A review of
The Skald’s Black Verse
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!
Thanks for reading