When a sinister creature murders one of the conquerors’ soldiers, Brohr’s violent reputation makes him the prime suspect. Haunted by a rage-filled ghost, Brohr’s disturbing possessions quickly become the reason for all of his troubles…and the only way he can survive. With a grandfather bent on dragging him into a failed rebellion, and a deadly comet hurtling toward his embattled world, Brohr sets off on a quest to save his people and uncover the truth about a war stretching back into the ancient past. Can he discover the true power of a Skald’s voice before the world itself ends in ash and flame?
Brohr has always been shunned and hated, an outcast. His very existence the result of his mother's rape. Living with his grandfather in their village hoping to get away with one person who he thought loved him but after an incident in which she see's his rage, something that Brohr hoped to never reveal. A month lapses and he discovers that she's now with another at the Tavern, things go from bad to worse. Resulting in Brohr have too much to drink and ending the night in a fight at the docks. All while a comet is streaking across the sky, which sets so many things in motion and his life is never the same again.
This novel might not be everyone's horn of mead, it is brutal at parts, but if you enjoy your fantasy on the darker side then you are in for a treat with The Skald's Black Verse. There is a lot happening in this novel. A blend of science fiction and fantasy, black magic, Norse mythos and interplanetary race who have conquered and oppressed.
Secrets and truths, sinister beings.
Well written, fast paced with a wide cast of characters. A fantastic debut novel from author Jordan Loyal Short, looking forward to book 2.
Dark, gritty and filled with all that epic fantasies should have, including a mysterious ghost with a penchant for haunting his twin brother. Whose rage does the violent warrior feel? Is it Brohr’s own or has his brother possessed him? Meanwhile, his war-torn land could be decimated by a deadly comet. Can Brohr become the savior of his land or will the rage consume him first? What links the present to a bloody past and who is the Skald?
THE SKALD’S BLACK VERSE by Jordan Loyal Short is rich in detail, bringing his tale to life with a foreboding atmosphere and characters that are intense. Good dialogue, rapid-fire action scenes, explosive magic and wicked political machinations.
Like all good fantasy, this is one to savor and become part of, so pay attention and become more than a fly on the wall in this world. Fans of dark fantasy will enjoy the grit, the quest and the seemingly unbeatable obstacles along the way for Brohr.
I received a complimentary copy from Jordan Loyal Short! This is my honest and voluntary review.
Series: Dreadbound Ode - Book 1 Publication Date: November 6, 2018 Publisher: Jordan Loyal Short Genre: Dark Fantasy Print Length: 335 pages Available from: Amazon For Reviews, Giveaways, Fabulous Book News, follow: http://tometender.blogspot.com
A review of The Skald’s Black Verse By Jordan Loyal Short
I picked this book up expecting a Norse themed fantasy, I like Norse themed fantasy. So I’m reading it and its starts very much as I would expect, very Norse, very fantasy. The opening scene is pretty damn brutal and there is some intriguing dark elements. Cool. Then boom! Out of nowhere, some guy flies in on some kind of inter-planetary voidship and lands in this Norse setting – Well that got my attention. I was not expecting that! It quickly became apparent this is not your average Norse fantasy yarn.
So, let me tell you about The Black Skalds Verse by Jordan Loyal Short. Okay, we have the indigenous people of this setting, the Norns, a very Nordic style culture. Who at some time in the recent past were conquered and are now occupied, perhaps oppressed, by an interplanetary federation of a people called the Tyrianites. As I said the opening scene is pretty brutal and introduces us to the character Anders, who is an secret Skald who can use blood magic. The Skalds were leaders of the Norn culture and were stamped out and pushed into hiding when the conquest came, few surviving. A child is born and the hint of dark magic is suggested. We fast forward and the child is grown and we meet our first main POV character, Brohr, as an young adult. He lives with his grandfather, Anders, in the occupied village of Skoljias and who is a mixed race Norn and Tyrianite, fathered through rape during the conquest and known as a “shade” due to his darker skin. Brohr wants nothing more than to flee the village to another place known as Pederskald with his girlfriend and his dog. The guy that flew in on the void ship is Perfect Brasca, our second main POV character. Brasca seems to be wrestling with his fair share of personal demons and is the new commander of the garrison occupying Skoljia, a lowly backwater assignment. His job is to maintain the occupation and prevent any uprising from rebellious Norns. We have four main POV characters in all, we have Lyssa, a tavern maid who is close to an elderly wise woman and who is drawn into the plot by seemingly being in the wrong place at the wrong time. We also have Henrik who is the son of the Mayor of Skoljia. Both his father (the Major) and himself are magic users and Henrik is equally drawn in to the plot by being at the same wrong place and the wrong time as Lyssa. This afore mentioned place and time being a murder to which both of them are witness and which Brohr is then accused. But all is not what it seems, there is a dark ghostly shadow figure there also, and we wonder what connection it has to the surviving Skald Anders’ blood magic. All very intriguing. I won’t tell you what happens as you will have to read it.
It’s a story of occupation, oppression and rebellion, of dark blood magic and strange dark forces, and a people of tradition fighting to free itself of an oppressive yolk. There are some super cool parts to this story, there are the cool dark creatures we get to see at various points – You’ll enjoy those! And a whole planet is destroyed and smashes into another one, that’s pretty cool, it’s done very well too. I really enjoyed this book, it quickly surprised me and took a direction I was not at all expecting. I love the cultures, the magic system, the spaceships and the interplanetary communication. Theres lots of action and peril. It’s a great book! I’d very much recommend it. I’ll be looking forward to reading more work from this author. Check it out!
In The Skald’s Black Verse, Jordan Short crafts an ambitious dark fantasy novel.
The novel’s protagonists, Brohr, has a violent reputation. When a sinister creature murders a conqueror‘s soldier he becomes the prime suspect. After miracoulously surviving the odds, Brohr sets off on a quest to save his people and uncover the truth about a war stretching back into the ancient past. With time, he discovers his fits of rage are, in reality, moments of possession by the ghost of his rage-fuelled twin-brother.
Fans of dark fantasy will enjoy Short’s rich description and the horror-nuanced tone throughout. However, the novel’s grand-scale nature—coupled with a slowly developing storyline—negatively impacts momentum in places. Short offers great detail regarding many of the main characters’ back stories; while this adds depth, the pacing slows markedly in places, and the story could use trimming.
While the premise is intriguing, the writing has some failings. In places the story has too little focus on tension and narrative intensity. In a large cast of characters who get screen time, only Brohr stood out as a memorable one. I didn’t care at all about Henrik, Anders or Lyssa.
Short has a knack for the detail and complexity. His writing is straightforward and thorough, the dialogue is varied, and he shines in the action sequences. He is dedicated to his imagined world, and even through its denser stretches, his attention to detail makes his text come to life.
The book ends with significant questions unanswered, but I expect nothing else from a book one in the series.I would say it’s an interesting debut that could use some trimming and additional editing focused on engaging the reader in the narrative more effectively.
The Skald’s Black Verse takes a personal look at what it means to live under your oppressor’s thumb as a conquered people. It takes place in a small village on a planet that was overtaken by a superior branch of humanity. We watch as both the conquered and the conquerors deal with planetary level destruction and certain doom, and I have to say that I loved it.
There are quite a few characters but I didn’t struggle with remembering them. Brohr is dealing with a curse after his grandfather made a dark pact. Lyssa is a sneaky and resourceful bar maid, and Brasca is taking charge of the town for the Federals. Henrik stepped in later and was used to show how little control the nominal provincial leaders really had.
It’s a tough and interesting bunch of characters. I like them and will leave it at that since the biggest surprises and plot twists come in character form.
He’d been a fool to think he could manage the end of the world
Plot and action wise, the story itself was fast paced and I flew through this book. As the conflict deepened and the plot became apparent it turned into an easy two day read.
I am a lover of all things world building and this is where the book excelled. We see so much of the local food, herbs, medicine, religion, and way of life of the local Norn people. A lot of culture is revealed as the Federals tried to snuff it out in favor of cultural assimilation.
The folklore element is also strong as it ties into both the local and imposed religions. The runic binding that can fly spaceships is considered proper magic while the Skald songs are the black, illegal, blood and witchcraft type. What I wanted was more conflict between the two magics since it was one of the first things out of Brasca’s mouth. The two magics have vastly different uses although both require blood and sacrifice. The Skald Songs were well fleshed out while there’s a lot of potential for the Binders going forward in the series.
I thought that just due to the scope of the novel towards the end, I felt a disconnect between the sci-fi and dark fantasy element. More from the binding and rune lore was needed to close that gap but I think I see it coming in book two. I also don’t think Brohr was prepared to step into the role that he did at the end, considering that he was never taught the rituals.
To a man who fears death, even suffering is precious
Overall: I can definitely appreciate apocalypse and LOVED the setting and scenery, mood and atmosphere, lore and fighting spirit that kept the book feeling more congruous than not. It‘s interesting, it’s fast paced, it’s grimdark, it’s brutal, and some scenes aren’t for the fainthearted. Would recommend for fans of dark SFF!
THE SKALD'S BLACK VERSE by Jordan Loyal Short is a science-fiction fantasy novel that takes place on an isolated world at the heart of a vast interstellar empire. The planet was conquered long ago and has been ground down to a Medieval subsistence. However, with a looming natural disaster, the seeds of rebellion are planted that are aided by mysterious supernatural forces.
The world-building of this book is something that I really enjoyed. The village of Skolja is a Viking-themed Medieval sort of place but it is dominated by foreign forces that came from the sky and conquered the place three generations ago. There's hints of Braveheart, Warhammer 40K, and Skyrim in the world-building. The book walks a fine line between justifying the anachronistic mixture of technology as even the invading humans from space are a crude theocratic organization halfway Roman and half-way Catholic.
The take on colonialism is an interesting one as while the Empire is depicted as arrogant and oppressive, the reaction to this oppression is handled in different ways. The mayor of Skolja cooperates with them and attempts to mediate any problems, believing peace is the ideal. Unfortunately, the local Prefect could not care less about these efforts and just wants to be reassigned. His son is ambivalent about all of it, not realizing how important his father's role as a collaborator is.
Contrasting this is Brohr, a local half-breed citizen who has just lost his girlfriend due to savagely beating a man in front of her. Brohr is possessed by his dead brother's ghost and it gives him vast supernatural powers that are just bubbling under the surface. Brohr's grandfather wants to avenge his fallen people and is willing to use his own blood as a weapon to do so, no matter the cost. The fact his grandfather is obsessed with racial purity, long ago wrongs, and vengeance makes him a less sympathetic rebel than usually is the case in these kind of stories.
Really, this is a book that thrives on its characters and the fact that it mostly relates to a single village on a remote planet gives it a very interesting feel. I'd argue this is a kind of blackish space age steampunk but it also possesses quite a bit of magic to go along with its weird tech. The skalds of the world knew many forms of magic that have since been outlawed by the empire but are slowly making a return. Magic is dark and twisted, dealing with alien entities, that enhances the feel of sorcery. It is an evil and unnatural thing but perhaps the only advantage the native peoples have.
This is a book full of moral ambiguities that I enjoyed. The colonizers are a bunch of selfish jerks but the majority of them are just doing their jobs, the initial atrocities having happened a long time ago. The resistance to them is ambivalent and bordering on banditry with the ideologues having mostly aged out. The typical Skolja citizens has adapted to the new way of life and are more concerned about where their next meal is coming from rather than the occupiers of their planet. The residents of Skolja feels like a combination of a Scot, Norseman, and various fishing peoples that help them feel familiar without feeling identical to these cultures.
Practicality also dictates that this tiny resource-poor world with no technology is unable to do squat against the empire anyway. The empire won against the locals because they had better numbers, technology, and magic. This is an unsympathetic and uncaring world that doesn't have any real natural sense of justice. If they successfully revolt, they'll just get crushed with the next wave but that doesn't mean much to people who want blood more than victory. All of the ideologies competing here mean nothing to the comet that's about to hit the neighboring moon and shower the planet in debris, too. In the face of an uncaring natural disaster, all the talk about freedom and oppression may be secondary to survival.
In conclusion, this is a solid and entertaining piece of fantasy science fiction. I'm a big fan of Warhammer 40K and this is very similar with a "ground's eye" view of what being the subject of a vast interstellar civilization would be like for the average citizen. The depiction of brutality from colonizer to colonized, the inhumanity of man, generation grudges, poverty, and religious fanaticism are all intriguing to read as well. This is extremely well-written grimdark and if you like your fantasy and sci-fi gritty as well as depressing then this is a book you should pick up.
The Skald’s Black Verse is a combination of genres where a medieval Norse style town of Norns has been invaded by aliens called Tyrianites. The invasion happened some time ago when we join the story and the town of Skolja is occupied by the invading forces, with a Tyrianite federal prefect named Brasca Quoll in charge. There is a caste system in place and people can climb the ranks by taking part in the ‘Rite of Submission’ setting aside the old gods and worshipping the Tyrianite pontiff instead. The organizational structure of the Tyrianites brought to mind the Romans with legionaries and prefects. There is no doubt as to who is in charge:
“The prefect was a strange mix of pragmatism and idealism. He realized that if he did not prove useful in the coming ordeal, Brasca Quoll would happily cut his throat and forgo diplomacy. If it came to rebellion, Henrik would not survive. Regardless of the outcome.”
Against this background a comet is seen racing across the sky and the invading forces begin evacuating their moon base in preparation for the comet hitting the moon and causing chaos.
Brohr is our main character – a half Tyrianite, the product of a rape by the invaders. He often becomes consumed with uncontrollable rage which leads to violence and he seems unable to control it. He is hated by the Norn townsfolk since his darker skin colour reminds them of the invasion. He is blamed for the murder of a legionnaire who was probably his father, but he and two other witnesses know deep down he didn’t actually kill the man. The crime was much more mysterious, perpetrated by a dark shade without recognizable features. A creature from their folklore – but surely no one will believe such a story. All of these elements drive him towards rebellion.
Meanwhile Henrik’s father, the mayor, has been building a spaceship for escaping the planet during just such an occasion – will it even fly though?
The characters in this unusual story are fully fleshed out and believable- I liked Lyssa the unconventional barmaid turned apothecar’s apprentice who prefers wearing more masculine clothing and I sympathized with Brohr who is hounded and hated wherever he goes. His temper loses him the girl he loves and his grandfather Anders, a skald and a practitioner of dark, blood magic, has never been particularly kind to him. Henrik and his father are also magic users and have taken the Rite of Submission. When the mayor and his wife are killed by witch fire for being collaborators, their son Henrik Torvald, a user of rune magic, will surely take over as mayor – but he is not as subservient towards the federal prefect as his father had been:
“Before his father’s murder, he’d disliked the prefect as a bland representative of that distant power that had devastated his people. Another rival to trade insults with, perhaps. Another arrogant federal. But he didn’t hate their might, he respected it; he hated their ridiculous culture. Their ridiculous religion that deified a politician, that mercantilized superstition, with offerings of coin or blood or flowers that bought happiness in the afterlife.”
The worldbuilding in this debut novel is excellent – I could really visualize Skolja and it’s houses and buildings. We learn about the religion and cultural customs as we go and also those of the Tyrianite invaders via excerpts and quotes from their writings at the beginning of each chapter.
The tone is dark, with a brutal prologue that some will find hard to read and violence following Brohr wherever he goes, but if you enjoy this type of dark fantasy you will definitely enjoy The Skald’s Black Verse. There is plenty of fast-paced action, interesting cultures, space travel, planets colliding, folkloric creatures – so much to love!
Wow that was so good, I had to buy the second book The Weeping Sigil, A fantastic blend of fantasy with beautiful twist of science fiction mixed together, Brohr is a halfling, a pig, well to some anyway, born of the rape of his mother by the invaders, his twin brother still born during the birth, lives inside him, his anger, hated, shunned and blamed for murder and is sentenced to death, can his brother get him out of his perilous predicament he is in, Brohr must learn to tap into his magical blood, a rebellion is stirring, while all the trouble makers are being rounded up and executed, there's a darker force at play here, an ancient horror the old one is coming and y'all better be ready when it does, absolutley amazing, Vikings and Spaceships, what more could you want, Dark and grim characters, the plot and worldbuilding are sublime, the narration by Aaron Smith gives an awesome performance, cracking sound effects that enhances the experience, highly recommend.
I was contacted by the author for an honest review, and I am happy to provide it.
First Impressions Potentially triggering for some. The books opens with a traumatic birthing scene, and the pregnancy was conceived of rape.
We meet one of the major movers of the story, and this short, bloody, ugly chapter sets the tone for much for the rest of the story. Despite this, it never veers into cheesy grimdark territory, which I thought was pretty skilful. Bleak, maybe, but not that.
Characters/ Characterization Although the characters are easily differentiated, their voices are not really unique. They felt one-dimensional and predictable, especially Anders. As a moustache-twirling villain none of his actions came as a surprise. Lyssa was a generic action girl, Brohr was a generic conflicted anti-hero. I felt that Henrik is the most developed, being a lot less black-and-white than the rest. He was predictable in that he had a specific goal and moved towards it, but how he would do so was less clear and so he was interesting in that sense.
Plot As I said before, a lot of things happen, and there's a kind of whiplash towards the middle as the story's direction changes abruptly. Despite this, there is never hopelessness - everyone is fighting, moving on, finding solutions.
The interplay between the conquerors and the conquered was, alas, all too familiar from real-world situations. Brohr is the awaited savior, but he is nothing like what they think their savior will be. There is a shadowy presence of eldritch creatures who oversee this world, and they are running the show. A prophecy of doom is already afoot, and genocide appears to be the only outcome.
Prose Short, detailed and straightforward. Excellent for action sequences, stilted for emotional scenes. As there is far more action than drama, there is less awkwardness to put up with.
A fun story that combines elements of science fiction and fantasy, and introduces a world that I want to learn more about. The decision to set the bulk of the story in a single fairly small village was an interesting one and the author pulls it off, exploring or hinting at the strange vistas and histories of his universe in a story that in many ways follows the format of a small town supernatural thriller.
The basic story is simple: man makes a deal with evil forces to fight an occupying power and imbues his grandson – a product of his daughter being taken by force by the conquerors – with inhuman powers, and it was quite a ride following the cast of characters. I eagerly await reading the next installment.
I was asked to describe the kind of books I liked the other day, and I said ‘fantasy, the darker, the better’ and that is very much why I loved The Skald’s Black Verse, although I would say that it is more science-fantasy that pure fantasy. I also liked that I was caught entirely by surprise when what had been set up as a world/story with Norse vibes, shifted gears with the unexpected arrival of a voidship with interplanetary invaders. For some books, this might have been a gamble too far, but here it is brilliantly executed, and it takes the best of the more traditional Norse inspired stories and twists it into something refreshing and new. There is nothing gentle about this book, and it must be noted that the first chapter, in particular, is brutal to read and may not be for everyone. However, while it is shocking and firmly places the book immediately onto the dark spectrum of fantasy, it is done with a purpose and is important to the rest of the plot. It also feeds into the atmosphere of the book, which is decidedly bleak, although not entirely without hope. This is a world of conquered vs conqueror, of blood magic and possessions, with a looming threat of a comet rushing towards a world that is already on a precipice, and where there are no easy choices and possibly no right answers either, and there is a delicious moral greyness to most the characters as they wrestle with those choices. There was a lot happening in this book, from the character level with Brohr’s haunting, to simmering rebellion and beyond and for the most part it was well-balanced between the four main characters, and a rich cast of secondary characters, and the events happening around them. There were a few places where it felt as though the context of the story was lost a little, at least until the end, where aspects of the blurb were made clearer, although it did add an element of mystery that had me unable to put the book down as I needed to find out what happened next. However, the writing – particularly for the fight scenes, and the complexity of the plot, more than made up for it and kept me firmly in the flow of the book as the characters themselves. They weren’t always likeable, but their choices and struggles rang true and reflected the world around them, and I am torn between Brohr and Henrick as my favourites, although all the characters had their moments to shine. This was a fantastic book and a stand out debut, that was nothing like what I had expected and everything I love about dark fantasy, and I cannot wait to see where the story takes us in the sequel (I was delighted to realise this was book one!). I would recommend to anyone who enjoys the darker things in fantasy, and those looking for a well-executed blurring of the boundaries between Sci-Fi and Fantasy.
Ask me to list a few of my favourite tropes in genre fiction, and I’d say things like space travel, complex magic systems, and possession. While I never expected an author to Frankenstein these elements together in a single novel, this is exactly what Jordan Loyal Short has done with The Skald’s Black Verse, his first instalment in The Dreadbound Ode series.
My favourite aspect of this book is the familiar, Norse-inspired fantasy world colliding with sci-fi themes like interplanetary colonisation. It creates a fascinating mashup experience that I’ve only ever come across in Deathscent and Gideon the Ninth. It’s fun to see how Short uses his magic systems (yes, plural!) to account for the absence of modern technology, and I’m interested to see how this develops in the second book.
Between the history, mythology and ancestral magic, there is more than enough meaty lore in this book to sink your teeth into. The author slowly reveals his dark fantasy world while avoiding excessive exposition despite its complexity. Short provides further hints in the form of excerpts from historical writings at the beginning of each chapter. Between the character, race and location names, I had to concentrate when putting the pieces together in my head, but that’s likely a selling point for most hardcore fantasy readers.
The story is told from multiple perspectives that intertwine as the book progresses. Brohr, who is depicted as being somewhere between a victim and an anti-hero, has the central and most exciting storyline. Meanwhile, his unlikely ally Lyssa is perhaps the only character I found likeable. This might be why, occasionally, characters’ reactions to situations felt a little odd to me. Obviously, unlikeable (realistic) characters are a staple of grimdark novels, which The Skald’s Black Verse certainly is, though my personal preference is seeing a few more friendly faces.
This novel features a gripping first chapter, a visually stunning conclusion, and many great ideas in between. I might have enjoyed it even more if there were more details of the ‘millennia-spanning war between alien demigods’ since this sounds flipping awesome. Happily, this leaves plenty of action for the second book The Weeping Sigil which is expected next month, and I’m excited to see where the story leads.
Full review on jakeisreading.com. Thank you to the author and Storytellers on Tour for a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
I received a free copy of The Skald’s Black Verse in return for an honest review.
This is a dark book, and it’s at its darkest in the opening chapter. This first scene is violent, intense, and troubling but not in a way that feels like it is intended simply to shock. It provides necessary background on later events and helps explain the motivations of one of the main characters.
I found the setting of this novel really interesting and unusual. The village of Skolja, where most of the story takes place, feels medieval-ish in a way that is very common in high fantasy novels. In actuality, Skolja is located on a planet that has been conquered by an intergalactic empire with highly advanced magical technology. I felt that this was a nice bit of world-building, and was a good background to the conflict between the Norn and the Tyrianites which is ever-present throughout the book. The Norn are a proud people with their own history, language and traditions that are at war with the culture of the ruling Tyrianites, which makes for an interesting plot dynamic.
The character of Brohr felt very well fleshed-out and believable. The reader sympathises with his struggles, not just with his violent temper but also in his toxic relationship with his grandfather and his isolation within his community. I also enjoyed Henrik and Lyssa, though I felt that Henrik’s chapters were more compelling. His chapters set him up on a very different path than Brohr’s, and I feel invested in seeing what becomes of him.
Overall I really enjoyed this book and think a debut of this quality shows a lot of promise. I look forward to the next instalment in this series.
I found this book through the TBRindR-service over on reddit. Which means I got it for free, which means nothing as I say whatever the fuck I want;) The Skalds Black Verse is the first book of a series (as seems common for the stuff I review…) and with that come some neat things and some things I didn’t like as much. First the basics it’s a Grimdark Fantasy Novel so you can expect some darker themes and moments (and you will find them here). Here it’s mostly in some of the themes of the story and some gore in fight scenes. The scope of the story is centred around one town and the surrounding lands and some proper apocalyptic happenings and how these affect the town and it’s inhabitants (which sadly isn’t explored to its full potential but the book is a bit longer than 300 pages so not much space). At least for me the story centred around a darker version of the traditional “Chosen One” variant with the main character Brohr struggling against his destiny before being pulled into it fully but less in a I have to do this because it’s right way instead it feels more like a means to survival for him and his people. Brohr himself is a well written character who undergoes quite a change throughout the story but seemed to me the only one who didn’t actively take part in the events and more like he got pushed along which I normally would have to criticise but here it fits in the overarching theme of the story. His opposite is Henrik the son of the towns mayor who starts out as just that, the son of an more or less powerful man in the community and he is perhaps the character undergoing the most change and my favourite because he actively does things instead of reacting while he fits in the chosen one role with his power and later responsibilities he never seems to react and always searches for stuff he can do first for himself and later for the town. There are some more pov characters most of which serve either a narrative purpose as is the case with Brasca the closest thing the book has to an actual antagonist we get to so (there are hints and you meet others but spoiler) or serve to drive the personal arcs of other characters forward as I felt with Lyssa (who is still well written) Brohrs love interest and Anders his grandfather. The worldbuilding is a bit hit and miss it has some really great parts and somethings which confused me. One of the best things is the magic system or rather systems as we learn of two one is the way of the Skalds which is more what you would expect in an setting inspired by northern mythology with its focus on blood and tradition and the other is binding which came from ancient beings and is more of a technology than magic and there is not much known because we only get to see an amateur using it rather than a master of the craft. Only thing that bugged me is that I never got a feel for the world how it’s build and the way people travel or conquer in it as kinda space travel but not explored much until the final chapters which left me wondering in the beginning what some characters where talking about, again the book is on the short side but I feel this should have been addressed better or in more detail early on as it confused me for about a third of the book. So that leaves us with great characters, cool and interesting magic system(s) and a confusing world (for me) and some lost potential in the face of impending doom.
This is an incredibly dark fantasy novel, rippling with violent magic and political malevolence.
Short is an excellent builder of worlds; the detail on Skolja’s past was intricate and encompassing. Their religion, their servitude, their closeted family secrets. All were very carefully placed and explained by Short, ensuring a well developed and intriguing world for us to find ourselves in. It’s clear he’s taken pains with it; his love shines through every single meticulous detail.
The plot itself is confusing to begin with, and it isn’t until around halfway through the story that we begin to find our path. This isn’t a bad thing as such; the initial chaos and confusion lend themselves to the characters’ own panics, and allow us time to understand motive and setting. I did feel, however, once the real journey had begun, the tension and twists began to ebb, and the momentum fell away for me slightly.
Short’s writing is clean and raw, and he particularly impressed me during the action sequences. I also enjoyed the quotes from (fictional) historic or religious texts at the beginning of each chapter. It helped again to build this world and understand the characters’ ways of thinking.
Character background and development felt a bit lacking (I would’ve liked more of Lyssa’s past to be communicated), but as the first book in a series, I imagine there is much more to come. I truly hope Short will rise above the mundane and avoid any romantic scenes in the sequel.
I can predict great things for the rest of this series; if an author is willing to kill a dog (much to my disgust, I should add), he is willing to do anything.
The author created a fascinating and intricate world, weaving together elements of fantasy and sci-fi, and doing an excellent job sharing the details of that world without losing the narrative. The characters felt a under-developed and flat - there was no real connection to them, making deaths insignificant. The two magic types used (native blood magic and binding) weren't ever really explained, leaving a bit of a void. Overall, a solid read and the start to an interesting series. I received a complimentary copy of this work through Voracious Readers Only in exchange for my honest opinion.
What a dark and malevolent world Mr Short drags you in to. The detail and the completely believable characterisation results in an utterly compelling experience. This book is a masterful example of the dark fantasy genre but don’t read it last thing at night. You will end up leaving the light on lol. It is a beautiful and powerful piece of work. Well done Mr Short.
I really enjoyed this book. I don't always read fantasy novels, but thoroughly enjoyed this one. The characters were well developed and I can't wait to see what happens in the next adventure. Brohr is a fascinating character who struggles with good and bad, but will prevail...I hope.
Looking for a dark and gritty science fantasy? Then look no further. With a Nordic vibe, this has great characters, an interesting story and most importantly, an excellent sequel, but more on that later. The narration by Aaron Smith really adds to the story.
Jordan Loyal Short begins his sci - fi/ fantasy Trilogy, Dreadbound Ode with this dark tale of rebellion and Revolution in The Scald's Black Verse.
Brohr is the grandson of Anders Nilstrom, a deeply scarred veteran of The Tyrianite invasion of his homeworld Heimar. Brohr is a mix of Norn and Tyrianite, born of a brutal assault by Tyrianite troops, which leaves his mother pregnant with twins However, his twin is killed at birth and bound to him by a dark ritual performed by his grandfather shortly after Brohr's birth.
Skip forward quite a few years and Brohr is planning to run away with his girlfriend. However, things don't go according to plan when his supposed best friend tattle tales on his plans and they are stopped. As a result, Brohr loses his temper, and subsequently beats said best friend half to death.
As a result, he is shunned even more than he was, and things go from bad to worse when he is out drinking and gambling. The result of the night, which is one that is echoed in towns all over the universe it seems, is violence. However, whilst the man that Brohr became involved with is unconscious, he is killed be a shadowy apparition. The event is witnessed by two others Lyssa and Hendrick.
This incident is the catalyst for an event that will change all their lives forever.
I have got to say that this book surprised me, and I did not expect it to go the way that it did. Initially, the world building points to a Norse inspired fantasy. A pitch black Norse inspired fantasy, I may add! However, things soon took a different turn with the introduction of space faring invaders that are oppressing the people of Heimar and the whole book goes in a direction that I did not foresee.
The story is made up of four diffiering POV’s; Brohr, Lyssa, Hendrick and Brasca, each of them very different. Brohr is possessed by the spirit of his dead brother and resembles a berserker (or The Hulk, or even Slaine the Horned God when he goes into his warp spasm). Then there is Lyssa, an independent young woman who is totally bored of working in her father’s tavern. Next up is Hendrick, a spoilt prig of a boy whose father is the Mayor, and also one who has done very well from allying himself with the oppressing forces. And finally, there is Brasca, the Tyrianite Prefect sent to Heimar as some kind of political punishment.
The story is mainly confined to one place, the village of Skolijas (although there is some mention of other towns in the world). Whilst in some ways it may seem that it is limited in its world building, it does add to the intensity of the book. And I have to say, I did find this book quite intense.
Like I mentioned earlier, this is a dark fantasy, pitch black even, but this works well. It highlights the oppression that the inhabitants of the village are experiencing, and it also heightens that sense of foreboding that is ever present throughout the book.
Throughout the story, there seem to be a plethora of differing influences in there, such as; epic fantasy, grimdark, ecological disaster, sci fi and even some folk horror. Whilst it may make you wonder how these elements can be melded together, Jordan Loyal Short makes them work extremely well and provide a fantasy tale that is quite individual.
The magic system is quite intriguing, with the Scalds using blood magic, which is used for all sorts of things like hiding evidence and intent. However, other forms of magic are used in the book, and we learn about bindings.
The characters are all well realised, with Lyssa being the standout for me. At times I found Brohr to be a little less than the sum of his parts and could be quite frustrated with him, whilst Hendrick was a typical lordling’s son. The other character Brasca was well realised and complex. It was interesting to see his story unfold to show how he had fallen from a star of the Tyrianite Empire to being demoted to his current position.
I liked that Jordan Loyal Short used some typical other fantasy elements like the chosen one trope, warring gods or the found family trope, and twisted them to fit the story.
So, if you like your dark fantasy flavoured with a bit of grimness and spiced up with a touch of Sci Fi and horror then give The Scold’s Black Verse a try
Reviewed in the United States on August 22, 2022 The world is ending, and if the Norn don’t rise up… they’re dead. The unwanted son of a conquering soldier, Brohr will soon discover that he is cursed, haunted, a berserker. When a strange murder sparks unrest in his tiny village, Brohr becomes the prime suspect. Hunted by invaders from another world, only the forbidden blood magic of the Skalds can save him. To survive, Brohr must unravel dire omens, uncover family secrets, and lead a desperate revolt against an empire that spans the heavens. But dark forces gather in the shadows, intent upon a rebellion of their own.
What I thought:
So I had to jump at the chance to read a Norse-inspired grimdark sci-fi/fantasy, and here I am. We follow the main lead Brohr as he gets ready to battle an ancient, intergalactic horror. A midwife reveals some secrets to him, and he learns the truth about his history and a war going way back. The detail and worldbuilding are incredible. Something that really stuck out to me is how much we see of the characters' regular, daily lives. Something as simple as getting a drink or chatting
When I heard someone pitch this as vikings and spaceships, I just knew I had to check it out. It's blend of epic fantasy and grimdark sci-fi is well balanced and never jarring. The book kicks off with a gritty scene, which sets the tone for the rest of the story. The main pov characters are different enough to make them stand apart. They each come with their own baggage and prejudices, but are united by witnessing an inexplicable murder... from here things get worse, with blood magic, executions and end of the world explosive set pieces to rival any blockbuster film. Basically, if you're after a grim, well-written, multiple pov story with plenty of action and intrigue, this has it all. Will be coming back for more. Great!!!
Pairing Sci Fi and High Fantasy and having a balanced feel is tough to do and this book hit the sweet spot for me. The tale was fresh and you could view themes of real world societal problems in a setting and I always enjoy reflecting reality in that manner.
It kept me captivated all the way through and the uniqueness of the world is something I'm excited to explore more. Hopefully there are plenty of more books coming. I'm attached to these characters and I definitely want more!
Vikings, science-fiction, grimdark, and end of the world shenanigans. What's not to like?
This is a brutal book. It starts as it means to go on, and for those who don't enjoy certain subject matters (no spoilers here) you get those from the off so you can quickly decide if this is the type of book for you.
There's ingenuity and well-worked twists, and the MC Brohr is well-delved. In fact, that would be my only criticism - the rest of the characters pale in comparison. The narrative more than makes up for this, in my opinion - as does the scope and scale of the world-building.
Dark and bloody, with fascinating characters you'll break your heart on. An otherworldly mix of Norse themes and science fantasy, tied in with the power of song. Bloody and entrancing magic systems, and an author that plunders its cast, raising the suspense and tension with every page.
Counting the days for November 12 so I can revisit this series!
Listen normally when a book starts off with some heavy infanticide that might be the mark of a book that is going to go way off the rails. And this does, in all the right ways. If that doesn't peak your interest, one of the characters makes a vape using the spirit of some animal. That's pretty cool.