Children, by Bjørn Larssen, may be unlike any book you’ve ever read. In this first book of the Ten Worlds series, Larssen rips the layers of civilizing transformation off the Norse gods. Forget Marvel’s Thor. Forget the Christian and Hellenic influences on Baldr – in fact, forget Baldr altogether. His gods are self-centred and thoughtless and cruel, and their children pay the price. But is this a story about gods and their damaged children alone, or is it allegory?
This isn’t a review, because I was involved, a little bit, in this book’s development. I read an early version, and the almost-last version. I made comments and suggestions, and I wrote a blurb for it, which I think is on the back cover of the print versions. So it would be unethical for me to review it. But I can comment.
Children brought tears to my eyes more than once, both for the characters and the reflection of our own society. Bjørn himself has written about the influences in this book, and I won’t repeat them here, except to say that some are political, and some are personal. The use of allegory to hold a mirror to the politics and ethics of a time is an established literary form: Spenser’s Faerie Queen, Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, Orwell’s Animal Farm. In Children, I see Larssen continuing this tradition.
If you choose to read Children, you’ll need time: time to absorb the story; time to walk away from it (at least I did); time to appreciate Larssen’s spare prose. It’s not a Sunday-afternoon-by-the-fire read. But watching – from a distance and in a small way – this book come into being, and the author wrestling with how to write with clarity and precision what needed to be said, to express the horrors the gods’ children experience – and yet still, in places, be extremely funny, as life is – all I can say is that I was honoured to witness this book’s gestation and birth. Thank you, Bjørn.
You can find all the purchase links – ebook, paperback, or hardcover – here, along with a description of the worlds and characters, written by Loki, and an excerpt.