Erik & the Gods – Journey to Valhalla by Lars-Henrik Olsen. Book review

Erik & the Gods – Journey to Valhalla by Lars-Henrik Olsen, Aurora Metro Books, 400 PP, £9.99

Reviewed by Steve Dean

The first thing you need to know about this book is it was originally written in 1986. The world has changed greatly since then. Unfortunately, the author didn’t consider it necessary to update the book for a modern audience, and it really shows.

Erik is a thirteen-year-old boy, minding his own business alone in his bedroom during a storm. As it turns out, the storm is just cover for the arrival of the Norse god Thor, who’s looking for someone to help the gods win a war against the giants. For some reason, Thor chooses the young Erik to help him, quickly loading him on to his charity and whisking him off to Asgard. Erik, who was obviously ill when they did the ‘stranger danger’ training, simply goes off with Thor without a second thought. When they arrive Erik is introduced to the many inhabitants of Asgard, including Trud, Thor’s daughter.

Erik and Trud, and the horse Hofvapnir, set off to the land of the giants on their secret mission that everyone is talking about. What follows is a sequence of meetings where the heroes get in trouble, get wet, but find shelter just in time, usually with a hot meal thrown in. At this point, and far too many times to be appropriate, the author gets the two children naked, although there’s no funny business. In addition, the pacing is flat, the characters unconvincing, and Trud, despite being Thor’s daughter, is really just set dressing.

Interweaved with the story is a series of Norse myths, one in almost every chapter of the book. This usually happens when the children meet someone, who sits them by the fire and says “Have you heard the story about..?” Which becomes annoying very quickly.

This book claims to be aimed at a YA audience, but to me it’s aimed at parents who might buy it for their children because it’s educational. I doubt very much children would choose this for themselves, and if they did they’d soon give up.

In the end, this book is just an anachronism which should either have been extensively rewritten or left in the past. If you’re interested in Norse mythology, there are far better books out there. And the same goes for anyone looking for decent fiction.