A Gathering of Ravens by Scott Oden

A Gathering of Ravens

To the Danes, he is skraelingr; to the English, he is orcneas; to the Irish, he is fomoraig. He is Corpse-maker and Life-quencher, the Bringer of Night, the Son of the Wolf and Brother of the Serpent. He is Grimnir, and he is the last of his kind--the last in a long line of monsters who have plagued humanity since the Elder Days.Drawn from his lair by a thirst for vengeanc...

Title:A Gathering of Ravens
Author:
Rating:
ISBN:0312372949
Format Type:Hardcover
Number of Pages:320 pages

A Gathering of Ravens Reviews

  • S.wagenaar
    Oct 24, 2016

    To start things off, this is one of the best historical fantasy novels, and one of the best books of any genre I have read in a long time. I don't read a lot of modern fantasy, as I find many of them too bloated with padding to achieve a high page count. Scott has done in some 350 pages what many a modern fantasy author fails to do in 500+ pages; entertain the hell out of me! This book simply kicks ass. The story is always moving forward, each scene informs and entertains while moving the plot f

    To start things off, this is one of the best historical fantasy novels, and one of the best books of any genre I have read in a long time. I don't read a lot of modern fantasy, as I find many of them too bloated with padding to achieve a high page count. Scott has done in some 350 pages what many a modern fantasy author fails to do in 500+ pages; entertain the hell out of me! This book simply kicks ass. The story is always moving forward, each scene informs and entertains while moving the plot forward. There is never a wasted word or scene that does not keep things going. I like that.

    The setting is Viking Age Britain, and especially Viking dominated Ireland on the eve of the Battle of Clontarf. Gimnir is our protagonist, and I'm not spoiling anything by saying he is an Orc, but he is not your father's Orc. Grimnir is mean, harsh and bad ass. He's crafty and he will kill you just because he can. He is like Conan with a hangover and a toothache. And he's your hero. If you like your tales gritty and rough, you are gonna love this story.

    Swords clash, shields are sundered and spears are shattered. You can smell the smoke, feel the grit in your eyes and taste the blood. Mr Oden writes great combat scenes, from one on one to full on battles with a cast of thousands. I feel he can match even Robert E Howard when it comes time to let loose some blood 'n' thunder. Also, I really enjoyed the contrast of paganism vs Christianity, of the old ways of magic and Gods and the new cult of the Nailed God.

    Basically, Grimnir is on a quest for revenge, and nothing is going to stop him from his vengeance. Not man, nor beast nor God. There are also a couple of human characters at the forefront of the story, but not so many as you will lose count(or interest). However, they are all fully fleshed out and interesting. The magic in the story is neat and organic, fitting the setting perfectly, but not dominating the story. Scott's background in Historical fiction shines through by giving everything a realistic feel; it really could have happened like this (and maybe should have!).

    In the end, this is truly an excellent novel, and should not be missed by anyone who loves a good adventure. This is one of the few sword and sorcery novels I have read that works well as a full length novel. You can call it Fantasy, or Historical Fantasy or even Grimdark if you want. But this here is some good old-fashioned S&S with an awesome pulp-adventure flavor that REH would would appreciate. And so should you.

  • Mogsy (MMOGC)
    Jun 20, 2017

    4 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum

    Ambitious in scope and audacious in its execution, A Gathering of Ravens spectacularly weaves together the threads of history and mythological tradition, spiriting readers away on a journey through legend and time. A master storyteller, author Scott Oden has combined elements from Norse and Celtic lore with the richness of the early medieval landscape to create a novel that is epic in every sense; we have bloodshed and tri

    4 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum

    Ambitious in scope and audacious in its execution, A Gathering of Ravens spectacularly weaves together the threads of history and mythological tradition, spiriting readers away on a journey through legend and time. A master storyteller, author Scott Oden has combined elements from Norse and Celtic lore with the richness of the early medieval landscape to create a novel that is epic in every sense; we have bloodshed and triumph, love and loss, tragedy and hope…and yes, we also have an Orc.

    Grimnir is the last of his kind. The Anglo-Saxons call him orcnéas, while the Danes name him skrælingr, but most would agree that he is a monster, an evil creature birthed from the earth’s dark depths. But in truth, he is a lot more than that, as the plot expands to reveal his quest for vengeance against Bjarki Half-Dane, the oathbreaker who killed his brother. When two weary followers of Christ unknowingly take shelter in his cave one stormy night, Grimnir kidnaps the younger of them as his hostage, forcing her to be his guide to the land across the sea. Frightened and grieving for her friend now lost to her, Étaín has no choice but to do what her beastly captor says, accompanying him through the Danish wilderness to the Ash Road, a secret passageway which would lead them to England.

    However, their journey does not go exactly as planned. Grimnir and Étaín arrive at their destination to find that changes have swept across the country, and the two of them are now outsiders in every possible way. Yet Grimnir remains undeterred in his desire for revenge, and in spite of herself, Étaín also begins to see more than the monster in the Orc. The two of them are now each other’s only ally, with faith and honor ultimately leading them to a shared purpose.

    The strength of this book lies in the author’s skill in evoking the spirit and atmosphere of a time gone by. He perfectly captures the life and culture of the people in this era. Throughout the early sections of A Gathering of Ravens, I could practically feel the bitter chill of the Danish hinterlands, sense its sharpness deep within my bones. As the story unfolds, we also got to see the cruelty and injustices of war, the power struggles that result between different groups when their religious beliefs collide. Scott Oden’s forte is clearly his interest and enthusiasm for history; that much can be gleaned from every page of this meticulously crafted novel. However, I also simply adore the fantasy he has injected into the mix, incorporating mythological elements and ancient folklore like the Celtic fairies and even a few allusions to the legend of Beowulf. It is precisely because of this melding of magical factors that makes historical fantasy one of my favorite subgenres.

    And of course, there are the Orcs. In his afterword, Oden describes his impetus behind the story’s premise, offering some excellent insight into his process of creating Grimnir. To tell the truth, it gave me an even greater appreciation for this book, knowing how the concept behind this fascinating character was conceived and executed. One thing you can be sure of is that Grimnir is most definitely not your traditional kind of hero. From the start, he was an enigma, brutal yet complex. I loathed his treatment of Étaín at first, and saw him as a villain, but gradually as their journey went on, I began to sympathize with his bloodthirsty quest. Their relationship—especially their transition to becoming eventual allies—was written very well and handled realistically. Along with Étaín, my eyes became open to the Orc’s deeper sense of honor and duty. It may not be as we understand it, but it does go a long way in making Grimnir seem more heroic and worthy of the reader’s support. Non-human protagonists are often tricky to pull off, but the author has shown that they can indeed work, somehow also making it look easy at the same time. While Oden may have set out to redeem the Orc, whether or not he achieved that is going to be up to the individual reader, though personally speaking I can honestly say that by the end of the book I was solidly won over by Grimnir and was rooting for him all the way.

    So, should you read A Gathering of Ravens? Well, if you enjoy historical fantasy novels of vast and epic proportions, then yes, yes you absolutely should. Scott Oden’s delectable prose and attention to detail brought this story to life before my eyes, immersing me in a riveting world steeped in history and myth. I was also amazed at how easy it was to instantly engage with plot and feel invested in the characters. Clearly there’s a whole lot here to fall in love with, and I would not hesitate to recommend this novel to all fans of dark historical or mythical fantasy. I can’t wait to read more by the author.

  • James Schmidt
    Feb 03, 2017

    My review today is for:

    A Gathering of Ravens by Scott Oden

    A copy of this book was provided to me in exchange for an honest review. My opinions are my own.

    Where do I begin with this epic historical fantasy? Let’s go back a little. I struck up an internet friendship with Scott after I kept seeing mention of his book. A book with Norse myths, and an Orc as the protagonist? Sign me up! I was not disappointed. I received a very early e-arc of the book thanks to Scott. I was in a huge reading slump an

    My review today is for:

    A Gathering of Ravens by Scott Oden

    A copy of this book was provided to me in exchange for an honest review. My opinions are my own.

    Where do I begin with this epic historical fantasy? Let’s go back a little. I struck up an internet friendship with Scott after I kept seeing mention of his book. A book with Norse myths, and an Orc as the protagonist? Sign me up! I was not disappointed. I received a very early e-arc of the book thanks to Scott. I was in a huge reading slump and needed something to help me snap out of it. This book did that and so much more. I don’t think I have ever been more excited for a new book to come out. If ever there was a book that was me, or for me, it is this book.

    Scott has seamlessly weaved a modern saga full of Norse myth and culture, a Norse, English, and Irish medieval historical setting, and the battle of old religions and new. This masterpiece is full of complex characters, gory battles, and a realistic and well researched historical setting. Oh, and did I mention Orcs! Yes, you read that right. But how you may ask. Our main character is the one and only Grimnir.

    “To the Danes, he is skraelingr; to the English, he is orcnéas; to the Irish, he is fomoraig. He is Corpse-maker and Life-quencher, the Bringer of Night, the Son of the Wolf and Brother of the Serpent. He is Grimnir, and he is the last of his kind―the last in a long line of monsters who have plagued humanity since the Elder Days.”

    This is not your normal protagonist. He is not someone to root for (but I did) or to be your champion. He is mean, nasty, ill tempered, and only has vengeance on his mind! My kind of Orc. Honestly this character is amazing. I am very impressed with the way this character was conceived and executed. Bravo Mr. Oden! The other cast of characters are on par with Grimnir, complex and multilayered, but none have his ability to demand your complete attention.

    The setting is an amazingly detailed, historically accurate medieval Europe. Well researched and realized in this novel. Norse, English, and Irish myth and culture collide with the new religion of the Nailed God. The world is in a monumental struggle to see which one will survive. I think this struggle between the old ways and the new was one of the biggest high points for me in this book. Something I have diligently researched on my own. The author has done a spectacular job of bringing this struggle into a real life battle within his novel. Did I just say battles? I think I did, and there are plenty of bloody, gore stained battles in this book. Not overly gory, but enough to get your blood pumping. Action, adventure, battles, religion, history, and most importantly phenomenal characters. What more can you ask for!

    In conclusion Scott Oden has a novel that is one of the best books I have read in a long time. I expect it to stay firmly planted at the top of my best of 2017 list. I rarely have such a bond with a book and a character as I have with A gathering of Ravens and with Grimnir. I am beside myself with excitement to see what comes next in this epic saga!

    As you know if you have read my reviews before I am not about long reviews with synopsis and spoilers. I just give my opinion on my experience with this book and you can take it from there. Now on to the next book.

    5/5 Stars! - MightyThorJRS

    You can find all my reviews here:

  • Drew
    Jul 11, 2017

    As always this review can also be found on my blog The Tattooed Book Geek:

    Meet Grimnir, loveable, kind, caring, eloquent, polite, well mannered, sociable and pacifist cuddle bunny.

    Faugh! Meet Grimnir, snarky, foul-mouthed, bad-tempered, mean, vile, obstinate, brutal, loner, all around badass, your new favourite anti-hero and a fucking awesome character!

    You know by now that whenever possible I avoid spoilers or detailed analysis of the story in my reviews

    As always this review can also be found on my blog The Tattooed Book Geek:

    Meet Grimnir, loveable, kind, caring, eloquent, polite, well mannered, sociable and pacifist cuddle bunny.

    Faugh! Meet Grimnir, snarky, foul-mouthed, bad-tempered, mean, vile, obstinate, brutal, loner, all around badass, your new favourite anti-hero and a fucking awesome character!

    You know by now that whenever possible I avoid spoilers or detailed analysis of the story in my reviews and in this case, I think that the blurb does a great job of outlying the overall story for you anyway.

    Clocking in at 337 pages in length, A Gathering of Ravens is a short book but it is brilliantly paced, short, sharp chapters keep the story ever moving forward and there's no wasted words or scenes cluttering up the narrative. Everything written has a point and helps to propel the story onwards building to the inevitable climax and Grimnir's chance to enact his revenge.

    The writing found in A Gathering of Ravens is high quality, the characters, emotion, humour and the locations used in the book are all brought to life with the descriptive fast paced writing of Oden.

    The world building is excellent, the mixture of Norse, Dane and Irish mythology all woven together works really well set against the backdrop of the historical medieval Europe setting.

    The magic used is subtle and the Norse myths, standing stones, spirits, wights, witches and familiars that are encountered all feel organic to the story.

    Another stellar aspect of the book is that of religion. The old Pagan ways of magic, creatures and Gods are dying out, being poisoned, forgotten and replaced by the new faith in Christianity and The Nailed God. This is where Oden pulls a genius masterstroke, by giving Grimnir a companion, pairing him with the devout young Christian Etain for a large part of the story. Taking what would otherwise have been a very solitary journey for Grimnir and turning it into something far more. Yes, a journey towards the end goal of revenge for Grimnir but also a journey of self-discovery for the pair.

    During the arduous journey, encompassing Denmark, Ygdrassil, England and finally Ireland we are shown their two opposing and conflicting views of the world. Both are stubborn, set firm in their beliefs and ways. Grimnir with the old ways, Etain with the new and throughout the events that take place on their travels together, self-discovery, reluctant respect and admiration grows between the two.

    Grimnir's tale is a gory one, it’s a blood-soaked tale of revenge. He’s out to settle a centuries old score and there's plenty of fighting that takes place throughout A Gathering of Ravens to back up his quest for vengeance. From one on one fights to full-scale battles and Oden writes them all brilliantly, you really get a feel for Grimnir's savagery and the wicked glee that he takes in combat.

    I really liked Etain as a character, she gets dragged along on Grimnir's journey and is often the perfect foil for him. Also, Bjarki Half-Dane the object of Grimnir's revenge. But at its core, A Gathering of Ravens is Grimnir's tale and as such, he is the focal point of the story and what a character to base the book around!

    Grimnir is not your stereotypical protagonist, far from it, usually an orc set on gaining vengeance would be the antagonist, the bad guy in the tale, but he's not and Oden, thanks to his characterization manages to turn him from someone you should despise into someone you can't help but like and root for. While not overly complex (sometimes you don't want or need a complicated character in a story, just a badass who isn't afraid to get their hands dirty, to shed blood and get the job done) he really is an ingenious creation.

    A Gathering of Ravens was a book that I'd been eagerly anticipating since the beginning of the year. After subsequently reading both good and bad things about the book, suffice to say, my anticipation had been slightly tempered and that my expectations upon starting were rather mixed. Now, after finishing, I can safely say that those fears were unfounded and that I fucking loved everything about A Gathering of Ravens. Grimnir, the rest of the characters, the writing, the world building, the story being told and I personally, cannot find anything to pick fault over.

    With the perfect blend of mythology and fantasy, A Gathering of Ravens is an outstanding read and sure to be one of the books of the year.

  • Liz
    Jun 15, 2017

    Eh, but this is going to be such a difficult review for me, because even though I could see the things I could appreciate, there was something about the book overall that failed to fully capture me and convert me into a diehard fan.

    A Gathering of Ravens is a story of revenge, set in the time of Vikings when the power play in between Odin and Jesus was in full swing. (And we all know who came out on top, damn it!) The historical settings, myth and magic are intertwined as Grimnir (an evil, ugly A

    Eh, but this is going to be such a difficult review for me, because even though I could see the things I could appreciate, there was something about the book overall that failed to fully capture me and convert me into a diehard fan.

    A Gathering of Ravens is a story of revenge, set in the time of Vikings when the power play in between Odin and Jesus was in full swing. (And we all know who came out on top, damn it!) The historical settings, myth and magic are intertwined as Grimnir (an evil, ugly AF orc) takes hostage a Christian to be his guide in England. Together they travel from Denmark via Yggdrasil to England. On the way they meet dwarves, get up to all sorts of super violent and bloody shenanigans and generally have a proper spat over whose god is the best!

    The second half of the book takes us closer to the ‘revengee‘. We are now in Ireland, Dublin and get introduced to elves, nature spirits, a couple of witches and local armies battling it out. We get a great look at the Half Dane who Grimnir is after and the implications of his power and ambition. TBH, anything that Grimnir might have in store for him, no Christian would stand in the way of. Half Dane is awful.

    So, a couple of observations overall:

    That Grimnir needed a guide, is questionable. I am more than certain that Grimnir the mighty Corpse-maker and Life-quencher, the Bringer of Night, the Son of the Wolf and Brother of the Serpent would have managed just fine on his own on the journey to find Half-Dane. He had the means and tools to not need a Christian ‘fellow’ hanging with him. The only reason those two characters were thrust together was purely for the ‘entertainment‘ factor, I suspect, upon which the above mentioned religious spat depended on.

    Another thing with the mixology of myth, history and otherwordly beings was just that I felt there was a whole pile of different elements put into the story and as such most of their presences were fleeting and not entirely built upon to their full potential. OK, their parts in the story were valid and necessary to play their part, but I didn’t get entirely not enough of them… I would have liked to have more of a hand in play by the Witches, dwarves, elves and spirits. But that’s just me… personal preference alert here, guys!

    The first half of the book went rather slowly for me because all it was was a strong clash of beliefs with a trippy trip via Yggdrasil and nothing but brutal behavior. The second half of the book was more full bodied and had a lot more going on. Still, reading A Gathering of Ravens was a bit laborious for me… the characters didn’t go through tangible development, there was a whole lot more praying going on than I could stomach and all the brutality (whether by action or word) felt a bit automatic or mechanical because it moved from one bloody murder to the next bloody beating… Essentially, this is a book of bloody action to the extremes but without any real substance to the characters which I would have liked. Simply explaining actions by way of their respective religion gave me no indication of the people behind and beyond their religion. Well, no.. I lie… everyone in this book was evil in a way, Christian or heathen. But yes, I guess what was missing was soul… (I’m laughing here now…Do evil beings even have souls? let me ask the Christian!) See? I told you, it’s a hard review to write… I don’t even know!

    So yes, I have to admit, Grimnir’s ‘statements‘/dialogues were fantastically principled and loyal to Odin and the Old ways, with bits of evil contempt and sarcasm thrown in but I don’t know if it’s just because he was an Orc, but that was pretty much all there was to him and it got a bit old rather soonish.

    Having said all of the above, I can see and appreciate how certain elements were used to create this historical fantasy and all the pieces did fit together well enough. I don’t consider myself an expert in historical fact, myth or old tales to be able to analyze them and give you a factual overview.

    You can expect some flashbacks to get you up to speed for why an Orc is seeking for revenge, also some rhymes and tons of interesting characters making their rather short but useful appearances and… yeah, I’m saying it again- some bloody gore… Odin’s will is going to be read from livers…

    I think this is a book that will either completely and utterly satisfy a reader or not be what was expected at all… I’m sitting smug in the middle… It was in parts great, in parts not so much but I sure am happy I read the book and I look forward to reading more reviews of the book!

  • Joshua Robertson
    Jun 24, 2017

    A Gathering of Ravens was my introduction to Scott Oden’s work, and after completing the mytho-historical story, I am now scouring his backlist for another appealing tale. The story is imposing and dark, deftly woven by Oden to mix legend and history, telling of the last Orc and his quest for revenge. If you like action, complex characters, and gory battles, this book is worth reading.

  • Cora ☕ Tea Party Princess
    Jun 29, 2017

    I don't read a lot of them, but I do love historical fantasy. And this one was pretty much perfect.

    It did take a little while to get going, but once Aidan was revealed I was hooked. And once we got to all of the added politics later in the second half I couldn't put it down.

    I loved the setting, how vast and realistic everything felt. I loved the mix of history and mythology, and I loved how the different religions explored strengthened the pl

    I don't read a lot of them, but I do love historical fantasy. And this one was pretty much perfect.

    It did take a little while to get going, but once Aidan was revealed I was hooked. And once we got to all of the added politics later in the second half I couldn't put it down.

    I loved the setting, how vast and realistic everything felt. I loved the mix of history and mythology, and I loved how the different religions explored strengthened the plot and the world. I'm not a fan of gore, but I did find that although this book had its fair share (it wouldn't have worked otherwise) that it wasn't too much and I could carry on reading without too much personal discomfort.

    It's a pity that this is a standalone, as I would love to read more.

  • Alice (marriedtobooks)
    Jul 06, 2017

    For anyone who likes historical fantasy or mythology, this is the book to go to! I would like to thank Tom over at Bantem Press for the opportunity to read A Gathering of Ravens for review and taking part in a promotional tour for it. This is an adult fantasy that was pitched as a "Beowulf meets Lord of The Rings." Having not read either of those books/series, I was going into reading this not knowing much about what to expect or how the ending was going to turn out.

    This is set across the years

    For anyone who likes historical fantasy or mythology, this is the book to go to! I would like to thank Tom over at Bantem Press for the opportunity to read A Gathering of Ravens for review and taking part in a promotional tour for it. This is an adult fantasy that was pitched as a "Beowulf meets Lord of The Rings." Having not read either of those books/series, I was going into reading this not knowing much about what to expect or how the ending was going to turn out.

    This is set across the years 999AD and 1014AD with settings in Denmark, England and Ireland. The story follows Grimnir who is trying to travel across the oceans to Ireland to face his nemesis. He finds and kidnaps a woman called Étain who he holds hostage and also kills her companion Njall but whose presence still lingers in the story. Since I am not an expert on this genre, I don't want to ramble on about historical fantasy but for potential readers, there are a few gory scenes throughout and tons of battles but also great worldbuilding and in my ARC edition were two maps, the part of England where the novel was set is where I'm actually from so it was nice seeing some references to Glastonbury (don't live there but know it very well).

    This book is available for purchase!

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