Skaldenland by Jim Mortimore

Obverse Books is to publish noted science fiction and fantasy writer Jim Mortimore’s new novel, Skaldenland.

‘In the grand traditions of Brian Aldiss, Alan Garner and Ray Bradbury, Skaldenland is the story of Chad and Brun, who find the Symphonion, an ancient music box which plays even without song disks. The Song of the Symphonion turns summer into winter, calls giants from the stars, wakes gods and monsters from the Earth. Now brother and sister find themselves living out a terrifying war between Freya, leader of the Valkyries and Hel, Goddess of the Underworld for the soul of Baldur, a warrior-god condemned to hell by the woman he loved.’

Jim Mortimore’s has written for Doctor Who, Cracker, Babylon 5, Farscape, The Tomorrow People and Bernice Summerfield. Skaldenland is his first original novel and will be available in hardback (standard and deluxe), paperback and electronic editions.

Obverse Books is to publish noted science fiction and fantasy writer Jim Mortimore’s new novel, Skaldenland.

‘In the grand traditions of Brian Aldiss, Alan Garner and Ray Bradbury, Skaldenland is the story of Chad and Brun, who find the Symphonion, an ancient music box which plays even without song disks. The Song of the Symphonion turns summer into winter, calls giants from the stars, wakes gods and monsters from the Earth. Now brother and sister find themselves living out a terrifying war between Freya, leader of the Valkyries and Hel, Goddess of the Underworld for the soul of Baldur, a warrior-god condemned to hell by the woman he loved.’

Jim Mortimore’s has written for Doctor Who, Cracker, Babylon 5, Farscape, The Tomorrow People and Bernice Summerfield. Skaldenland is his first original novel and will be available in hardback (standard and deluxe), paperback and electronic editions.

1 Comment on Skaldenland by Jim Mortimore

  1. some excellent reviews of this book are available on Amazon, and now… here:

    Skaldenland is positively breathtaking. Its evocation of scale is effortless. The tale [exists] somewhere between Neil Gaiman and Ursula LeGuin. This is the full W. B. Yeats in terms of imagery and emotional power. Exhaustingly good.
    Lawrence Burton

    A fabulous book that flings you from nostalgic 50s-feeling summer seaside holidays to the savagery of ancient conflicts. Mortimore has the ability to awaken all the senses with his wonderfully evocative penmanship. A real page-turner, gripping, exciting and challenging.
    Andrea Morrison

    Skaldenland intrigued me so much that I just could not put it down. The setting was familiar and safe, yet could send shivers up your spine with the turn of a page. The decisions Chad and Brun are forced into twist and turn right up until the very last page. As soon as I had finished I had to delve back into it again!
    Angela Thorogood

    Jim Mortimore has an uncanny way of combining rich prose with polished dialogue which effortlessly transports you into his fictional world. Before you know it, you’re hooked. The story opens with two children chasing an ice cream van on a hot summer’s day you can almost feel the sun on your cheeks as you run with them. This a hard book to put down once you’ve started. Skaldenland is a skilfully written and highly imaginative work of fiction. This book should be on everyone’s bookshelf.
    Mark Naisbitt

    Skaldenland is one of those rare works of art where the author has invested his creation with an energy that lets it unfold in the mind of the reader almost as if it were growing there from its own DNA. Given the Norse mythology which is the basis of the book, you might expect the obvious leitmotifs to give the feel of a Wagnerian opera, but the effect is more human in scale; think Arnold Bax rather than Wagner: though entire universes merge and die in the course of the action, it all takes place inside the distance a boy can walk. Expect to be transported to another world, not in a spaceship, but as you would be by a symphony.
    Paul Hinder

    The novel has a surprising and endearing retro feel. It is reminiscent of British children’s fiction from an earlier era, such as “The Box of Delights” or, particularly, Alan Garner’s “The Owl Service”, which has a similar take on Celtic, rather than Nordic, myth. Partly this feel is due to Mortimore’s dramatic use of language, which is places reads more like poetry, and partly due to the strange maturity of Chad and Brun. The whole story seems slightly askew in time, modern yet old-fashioned. It’s a mix that could have been hard to pull off, but it works well here. The language may be a little too rich for younger readers, and some scenes, notably one featuring walking scarecrows, are unsettling. The brother/sister/lover relationship between Chad/Baldur and Brun/Freya, occasionally skims a little too close to incestuous, with little of the usual quarrelling and sniping that characterises sibling relationships. But the story is sweeping, and epic in tone, scope and ambition. Let’s hope it doesn’t take another eight years for Mortimore to produce a follow-up.
    Heirath

    “Physics with extra romance.” That’s a phrase used by a character in Skaldenland to describe music, but it’s a pretty good summation of the whole story. James Mortimore, the author previously known as Jim Mortimore and known best for his Doctor Who novels, has created an original work that draws heavily on Norse mythology, but also touches on esoteric physics and astrophysics, along with the power of words and music, to create an epic picture of the end of the world. I’m a big fan of ancient mythology, and the Norse pantheon is one of the richest. There’s a real feel of mythic importance as the various characters begin to take on aspects of figures from the myths. The most enjoyable characters are Ellyn, a disturbed young woman who becomes Chad’s love interest, and Mrs C, the eccentric old woman across the road from his holiday home. Both are sources of arcane and mystical knowledge that spans time and space. As the world freezes over and the past breaks through to the present, Chad experiences visions of an ancient war spanning the universe. He is plagued by terrifying forces; grey-faced men, moving scarecrows, shadowy wolves – proper fairy tale horrors. The ice-clad world is full of chills. Reading it, we’re never quite sure what experiences are real and which are dreams, until it’s too late for Chad, and all have taken their places for Ragnarok. While it took a little time to truly get into the story, I ultimately found Skaldenland a satisfyingly mythic experience.
    Daniel Tessier

    Myths, gods, siblings, love, lazy summer days, music, ice, Box of Delights-style adventure, scarecrows… it’s a certain type of book which manages to fit in all this and more, and still be readable, logical and, more over, enjoyable. The start of Skaldenland is fast and breezy, with Mortimore quickly establishing our hero’s family set-up and soon throwing us many of the concepts which he goes on to build up, tweak, twist and experiment with in the following three hundred-odd pages. What follows however varies slightly with regards to its pacing, alternating between quick and slow, giving us time to breathe in and digest the notions and concepts which Mortimore paints before sprinting to the next stand-off. Sometimes this works really well, our slight confusion and feeling of mild disorientation mirroring Chad’s, and sometimes it fails, feeling like it’s grinding the pace to a halt and teasing us with information in a frustrating manner. Mortimore knows exactly what he’s doing with Chad, with his dialogue, with his idiosyncratic patter. It made me feel distant from Chad, to the point where it was at times hard to fully engage with his emotions and his journey but there are good reasons for his differences. This is a novel which is rich with its concepts. It takes music and turns it into an enemy, a weapon, a healer, a beautiful thing which outlives us all and follows its own rules; it takes mythology and entwines it with the non-fictional in a way that feels perfectly in keeping with the world he has surrounded us with; and he takes characters which develop with the same depth and thought as his wider ideas. They are all integral to his world, ingredients which are balanced and make up something at times more remarkable as a whole than as a bunch of component parts. In short, Skaldenland shows an author who is completely certain in his vision and committed to getting that across in no uncertain terms, something which he does with the apparent ease of someone at the top of his game, but which anyone who tries to match it will find to be extraordinarily difficult to get close to. On top of that, we get an interesting story which deserves and requires the page count it has, and which at turns ensnares the reader with ideas and enthrals the reader with action. I certainly hope that Skaldenland is neither the last we get from Mortimore which deals with a world this vast and deep, nor the final step into full-length fiction which Obverse Books takes. Both should be applauded for this novel, flawed or no. It’s a loud, bold and proud stamp which bodes well for the future.
    Nick Mellish

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