New Fantasy Novel Blends Norse Lore With Modern Settings to Create Unique World


Spenser Lincoln’s debut novel Yaga in Yggdrasil City is an eclectic mix of fantasy, mythology, urban fiction, bildungsroman, romance, and adventure. I’ve never read a book quite like it. E. M. Forster wrote in Aspects of the Novel, “Expansion. That is the idea the novelist must cling to. Not completion. Not rounding off, but opening out.” Spenser Lincoln has embodied that idea in his novel, showing us a complex world that we only get glimpses of. Reading this novel is like visiting a foreign country where we come away with only a limited understanding of the people, but have fallen in love with it and want to go on to explore it again and again.

The novel opens when Yaga and his two high school companions, George and Audhild, defeat a lich who is threatening their world. The prologue details this pivotal scene around which is built everything that follows.

Then, in Chapter 1, we jump ahead four years to when Yaga is in college with his younger girlfriend Simone. We follow Yaga’s daily activities, from flying to school in autumn and shoveling sidewalks for money in winter, to coping with how to use his first cellphone and helping his girlfriend make potions. Yes, they attend a college that teaches magic-but this book is no Harry Potter story. Instead, it’s a tale of angst as Yaga continually struggles with his past and whom he wants to be in his present.

The battle with the lich created hardships for George and Audhild while skyrocketing Yaga to momentary celebrity status. Even now, when people have largely forgotten the lich attack, we are told that Yaga “seemed like he could do no wrong. He had radiated majesty that burned down to the subatomic level and influenced generations.” But that majesty and the power he has achieved also have negative effects upon Yaga. They have caused him to be egotistical, resulting in distance being created between him and many of his friends. It has even caused his mother and sister to abandon him.

Yaga in Yggdrasil City is no tale of a superhero. Thor might feel at home living in Yggdrasil, the great world tree of Norse mythology upon which the novel’s city is built, but he has no place in this novel. This novel is an introspective look at the costs of heroship.

It is also a masterly creation of a fictional world. Yggdrasil is its own planet, but one that seems like a familiar, yet alternate reality to the reader. There are plenty of humans on Yggdrasil, but there are also elves, sphinxes, vampires, and many other creatures. In truth, we only get small glimpses of this complicated society and how it functions, and the reader is left wanting more of it. Numerous volumes would not quench one’s thirst for learning the details of this complex and intriguing world. Here is just the opening two paragraphs of Chapter 1 that introduce us to this unique place:

“Outside of proper time and space, an infinite, flat plain existed. Its foundation was the proto-material before the first atom. Scattered across its surface were ruins and transplants from older realities. Transplanted peoples from the preexisting worlds congregated and shaped the only true landmark, a sapling from Yggdrasil, the World Tree.

“Even as a sprout, the tree had towered over and belittled every natural growth and mortal construct that had ever been. Before the first human, or at least bipedal person, had been shunted into this leftover bit of existence, the sapling was a mountain. For eons of relative time, the tree grew, and people built a city out from it and from the inside out. In the areas beyond the shade, they planted their crops and flags and built fences to protect both. Under the leaves, sewage was first, and smoke-belching industry took what little solid ground remained. From the roots of downtown to the high branches of uptown, people lived and made a living providing services to everyone else. Today, Yaga provided one of these city services as a drugstore clerk while he watched the first snow fall outside the window.”

A hero who is now working as a drugstore clerk-you know that kind of a contrast is going to set the reader up for a journey full of twists and turns. I guarantee that every page of Yaga in Yggdrasil City will have you reacting in wonder at the complexities of this strange and magical world, all the result of the imagination of Spenser Lincoln.


Source by Tyler Tichelaar

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