush your enemies. See them driven before you. Hear the lamentations of their women.”
The Raven’s Table is a GREAT collection of Viking stories from the pen (mightier than the sword?!) of Christine Morgan and publisher Word Horde. I think that the cover art and title gives away what this collection is about so I will get straight into the meat of it. I loved this book, loved it, loved it, loved it. Norse mythology has always held great fascination with this reader. Stories of Odin, Thor, Loki, tales of fierce battles, brotherhood and camaraderie, tales involving the skulling of many a mead by a fire after a day of plunder, it is wonderful stuff! I love it, and with this collection of stories, Christine Morgan has truly captured the essence of the Viking with stories that incorporate numerous themes and stories that will make you want to don your helm, sword and shield before riding off into battle.
The first tale, The Barrow Maid, dragged me in straight away. A tale of betrayal and the undead! It features disembowelment, murder and more. What a great start. With its string of near-unprenouncable names, we then enter bard territory for Thyf’s Tale, another great piece. Spiders and Trolls occupy the next couple of stories and what is beginning to stand out to me is the wonderful prose that takes you deep into these stories. It is as if you are hearing these stories told around a camp fire, deep in enemy territory, resting whilst you shine your axe. The heat from the fire and the strength of the mead making you feel relaxed and eager to hear more of these gripping Viking tales.
Old magic, the afterlife, shapeshifters and even a surprise appearance from the great old one himself all feature in The Raven’s Table. Morgan isn’t afraid to use familiar horror tropes in her stories, though they are used sparingly. The Vampire tinged Sven Bloodhair delivers in bloody spades. In this story, a clan leader is bitten during the capture of a strange woman and goes through a change that puts both his enemies and his friends in grave danger. Other horror themes are included but Morgan keeps them in the background and lets her characters shine. And shine they do, as brightly as the polished steel which they wield! The dialogue is superb, and it needed to be for the book to give you that epic mythological feel.
In case you haven’t guessed, I love this collection from Christine Morgan. I can imagine it being a bit too much perhaps for casual readers, but for though those of us that like a little Grimdark fantasy in our horror fiction, they would be well advised to invest in a copy of this fine, fine book.
Word Horde is a publisher that continues to deliver strong books. You never quite know what their next release will be as they are prone to release anything that has quality within its pages. They are one of the most consistent publishers out there in terms of editing, presentation and originality of their releases, long may it continue. Follow me now into Valhalla where we shall drink and celebrate long into the night!
5/5 bloodied swords from the Grim Reader.
Pick up a copy from here.