“There will be a tall pile of people who I’m sure will absolutely dig this book–the sheer level of research is just really cool and I know plenty of alt-history readers who could enjoy the book…”
A SONG OF STEEL
A SONG OF STEEL
by J.C. Duncan
What is it about?
Alternate history – 1116 AD. Three hundred years of cruel Viking raids have finally united Christian Europe against the pagan Northlands. A great crusade has been called to pacify the wild Norse kingdoms. The banner of the cross has been raised against the north, and all the power and fury of the west rides under it.
Ordulf, a talented young German swordsmith, is ripped from his comfortable life and cast into the bloody chaos of the crusade. As fate deals him a cruel blow in the lands of his enemies, he will have to forge a new path through the chaos, or be consumed by it.
In the Northlands, three rival kingdoms must unite to survive the onslaught. But can any man, king or commoner, unite the bickering brotherhood of the Norse? Or is the time of the Vikings finally drawing to a violent end. Heroes will fail, kings will fall, and ordinary people will fight for the right to a future.
A Song of Steel by J.C.Duncan is a book I picked up with great hopes, read the introduction from the author, got even more excited, and then ended up as a DNF. I don’t DNF many books, even ones I’m not that in to I finish because I feel bad if I don’t. With this book I just couldn’t justify continuing–it didn’t land for me at all (and plenty of good reviews on Goodreads disagree with me wholeheartedly, so take my opinion with a large pinch of salt, herein).
A Song of Steel started with a nice introduction which sets the scene of history and provides the author’s interests and what drove him to write the book. I don’t think it was really needed–it would have worked well as a blog post or maybe a post script–but I liked it. It showed the author’s passion for the period and the research that went in to this and hinted at all the cool details and scenes that would be written into this story.
Then we’re presented with a poem that I’m not even sure the purpose of (maybe I would have discovered its purpose down the track if I’d continued). Then we finally get to the actual story. And we have a mid-scene POV hop on the first page. And this is where I started to question how much I wanted to read this book.
You can really feel the author’s passion for the era in A Song of Steel, and the history comes off the page in every word. I can really appreciate some of this book from that aspect. I didn’t really appreciate it from the perspective of being able to immerse myself in character or story; it just felt like one long history lecture. Each time I tried to give it a few more pages, I just couldn’t get into it. I’m not going to pretend I came even close to finishing this book. I didn’t.
Now, all this is going to read as incredibly cruel from a review perspective, and the author has my apologies for this, but it just was the opposite style of storytelling to what I enjoy. There will be a tall pile of people who I’m sure will absolutely dig this book–the sheer level of research is just really cool and I know plenty of alt-history readers who could enjoy the book for what it is.
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Adrian Collins runs Grimdark Magazine and loves anything to do with telling darker stories. Doesn’t matter the format, or when it was published or produced–just give him a grim story told in a dark world by a morally grey protagonist and this bloke’s in his happy place. Add in a barrel aged stout to sip on after a cheeky body surf under the Australian sun, and that’s his heaven.