Norse Code does some interesting things with Norse mythology. It also does some interesting thing for the urban fantasy genre in that it has a more serious feel to it than a lot of the urban fantasy I have read lately (which is to say I have been mostly running into paranormal romances lately). Despite many humorous and silly moments, this is a fairly serious story, which is fitting considering it is about Ragnarok.
Our heroine is a young woman named Kathy Castillo who has been brought back fromthe dead and drafted as a Valkyrie. Her job is to locate descendants of Odin and recruit them as Einherjar. When one of her recruitment attempts goes very,very wrong she ends up going on a quest in an effort to rescue her sister from Helheim. During her quest, she runs into Hermod who has been living quietly in California for the past few millennia. Hermod has a quest of his own to fulfill, which involves hunting down Angrboda’s wolves before they get big enough to eat the sun and moon. Kathy and Hermod team up, and that is when things start to get really weird.
Kathy is a very strong, interesting character. We are introduced to her long past whatever universe shattering reaction she might have had after finding that the cosmology she ended up in is not the one she had grown up with, which was an interesting change of pace. I think in many cases with this kind of story, you end up having it be more about the reaction and coping with it than the actual situation that needs to be resolved. This book skips that part and goes straight to the conflict between Kathy’s ideas of right and wrong and the ideas of right and wrong that are built into the cosmology.
Their quest leads them to Helheim where preparations for Ragnarok are occurring.After some adventures they run into Kathy’s sister Lilly who has apparently teamed up with Höd, who in turn have teamed up with a raggedy band of Depression era farmers. All of these alliances are in contrast with the political upheaval that is occurring among the Aesir who appear to be at each other’s throats, something I found to be thematically interesting. You have most of the gods turning against each other except for two who have teamed upwith mortals who have decided that this situation is ridiculous and they do not want to deal with it.
Another thing I found interesting is that Eekhout’s main villain (or more accurately,“antagonist”) is not one you would normally suspect. (It was an interesting twist and recalls that Ragnarok will be a time when everyone will be turning against each other.) I liked the resolution of the story and the characterization of the various gods. (I will note that the writer seems to be in the “Sigyn is passive aggressive” school of thought concerning her interactions with Loki.)