The Rebels of Vanaheim
A Marvel Legends of Asgard Novel
by Richard Lee Byers
This title was previously available on NetGalley and is now archived.
Pub Date 21 Dec 2021 | Archive Date 24 Nov 2021
Aconyte Books, Aconyte
The dead have returned.
Odin, All-Father of Asgard, dispatches the heroic warrior Heimdall and the Valkyrie Uschi to eliminate a mysterious infestation of draugr – the living dead – in the proud realm of Vanaheim. Yet his home is not as Heimdall remembers it. Anti- Asgardian sentiment is rife, and the arrival of just two warriors from Asgard to deal with the draugr threat only incenses its people further. With rebellion growing in Vanaheim, Heimdall must investigate this conspiracy and the undead, even if it pits him against his own kin, to preserve the peace of the Realm Eternal.
A Note From the Publisher
“A great blend of Marvel fantasy and Norse mythology with a sprinkle of science fiction. And the character development whilst light, is fantastic, plus the sibling rivalry and ribbing from Sif is utterly delightful.”
– Big Geordie Geek
“An absolute ’must’ for the legions of Marvel Universe fans… With many an unexpected plot twist and turn, The Head of Mimir is a wonderfully entertaining, impressively entertaining, and highly recommended.”
– Midwest Book Review
“The Head of Mimir is a hell of a story, more in line with the epics of legend than anything I’ve read in the Thor comics, but it fits so well with the universe and characters that Marvel have adapted over the decades. Richard Lee Byers clearly know not just the world of the comics, but the original myths too, and manages to weave them together in great ways. ”
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When Heimdall and his companion, the Valkyrie Captain Uschi, return to his homeland of Vanaheim, they are shocked to find it in the grip of an infestation of draugr - hideous, undead creatures. But not everyone is welcoming of their presence or offers of help, making Heimdall’s task even harder, and he soon finds himself at odds with his own people. However, the threat of the draugr becomes even greater than Heimdall could have imagined. And are the draugr even the real enemy? “The Rebels of Vanaheim” by Richard Lee Byers is the fourth novel in the “Marvel: Legends of Asgard” series and follows on from the author’s previous novel “The Head of Mimir”. Just as in that book, the story is set in a time long before Heimdall became the guardian of the Bifrost, and once again the story is related in flashback by a member of the Warriors Three, in this case Hogun, reluctantly taking on the role of babysitter and telling the tale to a young girl. The descriptions of the draugr are deliciously gory and squirm-inducing, and their power is vividly brought to life by Byers. The story isn’t all relentless action and gore, although there is plenty of that and it is visceral and exciting, but there is also intrigue and mystery as Heimdall and Uschi discover that they aren’t being told absolutely everything about what is going on. When they discover the truth, they realise the threat goes far beyond mere draugr. Heimdall and Uschi have a solid relationship based on friendship and mutual respect and as lead characters the reader couldn’t ask for more. The supporting cast of characters is diverse, from gods to dwarves, and the main players feel well-rounded and interesting with realistic motivation. Following on from Byers’ earlier book in the series, the story mentions previous events and they have a bearing on the narrative, specifically regarding Heimdall’s abilities, but the book is still readable as a standalone novel. And readable it certainly is - pacy and breathtaking at times and thought-provoking at others. It has well-rounded characters and vivid scene-setting, with plenty of sorcery and magical weapons to satisfy fans, and a nail-biting climax. Richard Byers writes in dense, fluid language which demands close attention but which never bores, and it is always a joy to escape into the world that he has created. “The Rebels of Vanaheim” is a worthy follow-up to “The Head of Mimir“ and I can’t wait for the next one!
(ARC received in exchange for honest review at www.netgalley.com) ‘The Rebels of Vanaheim’ is the latest entry in Marvel’s ongoing ‘Legends of Asgard’ series. Richard Lee Byers takes the reins in his second outing, having written the first instalment, ‘The Head of Mimir’, before stepping aside for C.L. Werner’s sequel, ‘The Sword of Surtur’. Byers was a superb choice to introduce the series, his previous work on the ‘Forgotten Realms Series’ standing him in good stead to write equally exciting tales under Marvel’s banner. Our story follows the hero Heimdall and his close friend, the Valkyrie Uschi, on what they intended to be a quick trip home to Vanaheim to see their folks. Alas, when the dead walk and their families seem curiously preoccupied with whispered secrets, Heimdall and Uschi find themselves caught up in the seed of a rebellion nobody knew was coming. However, a series of prophetic dreams and the appearance of ominous, rune-laden swords suggests that there may be more to the story than anyone could have imagined… Media franchise novelisations can be a bit hit and miss. For instance, some knock it out of the park, like Eric S. Nylund’s astounding take on the Halo series in ‘The Fall of Reach’, whilst others are just plain insulting. Thankfully, ‘The Rebels of Vanaheim’ is an absolute highlight, working just as well on its own as it does with the Marvel Universe at its back. It’s immediately clear that Byers is an excellent writer, striking a fine balance between humanising his characters and packing scenes with the drama and action we expect from the comics and movies. Heimdall and Uschi are both well realised and therefore rather endearing, though Heimdall’s tendency to rely on his own thoughts and disregard his companion’s advice is clearly a point of contention for Uschi. While she’s determined to uncover the truth of what’s happening in Vanaheim, she’s all too often placated and ignored by Heimdall, who frustrates in his insistence on single-mindedly pursuing surface-level leads and disregarding underlying oddities we see become central to the narrative. This becomes ever more apparent as the story progresses as an underlying tension between the two, before Byers rewards readers in the final third as Heimdall realises he must acknowledge his flaws and change. It’s small snippets of character growth like this that really lend gravity to the story, and Byers’ world-building is an immaculately dressed stage on which he can play out these more thoughtful scenes. With this in mind, Byers leans much more heavily into Fantasy and Mythology than some of the Sci-Fi found in other corners of the Marvel Universe, and as a result his depictions of Vanaheim and Nidavellir are gorgeous, both rich with detail and teeming with life. In addition, Byers maintains a tight pace that keeps his writing snappy and his story moving, which is especially impressive given the breadth of content he covers. That’s not to say that ‘The Rebels of Vanaheim’ is entirely flawless, however. Although I largely enjoyed the fluidity and cadence of Byers’ prose, I found his sentences ran on a little too long occasionally, which made certain paragraphs less comprehensible than I’m sure he intended. Some of the language he uses is a little unusual, too, with a slant towards the over-complicated that has much the same result as his run-on sentences. Regardless, these issues crop up infrequently enough as not to pose too much of an issue. My primary issue was Byers’ choice to frame his narrative as a story within a story, namely the story of an adult telling the tale to a child, long after the events supposedly occurred. We only briefly see these characters at the beginning and end of the novel, and I couldn’t help but feel that the story concluded nicely without the prologue, which felt saccharine sweet and fairytale-like when it started harping on about lessons learned. These chapters are vastly different in tone to everything else on offer and feel rather jarring, to the degree that I’m still not entirely sure what their purpose was. That being said, they have no impact at all on the meat of the novel and you can safely ignore them, making them only trivially detrimental to the book. In conclusion, ‘The Rebels of Vanaheim’ is a fantastic literary take on Marvel’s Asgard, and further, it’s an excellent novel on its own. Byers’ experience in fantasy really shows here, his structure holding everything together and allowing him to show off a little with some well-earned sentiment, a well-realised world and a story that twists and turns without feeling overly cliché or too improbable to invest in. I strongly recommend you give this a look if you’re already a Marvel fan of Marvel, but I’d also suggest that more general Fantasy fans take a chance on it - it just might surprise you. About Marvel Entertainment Marvel Entertainment, LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company, is one of the world’s most prominent character-based entertainment companies, built on a proven library of more than 8,000 characters featured in a variety of media for over eighty years. Marvel utilizes its character franchises in entertainment, licensing, publishing, games, and digital media. For more information visit marvel.com. © 2020 MARVEL #Marvel #MarvelEnt #Aconytebooks #review
The dead have returned. Odin, All-Father of Asgard, dispatches the heroic warrior Heimdall and the Valkyrie Uschi to eliminate a mysterious infestation of draugr – the living dead – in the proud realm of Vanaheim. Yet his home is not as Heimdall remembers it. Anti- Asgardian sentiment is rife, and the arrival of just two warriors from Asgard to deal with the draugr threat only incenses its people further. With rebellion growing in Vanaheim, Heimdall must investigate this conspiracy and the undead, even if it pits him against his own kin, to preserve the peace of the Realm Eternal. In The Rebels of Vanaheim, author Richard Lee Byers brings his vast experience in horror and fantasy to the Marvel Legens of Asgard series by Aconyte books. He mixes those elements very well and ties it all into the Norse mythology that Stan Lee first developed for the classic Thor comics. I was very pleased to be able to read an advance copy of this novel which will be published in December of 2021. The inclusion of draguar, dwarves and named swords of power makes for a classic fantasy tale filled with adventure and high-stakes. Byers shines in this regard, and what he presented here makes me interested in seeking out more of his work. Another high point of the book, for me, was the framing sequence that allows for this story from Heimdall's past to be told. I would really like to see Byers give us more of this as it was told with an interesting dynamic and a touch of humor. About Marvel Entertainment Marvel Entertainment, LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company, is one of the world’s most prominent character-based entertainment companies, built on a proven library of more than 8,000 characters featured in a variety of media for over eighty years. Marvel utilizes its character franchises in entertainment, licensing, publishing, games, and digital media. For more information visit marvel.com. © 2020 MARVEL
Richard Lee Byers’ second outing in Aconytes Marvel universe expertly crafts fantasy and horro to tell a tale of shape shifting zombies, dwarfs and mystic swords. In The Rebels of Vanaheim, Byers tells the story of a younger Heimdell before he is gaurdian of the Bifrost. In the book he is sent by Odin, the All father, with his companion the Valkyrie Uschi to investigate an infestation of Draugr (the living dead) in his home of Vanaheim. On the way to investigate he decides to pop home and visit the folks, and also convinces Uschi she needs to do the same and drop in on dear old Mum and Dad, although she can think of nothing worse than visiting the family who thinks that she has dishonoured them. However, things are not as they seem. Heimdell receives a reception that he wasn’t expecting as he has to battle the living dead who change with every encounter. Not only that, something is a little amiss with mum and dad. On the other hand, when Uschi visits home, she gets the reception that she expects which is colder than the land of the frost giants. However, when her father receives a visit from Frey, the God of the Harvest, her hackles are raised and she feels that there is something amiss, especially when he turns up at Heimdell’s house when she goes to see him. This is the second outing for Heimdell in the Marvel universe, and my introduction to Richard Lee Byers’ writing. I did not know when I picked this up that this was a follow on from The Head of Mimir, although, whilst it references the first book can easily be picked up as a stand-alone. I have to say that I was impressed by this book. Richard Lee Byers successfully mixes elements of horror, fantasy, action and mystery to write a book that keeps you gripped to the very end. Furthermore he integrates Norse Mythology with the Marvel Universe. To be honest, this Norse fantasy successfully expands the Marvel version of Asgard to give it an expansive feel. The plot itself interweaves several strands that keeps you gripped and guessing what is going to happen next, with one of the most interesting things is how he develops the Draugr, whilst incorporating elements of mythology. Initially, the Draugr are pretty senseless, however, as the infestation develops, so does the Draugr themselves from mindless beasts to shapeshifting horrors. There is plenty of action throughout the book, and the mystery element of the book keeps you turning the pages to find out what exactly is going on. Whilst I have not read any of Richard Lee Byers’ books previously, upon investigation it seems that he has a good pedigree for writing within a franchise elements with stories written in the Forgotten Realms, Pathfinder & Magic:The Gathering amongst others. In fact, he has 161 entries listed on Goodreads, so I reckon that is a pretty vast experience of writing fantasy and I will definitely be investigating more of his books on the strength of this.
Review: The Revels of Vanaheim A Marvel Legends of Asgard Novel by Richard Lee Byers I want to start by saying thank you to Netgalley and the wonderful folks at Aconyte for giving me access to this E-ARC and to Richard Lee Byers for creating another fantastic Legends of Asgard novel focusing on Heimdall! The Legend of Vanaheim is a sequel to Byers equally brilliant The Head of Mimir which was published in 2020 and the second Aconyte title I read! A master of weaving Marvel canon with Norse mythology and a healthy dose of fantasy and topped off with a touch of science fiction Byers creates a gripping, fast-paced and action-packed tale. As with all my E-Arc reviews I will avoid major spoilers. We see Heimdall return once more to the battlefield but not everything is straightforward. The Dead have returned. In his wisdom Odin, All-Father of Asgard, sends Heimdall and the Valkyrie Uschi to eliminate the mysterious draugr (the living dead) infestation in Vanaheim. The Draugr are not the only thing plaguing Heimdall’s homeworld as the duo quickly discover. Anti-Asgardian Sentiment is rife, and the fact that the all-knowing All-Father sends just two warriors, no matter their skill and feats, from the realm of Asgard only adds a nearly deadly fuel to the flame. It falls to Heimdall and Uschi to investigate not only the undead but this growing conspiracy even if it risks pitting them against their own kin to preserve peace in the Realm Eternal. What can I say, Byers hits it out of the park with this second book in the Legends of Asgard series featuring Heimdall. I will confess I have become a bit obsessed with Aconyte’s growing line up. It ticks all my boxes of gripping stories, geeky goodness and often highlighting and giving voice to characters from the tie in universes that sometimes get overlooked. Couple this with their fantastic authors and the wonderful, genuine and natural inclusivity you find within the pages it’s hard NOT to like them. If you said I am a bit of a fangirl, you would be absolutely right! All that in mind I have to confess that Norse Mythology and literature as well as the Asgardian Tales of Marvel are one of my biggest passions so much so the basis of a lot of my university work featured this if not focusing on Marlowe and Shakespeare! Since seeing the old cartoons of The Mighty Thor on the weekends to being read and later reading The Hobbit and The Lord of The Rings things with touches or hints to the rich mythos have always been close to my heart. When I saw The Head of Mimir I knew I had to give it a read when the baddy turned out to be, in part at least, my all time favourite villainess in Marvel I knew I found something fantastic. When I learned Byers was coming back to the world of Asgard I knew it would be good, I just wasn’t aware how good. The storytelling is brilliant, the narrative is interwoven with several threads that could easily all have been a singular plot on their own but each is weaved so expertly and subtly together that you find yourself learning the connections with the characters. You never can truly guess what is going on, who is bad and who isn’t and it keeps you hooked. Due to personal reasons I had to finish this book in three separate sittings with a bit of a gap between each one. I was, however, always thinking to myself, I wonder what will happen next – A sign of a truly good book. I was able to pick up and remember where I left off because the story had me hooked and stuck with me. I am actually doing a sneaky re-read of both The Head of Mimir and then this title now that things have settled down. On top of the wonderful plot the actual writing is fabulous, a wonderful mixture of vivid and slightly ghastly descriptions of Draugr paired with epic fight scenes on top. To say I was slightly in awe of Byres skill is a true understatement. The characterization as well is fantastic – each character comes to life in their own way. Their mixture of positive and negative traits displayed for all to see, something highly appreciated when dealing with ‘Gods’ and characters of myth. The characters aren’t one dimensional, it’s not clear cut if this character is evil, this character is good. Byers manages to show that even these god-like beings have a plethora of flaws. Flaws that are not always overcome but we see the characters develop and work on them including factors that people face in everyday life such as rifts in family. At the end of that, other than the main villain, even characters I disliked, purely on their personality and actions but definitely not the writing, I came to like or at least respect. Another sign of a good author. One other thing I adore and feel the need to mention is the framing of the tale. Without too many spoilers both The Head of Mimir and The Rebels of Vanaheim start with another warrior of Asgard using the tale to either help pass time or encourage some sort of growth, often in the younger generation. While it may seem a little detail I found this nod to the old oral tradition and the idea of tales of battles and feats being told or passed down generations such a fantastic touch. It always makes me smile and frames the actual story so well. It also, if you are a bit of a nerd like me, makes you feel like you have been listening as well. A nice little bonus. I honestly have to say I am in love with this title. Once I finish my re-read of The Head of Mimir I’m going to finally get around to review that one as well. Bryers has once again delved into the source materials and come out with something that is truly spectacular. A story about facing your fears, finding yourself including your weaknesses and patching up things that may not always be as broken as they seem. On top of this we have epic fights, vivid world building and a gripping story. A complete must read for a fan of Marvel’s Asgardians, Norse Mythology or just a good Fantasy story with a sprinkling of Sci-fi. Basically, just read it! You will not be disappointed! The ebook of this title will be available worldwide on December the 7th 2021 with the US paperback following the 21st December 2021. For the UK the revised release date is the 17th February 2022 but it most definitely will be worth the wait and I already have it on preorder! So don’t delay and do the same. Some of the places you can get your hands the ebook include Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo and Indigo. For the paperbacks there is Amazon (including but not limited to US, Canada, Germany, Italy and the UK), as well as Barnes and Nobel, Indiebound, Waterstones, Blackwells and the Book Depository among others. Aconyte Books are the novel division of Asmodee Entertainment. Asmodee Entertainment is based in an amazing building in Nottingham, England. The Star Brewery opened in 1852, producing beer for Shipstones until 1991. Richard Lee Byers is the author of fifty horror and fantasy novels including This Sword for Higher, Marvel Legends of Asgard and Forgotten Realms among others. He also has written many short stories, scripted a graphic novel and contributed content on tabletop and electronic games. A resident of the Tampa Bay area, he’s an RPG enthusiast and a frequent program participant at Florida conventions, Dragon Con and Gen Con. About Marvel Entertainment Marvel Entertainment, LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company, is one of the world’s most prominent character-based entertainment companies, built on a proven library of more than 8,000 characters featured in a variety of media for over eighty years. Marvel utilizes its character franchises in entertainment, licensing, publishing, games, and digital media. For more information visit marvel.com. © 2021 MARVEL
#Marvel #MarvelEnt #Aconytebooks #review I cannot get enough of these "Legends of Asgard" books! As I've come to expect from this series, "The Rebels of Vanaheim" is written brilliantly, has all the "Asgard atmosphere" that I've started to crave, has an exceptional plot, and (obviously!) superb characters. If you're looking to get "lost" in a book, then these are the books you need - and why not start with this one? My thanks to the author, publisher, and NetGalley. This review was written voluntarily and is entirely my own, unbiased, opinion. About Marvel Entertainment Marvel Entertainment, LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company, is one of the world’s most prominent character-based entertainment companies, built on a proven library of more than 8,000 characters featured in a variety of media for over eighty years. Marvel utilizes its character franchises in entertainment, licensing, publishing, games, and digital media. For more information visit marvel[dot]com. © 2021 MARVEL