Haraldur the Northman once joined Jason on his fabled quest for the Golden Fleece, but now he wants nothing more to do with gods and adventure. Returning to his homeland for the first time in many years, he hopes only to settle down on a farm of his own—until he comes across an impenetrable wall of Eldritch fire and a lovesick youth determined to breach the wall at any cost.Declared as 'Book One of the Norse Gods,' the novel is also the fifth book in Saberhagen's 'Gods(Masks)' series. The first four novels deal with Greek myth and legend.
Behind the towering flames, he is told, lies a beautiful Valkyrie trapped in an enchanted sleep, as well as, perhaps, a golden treasure beyond mortal reckoning. It is the gold that tempts Hal to agree, against his better judgment, to assist the youth in his quest.
If you've come for a hard-hitting Viking tale, this isn't it. Saberhagen's story concerns the gods, ghosts, gnomes, and other trappings of the Norse myths. The gods aren't truly gods--they are people who have acquired magical masks which transform them into gods. The Masks are a good hook and the characters and their interactions are enjoyable. (I still wonder if the series is in any way connected to Saberhagen's SWORDS world. It has a similar setup.)
It's a solid time-passer as a fantasy story. If you seek blood & thunder and clashing Viking hordes, you need to look elsewhere.
The Masks concept is interesting. Not enough for me to rush out and immediately find the other books in the series. But enough that I might return to the series sometime in future.
If I spot them cheap enough during my bookstore travels I would probably grab them.
3 out of 5 stars.