As my followers of Reading Other People know, I am constantly looking for new and innovative pieces to analyze and learn from. When I was contacted by Norway’s Nordland Publishing to review their anthology entitled “The Northlore Series Volume 1: Folklore,” I graciously accepted. My knowledge of Scandinavian folklore is limited at best, providing me with ammunition to expand my knowledge of the world.
Comprised of 33 short stories and poems, “The Northlore Series” is heavily ensconced in a world of magic and delight. Alongside such otherworldly enchantments exist ageless themes and motifs ranging from betrayal to courage, all presented with a certain whimsical literary style. When there is a consolidated book with various contributors, as this book clearly is, there is sometimes an inconsistency of thematic representations and ultimate moralistic tellings. While no book is free of such inconsistencies, “The Northlore Series” does a great job in maintaining a gradual building of historical expositions in the context of eccentricity and amusement.
Needless to say, I obtained that semi-historical lesson I was anticipating upon commencing the book. While unique to its region in terms of custom, culture and folklore, Norway’s close proximity to other European natures rich in their own culture allows the story to be infused with a certain pan-European-like semblance of styles and references. As with reading anything of the fantasy genre, the reader has to suspend his or her disbelief, something I had to consciously remind myself of whilst reading “Northlore,” especially when presented with some interesting human/animal cross species (Maras, she-werewolves were indeed my favorite.) Nothing against J.R.R. Tolkien’s master works, but I found this anthology a bit more honest and humble in its tone and ambitions.
Some simple but effective illustrations accompany some of the literary vignettes in “Northlore,” adding to the book’s general feeling of the unique blend of light and historical reading. The experience brought to me a welcome respite from the sometimes crazy world, and even though there are monsters in my own surroundings that I could do certainly do without, I thoroughly enjoyed the ones that haunt the pages of “The Northlore Series: Volume 1 – Folklore.”