Grimnir is a monster, literally. The Norse call him skraelingr. To the Irish, he is the fomoraig, and to the English he is an orcneas. Born and raised to do war, for and against the old gods. Immortal, they spend their endless lives, longing for glory in the final battle of Ragnarok.
So Grimnir’s disposition is already brutal, but to add to it, he’s the very last of his kind. To say he’s a pissed-off is a gross understatement. And what’s a centuries-old, angry monster, who only finds satisfaction in violence, to do, all by himself, while waiting around for end-of-time? Seek bloody vengeance, of course. Word of the one called Half-Dane has drawn Grimnir out of his lair, for the Half-Dane is who betrayed Grimnir and his kin. Meanwhile, a new religion has usurped the Elder Gods. Followers of the White Christ have stomped out the Old Ways and those ancient powers are all but gone. In order for Grimnir to find the Half-Dane now, he’ll require a guide. So he gets one by kidnapping a young Christian, Aidan, and their quest will drive them across the war-ravaged countries of England and Ireland.
If Robert E. Howard and Poul Anderson collaborated on a novel, it would very much be like A Gathering of Ravens (2017). In fact, if there’s any new book out there that should sport a Frazetta-like cover illustration, it’s this one. Scott Oden creates a tone that is dark and primeval. The action is savage and instinctual. The conflict is wanton. But rather than simply be an awesome action-adventure story, A Gathering of Ravens runs deeper.
Like Howard and Anderson, Oden has their same natural creative ability to make a fantasy story not only seem more like historical fiction, but actually feel like true-life; like the truth that became the legend, that turned to myth, and was forgotten. I think there is yearning throughout humankind for gods and their mythologies. Novels like A Gathering of Ravens taps into that yearning.