By some kind of cultural serendipity, as the Guardian has pointed out, several Viking- inspired cultural events and book releases are happening, and I have recently read some amazing books inspired by Vikings, all of which involve journeys and have wonderful maps at the front.
The very wonderful children of the Big Green Bookshop book club chose the final book in Katherine Langrish's Troll series (published both separately and in one volume as West Of The Moon), Troll Blood. Orphaned Peer Ulfsson has been taken in by his friend Hilde's family, after his adventures with trolls in the first two books has left him without a guardian or a home. One day a Viking ship arrives in the harbour, and the captain, Gunnar, his vain son Harald Silkenhair and Gunnar's strange wife Astrid come to Hilde's house. Hilde is desperate to accompany Astrid on the voyage, and Peer is desperate to be with Hilde, so they (and the house troll, the Nis- similar to a British Hob or Brownie) sail for Vinland. However, Gunnar is haunted by the man he has killed, Harald's temper is becoming more uncontrollable, and what is Astrid's secret?
Katherine Langrish draws on both Norse and Native American mythology to create a wonderful, exciting read. It helps to have read the first two books, but Peer and Hilde's characters develop further in this story, and the setting away from Trollsvik and Troll Fell mean that new readers and old fans of the series are on more of an even footing. It also has a glossary of Norse and Native American mythology and terms.The book club loved this book, and so did I.
Where this books differs from the other in this post is that it is set in a fantasy world, albeit one that strongly resembles Yorkshire, and I enjoyed the incongruity of a Tolkeinesque fantasy without the High Fantasy "Forswear to be my foe, Magrin son of Bagrin" dialogue. Like the incomparable Terry Pratchett, Joanne Harris is able to make fantasy humorous without forgoing satisfying world-building and storytelling. Three great maps, a glossary and character list added to the enjoyment of this book for me.
I was given AS Byatt's Ragnarok for my birthday, but unfortunately work pressure being what it is I haven't had time to finish it yet: more serendipitous Norse mythology reworking for me to enjoy.
I would recommend Troll Blood to 9+, Bracelet of Bones to 12+ and Runemarks to 11+.
It was the first anniversary of this blog on 12th November. Thanks for reading, and for all the encouragement fellow bloggers and commenters have given me.