Book Review: Season of Marvels: Viking Tales by Deb Houdek Rule
This is a collection of four speculative fiction short stories on the general theme of “Vikings” from the small label press Variations On a Theme.
“Viking -Trojan War” is an after-action report about 8th Century Viking raiders suddenly materializing on the USC campus due to the Temporal Physics department getting a bit careless. The narrative voice is apparently one of the college administrators, and sudden bits of informality suggest that this is the draft version of his or her report rather than the final one. Lightly humorous.
“The Last Ship” is set in Greenland during the 15th Century, after the supply ships from Norway stopped coming. A shepherd sings an old song from the pagan times, and one last ship arrives. Did she call it, or was the ship doomed to begin with, and the survivor less monster than alien?
“Season of Marvels” is closer to the fantasy side. Kieran, Irish slave of Einar the Earless, wants his freedom. And in this Icelandic winter where marvels and dark magic are on the rise, he might be able to get it.
“Borealis”, on the other hand, is more inclined to science fiction. An orphan boy who forms a bond with a cat (possibly psychic in nature) is drafted by a secret organization. That organization drops him without a briefing on a planet with a Norse-like culture that’s been stagnating for centuries. Culture shock ensues.
This last story has the most potential to be turned into a full novel, or even a series, as Brock deals with Chimaera and its mysterious goals.
They’re all decent stories, with four very different moods. The paperback is perhaps a bit overpriced for the size, but I see the Kindle version is inexpensive, or free if you already have Kindle Unlimited.
Consider this one if you like Viking-themed stories, or as a gift for someone who does.