Darkness Forged by Matt Larkin

Series: Legends of the Ragnarok Era #0.5 Rating: 5/5
Date of Publishing: February 2nd 2017 Genre: fantasy, grimdark, dark fantasy, mythological fiction
Format: Kindle Available: Amazon, Barnes & Noble
Number of pages: 222 Author’s website: https://www.mattlarkinbooks.com/

Quote of the Book

“He’d have expected his thoughts would blur from deathchill, but instead they had sharpened into the clarity of a dream. A dream which, immersed within, might strike one as truth even as one knew it for illusion.”

Blurb

 Norse mythology retold - Volundarkvida

The greatest crafts on Midgard come from the dvergar realm of Nidavellir. Volund, a gifted smith and once apprentice to the dvergar, escaped their dark realm to find solace in the arms of a valkyrie.

Nine years of respite.

And then she was gone.

Volund will do anything to get her back. But his reputation precedes him, and a cruel king knows the weapons Volund forges can win his wars. Imprisoned in the king’s forge, Volund’s only hope to escape is to find his wife. If he can’t, more than the forge’s darkness will overtake him.

For even more dark Norse adventure, don't miss the tie-in series Gods of the Ragnarok Era, starting with The Apples of Idunn.

Personal notes

I’ve read this book first last year, and left a short and brief review of it, but looking back at it, it didn’t really give justice to the book. Since it’s pretty short and I happened to have some free time, I decided to reread and leave a much better deserved review. I was interested if I still loved it after all this time and how would I rate it now that I’m a bit harsher with my reviews/ratings.

Did you know that you can get this book free, if you join Matt Larkin’s mailing list? No? Then you are welcome. Also, the first book of the Gods of the Ragnarok Era series, The Apples of Idunn is an entrant in this years SPFBO, as well as the first book of the Runeblade Saga series, Days of Endless Night.

Song of the Book

When I was thinking what song to pick, I was pretty sure I have to go for something heavy and dark. Disturbed seemed a good choice, so I went to take a look at some of the songs that seemed promising. I ended up with The Asylum and The Animal. I choose the latter, because, well, read the book and find out.

Review

A classic Hungarian fairy tale usually features three brothers, who each goes on their own journeys to try and find their luck and a wife along the way. In these stories we always mostly follow the youngest brother, who ends up being the hero. Darkness Forged’s setting reminded me a bit of this structure. Except this is no fairy tale, the brothers already have wives and have no desire to leave their home. This tale is dark and twisted and one is unable to stop reading it. Also, don’t read this to any child, unless you want them to have nightmares.

Slagfid, Agilaz and Volund live in peace in the wilderness accompanied by their wives and Agilaz’s little son, Hermod. Until one day the three women goes missing, leaving behind only their rings. The brothers decide to follow the lead of their rings and try and take back their wives, no matter what it takes. To achieve that, they have to find battle and prove their worth, because this is the only way to attract the Valkyries’ attention.

“In the end, the bold might find early graves. But they alone took all the glory and all that was worth having in life, while those who cowered in fear languished in envy.”

Slagfid, the oldest of the three and the best swordsman joins to a town after swearing he’ll kill 8 enemies for princess Kelda. That part of the world is being attacked by the Niflung, an old race who want to regain their power and influence over the world and also to get their hands on the nine dvergar made swords owned by the kings of the Old Kingdoms. Agilaz, the middle brother, and probably the wisest of them all, is an exceptional bowman, as well as cunning. He arrives to Hadding jarl’s doorstep and circumstances make him stay longer than he anticipated. This is where he learns about the fate of his younger brother, Volund and sets out to meet him. But what he finds will haunt him for the rest of his life.

“Light was a temporary disturbance in the natural state of things. All fires would one day burn out, the last flames flicker to nothingness. Darkness was the truth.”

We learn the most about Volund, the youngest of the three brothers. As part of a bargain, he spends 2 years in Nidavellir learning the dvergar’s craft and become the best human smith. But this came with a price. When the only thing in his life giving him joy leaves him, he is determined to get her back. During his journey the news of his skills reaches King Nidud and in his hubris he forces Volund to become his servant. Little he knows what nightmare he woke up in Volund, a feat even his years in Nidavellir couldn’t accomplish. His love and need for his wife drives him to the edge, the cruelty of the world throws him over it. And he learns through a hard lesson what it means to make one’s own choices.

Darkness Forged is the entry to both the Gods of the Ragnarok Era and Runeblade Saga series by Matt Larkin, thus sets the tone of the world. It’s brutal, ruthless, merciless and cold. Nevertheless, Larkin is able to picture this world in a way that keeps you totally engrossed. It’s not a long book and you can finish it one sitting, but you won’t be able to get it out of your head for a long time. It’s been a year since I’ve read it first, and I still remembered vividly how I felt while reading it: fascination, dread, disgust, sorrow. Larkin can easily play with these emotions while balancing between the three main characters to give them more or less equal time to get their personalities and story arcs through. Admittedly, we get more of Volund, learning about his past with the dvergar which highlights how this experience changed him during his formative years. Also, this is a past he can’t get away from. No matter how hard or how far you run, your past will catch up with you sooner or later. Just ask him. Anyway, I really can’t criticise anything, maybe the only thing I can whine about is that this book is not at least twice as long and I have soooo many questions left. I sincerely hope the main series will give them to me. Then again, why the fuck didn’t I read on last year??

In Darkness Forged you might find everything you’ve been looking for: heroic fights, vengeance, violence (in many forms), enveloped in norse mythology. This book has an oddly satisfying ending on the bittersweet side. If you are into grimdark, norse mythology, have a few hours to spare and don’t mind having a dark twist in your read, I definitely recommend this book!

 

 

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