A Norse inspired tale, enriched with humorous poetry and an old fashion tale.
Author: Joshua Gillingham Publisher: Crowsnest Books
Word Count: 320 pages
I was extremely lucky to win this novel from a twitter competition and I always feel appreciative to receive novels, but now that I have finished this wonderful book, my levels of appreciation are through the roof. This is a book soaked in Norse lore in every aspect of the novel; the story, the characters, the settings and even some poetry thrown. This is also a book that I had seen drifting around twitter, but wasn’t necessary on my TBR but it is definitely a book that should be on any fantasy readers TBR pile.
The Gatewatch is a story about three friends (Torin Ten-Trees, Bryn and Grimsa) who ever since they were children, had always wanted to join The Gatewatch, a group of individuals who have been given the responsibility as Troll slayers. The slaying of a troll, earning your renown and fame. The novel follows their journey finding the Gatewatch; running into crafty dwarves and mysterious spirits along the way, and then joining the companions on their initiation into the famed Gatewatch itself. You soon discover the trolls have their own plans afoot and the companions arrival within the Gatewatch is not as straightforward as first thought.
My favourite part of this novel, which was an unexpected surprise for myself, was the Norse poetry infused within the book. I won’t lie…..I am not the biggest poetry fan…..but I think Gillingham does a fantastic job of embracing the Norse style poetry that he clearly loves so much, whilst at the same time embracing the humour found between companions or those on a good drinking session at the local brewery. I found myself giggling aloud at a few of the verses and very much looking forward to the italics, highlighting the next poem. I found them to add to the lore within the book, immersing me further within the pages.
The Gatewatch is a host to a selection of characters – the three companions all hold a different set of personalities: Torin being the clear leader within the group, Bryn being the light-hearted one and Grimsa the stubborn pig headed amongst the group. You are soon introduced to a host of other troll slayers, dwarves, trolls and goblins; all holding humour at the heart of all the characters. This is not say that some characters are void of serious moments (because there are a few) but this story holds a light-hearted nature within its core. I enjoyed all the characters within the story, feeling attached to the main characters but also having enough variety within the cast, allowing them to play off each other.
My immediate comparison for this novel is The Hobbit, which is a novel (not film) that I truly love. This novel holds the same theme of companionship, which is the heart of both the Hobbit and LOTR novels, and a theme which I think is essential in many fantasy novels. But at the same time The Gatewatch never takes itself too seriously, allowing for the unexpected to occur and for the reader to truly embrace its characters. There are plenty of moments to laugh, enough action to for any fantasy fan and even moments of grit that kept the pages turn. I think any fan of the Hobbit will find much to love within this novel, and Gillingham has done a marvellous job.
Overall, I would give this book a 4/5 – a cast of characters rich in humour and lore, encased in a light-hearted story full of twists and turns. I think this is a must read for any fantasy fan and I am excited to read the sequel on release!