ragnarok by brian jamesWhile not being immersed in Norse mythology since middle school, I’ve found myself surrounded by it lately between a number of different books and movies. In a matter of a few months, I’ve read or seen several different versions of Thor, Loki, Odin and the Norse fringe characters.

The latest was in Ragnarok: Book 1: The Hammer by Brian James where the gods have been thrown out of Asgard and have made lives for themselves on Earth. There is a fight to control Thor’s hammer with nearly a dozen characters appearing throughout the first book.

The story is enticing with a great deal of knowledge thrown in about Norse mythology. If nothing else, James knows what he is talking about when it comes to the topic. He has found an interesting way to start the story of Ragnarok, which in the mythology is a great battle that results in the death of many major figures including Odin, Thor and Loki, according to lore.

In James’ book, Odin is a conniving ruler who seems to hate his sons, Loki is a shrewd home-shopping network owner and Thor is a bumbling oaf who plays football ruthlessly. As the signs that point to Ragnarok appear, the three of them end up in the desert to get Thor’s hammer. Only none of it goes exactly as anyone had planned with double agents and people turning their back on their brethren.

James’ book needed heavier editing. There were some typos, but it was also over-written. Tighter sentences and condensing some of the unnecessary scenes would have pushed the action better. The pace of the beginning of the book is much slower, but when it picks up, it gets interesting.

In addition, there were way too many pop culture references used throughout the book citing the Kardashians, Chris Christie and a number of other references that will make this book dated. But the biggest problem was the references just seemed like overkill and done in a way that seemed as though the author didn’t know what else to say.

The characters are written in a way that even if you are not aware of Norse mythology, you can get a sense of who they are. There are layers to them and enough background stories to understand the gods and what drives them.