Category: Vikings


I’m running late posting this, but I’ve been really excited to dig into this and talk about it.

 

April Box 1So, the theme for April’s Unicorn Crate was Northern Myths. That means lots of Viking and Celtic based stuff. I’m going to go down through the layers of the box and talk about things as they were packed, so the actual book itself is going to be the last item I reach. Let’s dig in then.

May Box 2

First thing, I really like the cover art/ list of contents. It’s a nifty print with the art from the website thumbnail and about the size of a post card. The big thing I like with this is that it sources where the items are from, which means that if you enjoy them you’ll be able to find the shop that made them. I adore that completely and will be making use of it.

Moving clockwise from that, we hit the Thor’s Hammer key chain. This is the only thing that I’m not big on. A big part of this is that it’s Marvel’s Thor’s hammer rather than a Mjölnir of some stripe. Well, it is, but it feels aesthetically out of place with the rest of the box. It’s also really big for a key chain and, while not as heavy as one that I use, the size isn’t great for my bag. Plus, with everything else having been hand made or small company sourced, it feels like a bit of an odd inclusion.

The unicorn book plates are nice. The art is really pretty and they’re big enough to look good but not so big as to affect the look of the page it’s placed in too badly. Plus, it’s cool to see how they tied in the unicorn theme with the rest of the box.

I need to find some place to put the Celtic shield pin. The lines are crisp and well defined and the colors complement each other well. The combination of Celtic knots and runes is a little odd, but it isn’t distractingly so. I like it quite a bit.

On to one of my favorite things here. The Book Balm’s Mead of Valhalla lip balm, from Cedar Chest Press, is awesome. It feels fantastic and it does a really good job moisturizing. It also doesn’t need to be reapplied constantly and lasts through drinking stuff. There isn’t a ton of flavor to it, I think that could be because it’s a honey/vanilla/raspberry flavored balm and two of those don’t tend to be heavily flavored in my experience. The raspberry adds a fantastic scent to it, which was nice. This is something I’m definitely going to look for once I’ve used the stick included..

The last thing in this layer is the Shield-Maiden of Rohan candle from Half Oak Candles. I’d been looking forward to this since I ordered the box and before I knew anything about the scent or where it was from. I have a hard time placing quite what the scent of this candle is. It mostly just smells clean, there might be an undercurrent of something floral, but it is subtle. It burns really well and melts evenly, which is great. I do wish that the candle was a bit bigger, the two ounce size leaves me wanting to stash it back for later rather than use it. That said, I’m definitely going to be checking out Half Oak Candles etsy shop. If this is a fair example of their quality, then their other stuff is going to be awesome too.

May Box 3

Layer two includes the item that hands down excited me most to see was in the box. I’ve been meaning to get a copy of Neil Gaiman’s Norse Mythology since before it was released. It being a bonus book for this box was a fantastic surprise.

The art print is really cool featuring Yggdrasil, the world tree, and the nine realms. The color works really well and it sort of strikes a balance between just being a nifty print and kind of reminding me of a map. The runic styling on the writing on it can make it difficult to read the names of the realms. This isn’t a downside, they can be read, it just takes a little effort. As a nifty side thing, it includes a version of Jörmungandr, the world serpent, approaching Midgard.

May Box 4

The last layer held the book of the month itself, Jessica Leake’s Beyond a Darkened Shore, the signed book plate, and a note from the author. All of this came in a Unicorn Crate drawstring bag. The bird drawn on the bookplate is a fantastic detail, especially with the bird on the dust jacket. I appreciate the note from the author, it’s a really cool inclusion and Unicorn Crate including something like that is just super awesome.

Overall, I like what’s included here. It feels worth the admission price and, as mentioned before, I’m really glad that they included where the various items came from on the list. It’s also introduced me to a new author and a book I would not have heard of otherwise. My only real issue with the Unicorn Crate itself is the shipping. The cost isn’t terrible by any means, but the method of shipping they used was a fusion between FedEx and USPS that took close to a week to arrive and that I couldn’t track for the last couple of days before it arrived because FedEx didn’t have the USPS tracking number. I’m pretty distinctly not a fan of that. That said, I would order another one of these. It feels worth it and I just enjoy getting things like this in the mail.

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First off, I want to apologize for being a week late with this.  Life and classes got a bit crazy, and unfortunately the blog kind of fell by the wayside.  This will also be the first review where I give it a rating out of five.  Here’s hoping that that works out.  I’m also going to admit here and now that I haven’t read the first two books in this series.  My original plan was to read and review this one and then see if I could dig up the other two someplace.  That plan’s been canceled now in favor of some thrillers that I picked up last Tuesday.  Anyone who’s interested in my review copy of Ship of the Dead can check Goodreads in the next few days, I’ll be posting it there probably Monday.

There are a very few books that I just don’t want to keep reading after the first chapter. Ruin Warriors: Ship of the Dead by James Jennewein and Tom S. Parker is one of those few books. I really wanted to like this book, but there were just too many problems for it to work for me.

Ship of the Dead tells the story of Dane the Defiant as he drags his friends across the country side to save his one true love from being a valkyrie forever after. In order to accomplish this, Dane makes a deal with Skuld, one of the goddesses of fate, to destroy the revived villain Thidrek the Terrifying to give Astrid the choice of being human again. Trouble strikes the band quickly when Lur the Bent, also known as stock mentor figure number one, decides that he needs to eat the magic apple that they need in order to convince a dwarven smith to make them the magical weapon of zombie killing. From there on, we are treated to lot’s of posturing, second guessing of Dane by his supposedly trusting companions, and the kind of feel good bull pocky that would make Saturday morning cartoons ashamed of themselves.

I found much more to complain about with this book than things to like. It read as though the authors had done little to no research on Vikings or Norse mythology or the time period. The feel good that I mentioned earlier is one of the non-research related things that got to me. Why are there Vikings in the happy good times kids’ book? Why are they bastardizing Norse mythology to say that one can get into Valhalla by being true to oneself and everyday noble rather than dying on a bloody battle field surrounded by the other guys’ dead bodies? Oh, right, kids’ book can’t have anything the good guys do requiring a violent death. What about the part where Dane’s theoretically trusting and faithful companions keep second guessing him at every turn? These guys have been with him for two books before this one, and they still don’t seem to trust him in anything. Or the part where Lur never gets anything but praise for eating the apple of youth? The Ruin Warriors, other than Dane who is always wrong, love Lur for eating the apple and being a young twenty something again. Or the part where apparently everyone over the Bifrost bridge, who isn’t Astrid or Mist or Skuld, is holding a massive idiot ball? The names used for the characters also bothered me a bit, there was no Dane Voldarson no it was “the Defiant”, and it went that way for all of the characters. It was almost like the writers picked one major trait for each of them and then named them after it. Is this something that changes over the character’s lives? Will Dane eventually be changed to “the Second-guessed” or “the Untrusted” or “the Standard Childish Hero”? This is never shown, so I’m forced to assume that his parents just up and decided that he was going to be a little snot and called him “Defiant.”

There’s still more, not much though, there’s still the lack of research. I know that Norse mythology isn’t as widely read as Greek, but this is a kids’ book at least bother to get it right. Hel is not a dragon or whatever scaly monstrosity they decided to make her, she’s half of a beautiful woman and half of a horrifying rotting corpse. I can’t find any record of a “queen of the valkyries”, which feels like a tacked on bit of modern day bureaucracy to make the writers more comfortable. There were an absolute ton of those little bits of the modern that, had they been handled well, could have been funny. Instead of being humorous bit of non sequitur, the pieces of modern life just served to make the authors look more incompetent. Why would there be “attached outhouses” when the idea of an indoor toilet was still considered gross less than a century ago? Why is the bad guy demanding a signed memo rather than going for the kill? This isn’t funny, it’s sad and it makes me sad that I read all two hundred and ninty-four pages of this drivel. I cannot suggest this book to anyone. One out of five and a request for my time back.