Children of Ragnarok – Cinda Williams Chima – ARC Review

Title: Children of Ragnarok
Series: Runestone Saga #1
: Cinda Williams Chima
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Mythology
: November 8th, 2022 (Balzer & Bray)

Synopsis: Ever since Ragnarok – the great war between the gods and the forces of chaos – the human realm of the Midlands has become a dangerous place, bereft of magic, where most lead lives of desperation.

Sixteen-year-old Eiric Halvorsen is among the luckier ones. Between fishing, going vikingr, and working his modir’s farm, the family has remained prosperous. But Eiric stands to lose everything when he’s convicted by a rigged jury of murdering his modir and stepfadir. Also at risk is his half-systir, Liv, whose interest in seidr, or magic, has made her a figure of suspicion. Then a powerful jarl steps in: he will pay the blood price if Eiric will lead a mission to the fabled Temple at the Grove—the rich stronghold of the wyrdspinners, the last practitioners of sorcery.

Spellsinger, musician, and runecaster Reggin Eiklund has spent her life traveling from town to town, performing at alehouses all for the benefit of her master, Asger, the fire demon she is desperate to escape. Then after one performance that amazes even Reggin herself, two wyrdspinners in the audience make her an irresistible offer: return with them to the temple to be trained in seidr, forever free of Asger.

Eiric, Liv, and Reggin’s journeys converge in New Jotunheim, the site of the Temple at the Grove, a paradise fueled by magic. They soon realize that a great evil lurks beneath the dazzling surface, and that old betrayals and long-held grudges may fuel another cataclysmic war. It will require every gift and weapon at their command to prevent it.

Thank you to the publisher, HCC Frenzy, and NetGalley for providing me with an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

In the Archipelago, life has been difficult ever since Ragnarok, and most people struggle to feed themselves, but Eiric Halvorsen works hard on his mother’s farm which continues to yield a good harvest, and he, along with his mother and sister, do well. But when Eiric is about to be convicted by a biased jury of his mother and stepfather’s murders, a powerful jarl intervenes and offers to pay the blood price in return for a year of service. He wants Eiric to lead a voyage to the mythical Temple of the Grove, where the last magic wielders are said to reside, and seeing no other option to save his family’s farm, Eiric agrees. Liv, his sister, insists on accompanying him on the dangerous journey as she has an interest in and a gift for magic herself. Meanwhile, spellsinger Reggin Eiklund, who is a thrall to a fire demon, has spent her life travelling from town to town, performing her music, until one day, she discovers a new ability which leads two wyrdspinners from the Grove to make her an offer to return to the Temple with them to be trained in magic, and freedom from the demon along with it. Eiric, Liv and Reggin journey towards the same destination, but not all is as it seems and New Jotunheim, which looks like a paradise at first glance, hides dark secrets that will have very different, but equally monumental repercussions for each of them.

Mythology retellings are my absolute favorite, so naturally, I’ve been looking forward to this book for over a year now.I’m not nearly as familiar with Norse mythology as I am with Greek and Roman, but I still found it quite easy to follow along with this. I’ve only tried reading one of this author’s books before, Flamecaster, which for some reason, I just couldn’t get into and had to DNF within a handful of chapters. Fortunately, that wasn’t the case with this book, and it was interesting enough right from the beginning to hold my attention until the real action started. I liked this take on Norse mythology and the world building was intricate. The descriptions of the places, particularly New Jotunheim, were vivid and made it easy to imagine and immerse myself in the world.

This story was narrated in dual POVs, that of Eiric and Reggin, and it was balanced, giving unique perspectives of the plot as events begin to unfold in New Jotunheim. Both characters’ arcs were well written, and each of them had several mysteries in their past which is clearly going to lead to their paths crossing again as there is still much left to be revealed at the end of this book. I did feel that it might have been a nice addition if Liv had a POV as well, since, her past and motives are arguably the most mysterious of the three, seeing as she actually seems to know and remember quite a bit of it unlike the other two.

I was rather disappointed that no map was included since it would have proved useful for a story like this, which involves the characters travelling a lot (not to mention the complicated names of places which I still can’t get straight). The various Norse words threw me off a bit – it wasn’t hard to pick up, but without a glossary, it was time consuming every time a word came up that I needed to stop and think about. My biggest issue with this book however, was the pacing. If the plot hadn’t been as interesting as it was, I would have probably ended up DNF’ing this book too with how much it dragged. By around the 35% mark, the story still hadn’t moved beyond what was in the synopsis, and even once things got moving, the pacing continued to be choppy.

The point at which the author chose to end this book struck me as kind of an odd stopping point since while it was a bit of a cliffhanger, so many of the key plot points still felt extremely vague. Overall, this was a strong start to a new fantasy series and I’m looking forward to picking up the sequel when it’s out. I would definitely recommend Children of Ragnarok to fans of the genre!

Children of Ragnarok releases on November 8th, 2022.

Do you plan to read this book? Let me know in the comments below!
All quotes in this review were taken from an advance reader’s edition and may differ from the final version of the book.

Other reviews in this series:


12 thoughts on “Children of Ragnarok – Cinda Williams Chima – ARC Review

  1. Stephanie November 2, 2022 / 10:01 am

    I love Norse mythology. Aside from the literature, we’re also pumped for God of War: Ragnarok coming out soon. I too get disappointed when there’s no map because I’m a huge fan of world-building. This however sounds like a great read. I loved reading this review!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Lellalee November 2, 2022 / 10:37 am

    My grown-up daughter and I love mythology and especially Norse mythology. I hope as the series continues, some of the issues you highlight are sorted because it sounds extremely promising!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. sejal November 2, 2022 / 12:06 pm

    I also love mythology and retellings, so thanks for introducing this book to me. I usually don’t refer a map when reading, so it’s cool to see other’s actually do.

    sejal |

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Fransic verso November 2, 2022 / 1:47 pm

    Well, I like the dual POVs kind of stories. I haven’t any book with this type of book and would love to read it. Thank you for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. bournemouthgirl November 5, 2022 / 11:27 am

    I haven’t heard of this book or author before, it was really interesting to read your thoughts and experience of this book. It is not something I would usually read but thank you for sharing your thoughts.


    Liked by 1 person

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