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THE VALKYRIE OF VANAHEIM
by PHIL PARKER
WHAT IT IS ABOUT?
Frida Ransom has a secret, she is a human/Fae hybrid. A lonely one too. Frida and her mother lived a solitary existence to keep that secret safe. Her mother’s unexpected death, and a decade-long war with the fae, turned the girl even more emotionally fragile.
Now, with the war over, humanity and the Fae must cooperate to overcome new challenges. Except factions on both sides of the inter-dimensional portals oppose this collaboration. A new dimension has been found, one humanity could colonise.
A mission to reconnoitre this new world takes shape and Frida finds herself included on the team. Her problems deepen when factions of humanity and fae try to sabotage the mission. A sequence of events shines a spotlight on Frida and her family heritage. For this eighteen-year-old young woman, its attention threatens her sanity and places her in danger.
Beyond the spotlight, waiting in the darkness of their destination, something malevolent and cunning awaits. It needs Frida to fulfil its plans. Which, if successful, threatens the existence of humanity and the Fae.
For fans of a wonderful blend of non-stop action, meshed with skillful character development, I strongly recommend checking out the thrilling portal fantasy, ‘The Valkyrie of Vanaheim” by Phil Parker!
The book is set in a not-so-distant dystopian future, filled with prejudice, mistrust, and misunderstanding between Fae and human-kind. Humans live in one dimension, while Fae live in another, however the two species can enter one another’s space, and other dimensions as well.
The protagonist, a teenager named Frida, is part-human, part-Fae. This mixed heritage would make both sides – human and Fae – suspicious of Frida, therefore her true lineage is hidden. Frida’s deceased mother elected to pass her daughter off as human only, in order to protect Frida from scorn, ridicule, or worse.
The humans and the Fae have been at war for years, however a fragile peace has been forged. Still, there are forces on both sides that disapprove of the detente, and actively conspire to ruin the treaty. Meanwhile, other dimensions that are suitable for habitation, unexplored by humans or fae, have been discovered. A collaborative mission is formed to investigate the new universe, but danger and disaster await those who attempt the journey.
Frida has grown up somewhat isolated, a bit socially awkward, and feeling out of place in the world. She longs for deeper friendships, companionship and a romantic relationship. In Frida’s mind, she is not considered as feminine and as attractive to men as other women. Perceiving herself as unattractive, along with the secret bloodline factor, Frida feels despondent that she will not be able to forge deeper connections. But Frida does not wallow in self-pity. She is very brave, intelligent, capable, and a very morally upright and strong person of values.
Frida finds herself part of the military mission to survey the new dimension. The dimensions of the world in Parker’s story are inspired by Norse Legend, and the new dimension is called Vanaheim, home of the Vanir Gods in Norse mythology. The mission will need Frida’s burgeoning powers, to combat the evil that lurks in Vanaheim, and that evil intends to use Frida for its own pernicious purposes.
As I noted at the onset of this review, there is action aplenty in this book, with some heart-stopping battles, blending modern weaponry, advanced technology, and ancient magic. Lovers of a fast-paced plot will not be disappointed in this book. Parker keeps the tension on, and the reader praying their favourite players can survive the constant, epic conflict!
Again, I admire Parker’s ability to incorporate depth of character – particularly with his main character, Frida – side by side with the blurring fight scenes. The reader will acutely feel Frida’s angst, moral quandaries, hope, disappointments, rage, sorrow, and the gamut of her emotions. She is very well-drawn and believable.
The secondary characters are quite interesting as well, and I loved the twists Parker threw in with their plot arcs that the reader likely won’t see coming! I also enjoyed the diverse creatures in the book, and I don’t want to spoil it by giving away most of them, however, I’ll just say something akin to a fire-breather may make more than one unforgettable appearance!
I LOVED the themes touched on in the book. Present thought-provoking ideas in a novel and you will definitely receive my praise and admiration. The misgivings among different human and Fae factions is very well done by Parker, and portrayed with dexterously and with appropriate realism.
There are plenty of shades of grey / ambiguity among some of the characters and their motivations (outside of the downright evil ones) and there is a lot of grappling with questions about what is right and wrong, and if others who are different can be trusted and accepted. There is also the debate over colonialism, and what gives another group the right to simply take over another territory, for their own purposes, which is a theme that will always intrigue me.
A very good book, “The Valkyrie of Vanaheim” was a fun ride, with strong characterization and compelling themes! I will sure be looping back to read any sequels, and also checking out Parker’s “Knight’s Protocol” trilogy, as “The Valkyrie of Vanaheim” has converted me into a Phil Parker fan!
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I’m an experienced writer, in that I’ve been writing stories all my life, yet never thought to publish them. I’ve written informally – short stories – to entertain friends and family, for community newspapers, volunteer organization magazines, and of course formal papers for University. Now, later in life, I’ve published what I believe is a great fantasy novel, and definitely worth reading, called A Drowned Kingdom. My target audience is those who enjoy “high fantasy”. A Drowned Kingdom is not “dark fantasy”. It’s written in a more idealized and grandiose style that I hope isn’t too preachy, and not too grim. Still, I’m hoping my book has appeal to those who don’t typically read this type of work – those who don’t read fantasy of any kind – because of the “every-person” themes permeating the novel: dysfunctional familial relationships, extramarital temptation, racism, misogyny, catastrophic loss, religion, crisis of faith, elitism, self-confidence, PTSD, and more.
Many of these themes I have either personal experience with, or have friends or family who have dealt with such issues. I’ve had a long professional law enforcement career, undergone traumatic events, yet been buoyed by family, faith, and positivity. I’m a racialized middle-aged man. I’ve seen a lot of life. Ultimately I want the planned series, of which A Drowned Kingdom will be the introduction, to be one of hope, and overcoming obstacles to succeed, which I believe is my story as well. My protagonist, Othrun, will undergo a journey where he’ll evolve, change, and shape a continent. He’s not always likeable. He’s a snob, bigot, is vain, yet struggles with confidence. He’s patriarchal. Overall, he’s flawed. But even ordinary flawed people can change. We’re all redeemable.
Ordinary people can make a difference, not just fictional Princes. I want that message to shine through my work.
WHERE TO FIND HIM
Twitter – @plstuartwrites
Facebook – @plstuartwrites