Ansgar the Skald just needs to make a simple delivery. One very fine sword, made by his foster father, needs to go east. Over the mountains, into the woods, and almost to the land of the Swedes. Once he does that, he can go home and warm his feet. All he needs to do is choose the right path through the forest.
This is one foreboding forest, though, and a part of the world Ansgar has never traveled through. In that bleak part of the north, outlaws want to take his sword, wargs want to eat his face, and witches want him for things he would rather not think about.
As a skald, Ansgar knows the kind of lore that can keep a man alive in the far north. Tales of heroes and trolls, of gods and dwarves. He's got the best stories. He's got his wits. And he's got a cynical raven to give him advice. Maybe.
The right direction has a warm fire and a horn full of mead waiting. The wrong direction has wolves the size of ponies. Or worse.
The Skald is a Norse inspired fantasy novella, which works as a prequel to the Spear of the Gods series, written by Gregory Amato. Ansgar the Skald has to deliver a sword made by his father, a simple travel if he chooses the correct path to follow into the forest; and for that, he has a sarcastic raven that might or not give him advice, depending if the raven finds his stories worthy enough of giving information.
Amato uses this premise as the excuse to introduce us to Ansgar the Skald, a really gifted storyteller; a characteristic that has proven to be really useful during his different travels, and that might save his life. We have a few examples during the novella, showing a voice that is really adequate for the skald job.
Outside of that, we are spectators of his different encounters during the travel, showing how in this world Norse mythology and fantasy are mixed; Amato's writing is structured and clear, excellent to follow.
While it's not the fastest paced novella in the world, it delivers what I expect from this kind of format, introducing us to a character that will be part of a greater series while creating an engaging plot that makes us feel connected to the main character.
The Skald is a great novella, perfect for those that like Norse mythology, but prefer a more Historical researched focus; there's great potential in the series.
Disclaimer: This novella has been read as part of the SFINCS. This review/rating only represents my personal opinion and it might differ with what the team decides.
Gregory Amato is a Judo-teaching, beer-brewing, heavy metal-listening kind of guy who thinks the civilized world could use a dose of adventure.
He wrote all kinds of stuff for years. True and Important Stuff! He wrote for newspapers and magazines when they were still printed on paper. He wrote intelligence for the FBI for over a decade, chasing white supremacists, international hackers, and corporate fraudsters.All that while, he was also making up stories about vikings and wizards.Norse fantasy! Gods and monsters! Axes and runes! Magic swords and talking ravens!
In 2021 he left his super secret job at the FBI, set all his stuffy suits and ties on fire,* and decided to dedicate as much time as possible to writing a bunch of lies. Lies with the air of truth, of course, because those are the best stories. The stories that affect us the most, and maybe even inspire us to be more tomorrow than we were yesterday.
Adventures might make you late to dinner, but you won’t be quite the same person finishing them as the person who started them. That’s something worth being late to dinner over.