Move over, Greek and Roman gods, the Norse are coming!
Many of us in North America were raised knowing about Greek gods, but we haven’t learned much about the Norse gods. Some of that is changing, with a few stories being told about Thor and Loki. But there’s still a long way to go, and there are more Norse gods than just those two.
Enter Loki’s Wolves, a new middle grade book by K.L. Armstrong and M.A. Marr. Thirteen-year-old Matt Thorsen from Blackwell, South Dakota, just happens to be a descendant of the long-gone Thor. And two classmates in school, cousins Fen and Laurie Brekke, are descended from Loki. So when Ragnarök comes at the end of the world—which is apparently just weeks away!—these three will have to stand in for the gods and fight to save the world. That’s what the local Seer says.
But before that happens, the three have to race against time to build a team of descendants of the other ancient Norse gods, and though they’ve all got some divine powers, they have to learn to use them. If Matt has to face the World Serpent as the chosen champion—something he’s not exactly looking forward to—he has to get very strong, very quickly.
It doesn’t help to know that in the original myths of Ragnarök, the gods actually didn’t win. Can the team of inexperienced and reluctant preteen champions change that outcome? Especially since another very serious and disturbing element from the original myths occurs just when they’re starting to get their team together. And meanwhile, if their own families don’t entirely want them to win—are they going to face more opposition than they expect?
I think any preteen who loves retellings of ancient myths or stories based on those myths is going to love Loki’s Wolves. It moves at a quick pace and leads Matt, Fen, and Laurie into ever more exciting, complex, and perilous adventures. The only complaint I had as I finished the book was the realization that this is the first of a trilogy called The Blackwell Pages—and we’re going to have to wait till next year to find out what happens next!
But before Odin’s Ravens comes out in 2014, the kids will have something else to concentrate on while they’re waiting. The authors are in the midst of creating a website, also called The Blackwell Pages, where readers of the books can learn about the divine characters and their original stories. There will be activities relating to the stories and even guides for teachers to teach Norse history and myth. And then, in 2015, the trilogy will culminate with Thor’s Serpent, where Matt and his friends will finally face their great test.
I know that when I discovered the Norse myths, as a teen, I was thrilled and fascinated. These stories and that website would have sent me over the moon. (A Norse god whose name, by the way, is Máni.) If you or a young person you know loves stories based on myth and wants to enjoy a tale based on Norse myths in particular, then Loki’s Wolves will be right up your alley.