How I discovered this book: I read the author's Storytellers and loved it, so looked forward to this.
In A Nutshell: A re-telling of Norse myths
I'm not the ideal reader for this book, as all I know about Norse mythology is (very) basic information about Odin, Thor, Freya and Loki, what Valhalla and Ragnarok are, and that's about it. Also, I am not a fan of fantasy, on the whole; magic and hallucinatory goings on - nah, you can keep it. However, I was hugely impressed by Storytellers and had read some excerpts of this before it was published, which I liked a lot, so wanted to take a look at this.
The main characters, their stories told alternately and in the first person, are Magni, son of Thor, and sorceress Maya, who has had a somewhat difficult upbringing, not least of all under the watchful eye of the goddess Freya, one heck of a piece of work, to say the least. I liked Maya; she was amusing and spunky. I loved Magni; yes, even when he was taking part in raids on farms, and killing people.
Children is atmospheric, clever, brutal, emotional, extremely well-written, intelligent, imaginative, and funny—and the dialogue is spectacularly good, some of the best I've read. Now and again, the dialogue and Magni's inner thoughts made me laugh out loud, which rarely happens when I read. The sexual activity in the book does not hold back, but get this: it didn't make me cringe. And that comes from someone who almost always cringes at sex scenes. Magni's feelings for Herjólf were so real, so well-portrayed; anyone who has ever been in love (or infatuated with) someone who remains elusive will feel Magni's pain throughout.
My favourite part was when Magni was first involved with the outlaws (I loved Ludo, too!), and I also liked Maya's encounter with Harbard, the idea of Idunn's fruit, Magni's conversations with his father, and the information about what each of the 'worlds' is all about, which interested me enough to look up more about Norse mythology.
Subject-wise, it wasn't absolutely my cup of tea, and I did get a bit confused with all the Norse names sometimes ('hang on, was that a person or a place?'), but it's definitely a novel of which Bjørn Larssen should be very proud indeed, and if the magical and mythological floats your boat, I would recommend that you buy it without delay.