Sunday, 30 March 2014

A.S Byatt, Ragnarok

I'm not sure this review of Ragnarok can do it justice, it's simply marvellous book and possibly the best novel I've read so far this year. It's slim, at a skimpy 154 pages, but it's made to be savoured, plenty of times I'd read a sentence, paragraph or even a whole chapter, then immediately turnaround and re-read it.

 I'm disappointed that I only have Ragnarok on loan from the library, as I can easily see myself wanting to go back to this periodically.

It's part of the canongate myth series, which I've only newly discovered.

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ISBN: 9781847672971

The Plot: Taken from Nordic mythology, Ragnarok is the tale of the predestined apocalypse, an epic battle cumulating in the destruction of the gods.

Rating:««««« (5/5)

I'm tempted just to type out great big chunks of the text, just so you can see for yourself how great this book is, but I don't want to ruin the experience for anyone of reading this from start to finish (and then back again).

For a novel about the death of immortals, there's just so much life in this book; the gods, asgard and the huge world-sustaining tree Yggdrasil feel almost tangible. A.S Byatt manages to make Nordic mythology seem plausible, but also at the same time magical and enchanting.

Ragnarok is considered, well researched and faithful to the original source, whilst being fresh and innovative. Alongside the retelling of demise of the gods, is a story about a young war evacuee who uses the tales of asgard as escapism. I thought this enhanced the story and I saw myself in the child, as I too was swept up in the fantasy that A.S Byatt masterfully creates.

It's hard to pick a favourite part of the novel, but I think the descriptions of Loki's monstrous children are just inspired. A vast sea-snake, a  gigantic wolf and a half-zombie daughter, could have seemed just absurd, but because of A.S Byatt's tremendous talents, they seemed threatening, complex and strangely alluring.

I know I'm going to be on a mission the next few months to try and persuade friends and family to read Ragnarok, as I'm desperate to talk to someone about it. Seriously, everyone need to promote this book to the top of their reading list straight away.

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