4 out of 5 Stars. Book Review: Iron Song (The Nephilim Chronicles) by Travis Ludvigson
This book is a historical fantasy story that brings to mind the epic Beowulf, or the earlier Norse and Danish heroes like Scyld and and Bodvar Bjarki (not that I am in any sense an expert on these things, only having read them on a very limited basis). It has the feel of an epic fantasy with an overall structure that is familiar in these types of tales.
The book is set in Denmark during the Viking age, when the Danes undertook raids throughout Christian Europe. It is infused with Norse mythology and magic (something that I have neglected during my reading of fantasy fiction, history and mythology—and, I must say something in which the author has sparked my interest).
The book is filled with action from the very beginning. And the author is very good at bringing the reader into it with great detail and wonderful description.
The main character, Soren, develops through the story from a young man into an accomplished warrior, blessed with the strength of the legendary berserkers. His character is fun to read and root for as he grows throughout the book in power and in wisdom.
What I like most is the historical feel to this book. Despite the magic and mythology, or perhaps because of it, it undoubtedly has the feel of good historical fiction. I recommend this book to anyone that enjoys character driven fiction, non-stop action, and wants to learn a little bit about the Danes.
- J.P. Wilder, author of The Crusader (review on Amazon.com)
4 out of 5 Stars. Wonderful Viking Historical Fantasy
Travis Ludvigson's "Iron Song (The Nephilim Chronicles)" is a compelling story, with engaging characters that create an enjoyable, page-turning experience. Even if you're not familiar with the Viking Siege of Paris in 885, Ludvigson provides the right balance of historical narrative and first person account to clarify the events.
Ludvigson's historical fantasy revolves around a Danish warrior Soren Gormson, an unabashed warrior and "berserker" in the classic sense. When Soren, as a young man, finds himself washed ashore in enemy territory, he finds within himself the very spirit of the feared Danish warriors.
Even in the late 9th Century, life was not simple. Soren's skill as a warrior earn him the favor of his adopted father and Jarl, Gorm, but the enmity of his adopted brother Knudt. In addition, Soren, who earns the literal favor of Odin, the All Father, finds himself enmeshed in a battle with the Christians, whose faith seems unshakable. These layers of storytelling, leading up to the historical events of the Second Siege of Paris were highly reminiscent of Bernard Cornwell's Saxon Stories, in a very good way. Readers may find some of the earlier, unexplained events, puzzling. Even when the fantasy elements are introduced, these aren't fully resolved, although they will make more sense in retrospect. That shouldn't deter anyone from reading.
Ludvigson has the ability to create a pacing and flow in "Iron Song (The Nephilim Chronicles)" that will engage most readers. He brings to life Soren's story and provides interesting twists and turns, weaving together historical and fantasy genres in a near seamless tapestry.
- Robroy A. Mccandless, Author of Tears of Heaven (review on Amazon.com)
5 out of 5 Stars. Great Blend: Action, Supernatural, Theological, Inspiring
"I greatly enjoyed getting to know the characters in this book and hearing more of the unfolding supernatural story of the Nephilim Chronicles. I'm not a literary critic, so the occasional typo and sometimes unorthodox pacing were not big deals for me. More important for me were the incredibly realistic fight scenes, insights into Norse warrior culture and theology, visionary perspectives on Christian theology and the authors unique ideas about a theology that encompasses and transcends cultural theologies. All of this packaged in an engaging story that I enjoyed. Finally, I also found that this story inspired me to be a warrior in my own way against the evil that I have been called to battle in this world."
- Joshua Koepp (reader review on Amazon.com)
Yare' Darkness Bound
5 out of 5 Stars. Solid Adventure With Biblical Undertones.
“Yare’ Darkness Bound” is an intriguing work by talented newcomer Travis Ludvigson. The work is an interesting example of urban fantasy, dealing with the Biblical Nephilim as well as other renowned religious figures such as demons and arch-angels. To some extent, I was reminded of “Tears of Heaven” by R.A. McCandless which also fits into the category of “Biblical Heroic Fantasy.” However, the book also brought the shared world novels of Janet Morris to mind, although “Yare’ Darkness Bound” is written more in a common language rather than high poetic style.
The book follows the adventures of a young man named Jacob (commonly called “Jake”) in the novel. Jake has recently ceased his pursuits of becoming a priest due to doubts over the veracity of many Biblical lessons. In the early chapters, we learn that Jake is a runner as well as a sky-diver, and that he blames himself for the death of his father.
I was especially taken with the early chapters of the book which follow Jake through a fairly normal existence. The sky-diving chapter is especially exciting, although it doesn’t really seem to be connected to the rest of the book except as foreshadowing that Jake seems to be surrounded by guardian angels. Travis Ludvigson does a good job presenting Jake as a down-to-earth, believable human being.
As the novel progresses, Jake has a lengthy discussion over his Biblical beliefs with Darien, a priest and mentor to Jake who is more than he seems. Their dialogue encompasses many of the commonly discussed contradictions that eventually come up in religious conversations. The scene skews a little bit in favor of religion (perhaps a touch contrived), but it’s a necessary set up to the events of the novel.
The novel begins to pick up steam when a demon is released from its centuries long imprisonment in a tree in a nearby park. The demon emerges like a starved vampire and slowly gains strength as it embarks on a campaign of evil in the local community—much of which it’s able to blame on Jake.
I found this to be a light and exciting read, and it was interesting to learn a little bit about the Nephilim. I’m the type of person who tends to view all matters of religion with a somewhat suspicious eye, but I found this book only used the religious element as source material for a very human adventure. However, I think those people who are deeply religious might find this novel more impactful than it was for me.
Ludvigson does a good job creating an interesting and appealing character in Jake. There are a couple moments of excess verbiage, but for the most part this is a sharply written book that clips along at a steady pace. Ludvigson is definitely a writer to keep an eye on, and it will be interesting to see the work he produces as he develops further. For now, give “Yare’ Darkness Bound” a chance, and then come back here to add to the discussion.
- Walter Rhein, Author of The Reader of Acheron (review on Amazon.com)
5 out of 5 Stars. Exciting
"Well written. Exciting story. Fast read."
- Barb (reader review on Barnesandnoble.com)
5 out of 5 Stars. Great First Book
"If you like fantasy, fights, and fun reads, you'll love this book! Well-written, interesting characters, and a storyline with twists, but not so many as to lose the reader. Definitely a great first book, and look for more in the future!"
- Mitchel J Stimers (reader review on Amazon.com)
5 out of 5 Stars. Great Escape
Read this book in two sittings, just couldn't put it down. The storyline is straight forward but intriguing. The Author brings a fresh take and puts life in a topic that has become more mainstream, but is able to come from a different angle than other publications or media forms. Looking forward to the next part of the chronicle!
- WrenCat (reader review on Barnesandnoble.com)
4 out of 5 Stars. Angels, Demons, Blood and Belief
Yare Darkness Bound, is the first book of the Nephilim Chronicles. The story revolves around Jake, a library assistant that works at Saint Micheal’s University. Coming from a strictly catholic upbringing Jake struggles with the teachings of the university and often clashes with several staff members who are priests and nuns. When a more level headed priest, Father Darien begins requiring Jake to help him study up about demonology Jake dismisses the stories as just that. But when he begins seeing things, being apart of things that cannot be explained as mere stories the world as he once knew it becomes a very different place.
This story is reminiscent of the movie Prophecy, starring Christopher Walken as well as the comic book series Constantine. Indeed it is a nice addition to the Christian influenced action genre. Much like End of Days, this discusses the heavy themes of faith but doesn’t beat the reader over the head with it. This book is old school, light vs darkness, good vs evil, destiny vs choice, angel vs demon and in that regard it is a quick, entertaining and light read.
My advice when picking this book up is to sit back and enjoy the ride, I know I certainly did.
- M.C. Porteous, Author of How Gods Bleed (review on Amazon.com)
4 out of 5 Stars. Very good read
"I saw a synopsis of Travis' book in a local magazine and bought it because he lives in my neighboring city. It felt right to patronize a local talent. After enjoying Yare I am eager to read the next installment to the promised trilogy. If you are a fan of fantasy or sci fi this story will appeal to you.
Travis makes it an easy but fun read and once you start you will read Yare to completion quite rapidly.
Hope I will not have to wait much longer for the next book."
- Anonymous (reader review on Barnesandnoble.com)
5 out of 5 Stars. A Great Kindle Unlimited Find!
I grabbed this book for free off Kindle Unlimited and was delighted by it. "Unrelenting" is a fast-paced action thriller that you can read in a matter of hours. At 108 pages, it's just the right length. "Unrelenting" is not so long that you have to click the page button fifty times just to see your progress bar go up one percent, and it's not so short that there is nothing to sink your teeth into. This is the perfect size novel for a trip that involves a lot of waiting or sitting. It's a solid story, but not with so much nuance that the effect is lost if you have to take multiple breaks.
While reading this, I was reminded of Jim Roberts's "Olympus Rises (The Code of War Book 1)." The action revolves around a group of military men who go on a camping trip in Wisconsin to process the grief their sharing over the loss of a friend. While they're out camping, they end up being stalked by a mysterious creature prone to dismembering local wildlife and leaving the gory carcasses hanging from trees.
It sounds a bit like "Predator" but there are some surprises as to what the origin of the stalking creature is. Also, the real strength of this book is how the characters are developed in the first half. These are a bunch of military warriors attempting to process their grief, and Ludvigson does a great job showing this in a way that is believable and realistic. Because they are Rangers and Air Force men, they aren't going all to pieces. In fact, they mainly just drink beer and try to tell jokes. But there is a nice nuance of real pain in their banter. I thought the first half of this book was probably the most compelling part, and once the characters are established, the action starts to take off.
"Unrelenting" is a quick and exciting read that is a good choice for someone who is looking for a couple hours of entertainment. The fact that it's free on Kindle Unlimited makes it a no-brainer. Reading "Unrelenting" is far more entertaining than the alternative of wasting time perusing garbage articles on the internet. The fact that there is some real solid writing skill on display, especially in the first half, makes "Unrelenting" a slam-dunk.
- Walter Rhein, Author of The Reader of Acheron (review on Amazon.com)
5 out of 5 Stars. A Myth reborn
Unrelenting puts a modern day twist to a far older legend. As I began reading, I felt immediately comfortable with the cast. I found the author's portrayal of each character easy to take in, believe, and adopt as truth. This became a highlight throughout the well-written story. The easier it was to believe how each person would react, the scarier this story grew.
I loved the tension between character personalities. I got the feeling that because of their military service, each character has a bond with their fellows because of that shared experience. I also had the feeling that without their common bond, some would not be friends with others. There is comradery on display instead. This is far more realistic than most casts in stories like this one.
In the opening, the group of friends has chosen to go on a camping trip together. When they arrive and set up camp, everything is fine-until things go awry.
The author's descriptive prose delivered these segments believably, realistically, and descriptively, some dark things did fester in my brain as I read them. I found the story increasingly more involving. At this point the reader has either invested themselves entirely, or not, I fell into the invested group. The creature was cool- and by cool I mean the author knew his business. Travis Ludvigson re-told the legend for fresh ears, and tied his name to it. I really enjoyed the direction the story took while handling the creature. There were some big surprises, and exciting action throughout Unrelenting's ending.
I was not disappointed.
Should you buy and read this book? Yes. One of the best features of this book is it delivers a short read, (it took me around two hours) that engages.
- Donny Swords, Author of Ways of the Stygia (review on Amazon.com)
4 out of 5 Stars. Warriors and the Woods
Unrelenting is the story of a group of military personnel who after attending the funeral of a fallen friend decided to get away from it all by going camping in the woods. What begins as a relaxing time turns south quick as they come under attack from something supernatural. But for these highly trained individuals when it comes to fight or flight, they know of only one choice and will not allow something as insignificant as a blood thirsty monster to ruin their weekend away.
While Travis ludvigson does write with a kind of 80's charm and this story can be enjoyed on the same level as say a movie like predator can be enjoyed, there is a factor to this particular story that caught me off guard in a good way. When the monster comes lurking for them, the group of soldiers do stand their ground, but it goes beyond simply following their training or simply being macho. These are a group of closely knit people, who have been through things (wars in the middle east) that most people haven't, giving them a stronger sense of brother and sisterhood,not normally associated with a regular group of friends.
Because of this the biggest reason, at least to me for them choosing to stay and fight is because the weekend away was really a way for these individuals to properly mourn a fellow soldier. The funeral they each attended was for everyone who knew and loved him, people that while mourning for him were filled with a much different kind of sadness than his fellow soldiers were. In other words the funeral wasn't enough closure for them, they needed to do more and mourn in a way only they knew how. So when the monster shows up, it is just as important to them to complete the mourning process as it is keeping themselves alive. It is as if by retreating, by not seeing the fight through with the monster they would dishonoring the memory of their fallen friend, who died fighting for what he believed in.
I really liked this take on what is admittedly a classic monster vs soldiers story, the fact that they were motivated by something other than plain old revenge was a really nice touch. I really can't say much else without giving too much away, but I will just add, that I enjoyed this story, it had heart to it, which frankly isn't something you see very often in these kinds of tales and I think that makes worth reading.
- M.C. Porteous, Author of How Gods Bleed (review on Amazon.com)
5 out of 5 Stars. This Novella is a must read
Great novella for anyone who is interested in Native American legends or just reading in general. With a fresh storyline and interesting characters, this book will put you in the shoes of four military buddies who take a hapless camping trip in northern Wisconsin. I am usually not too into reading about mythology, but this book hooked me and before I knew it I had finished the book in one sitting. Travis Ludvigson nails the feeling of the northwoods and definitely knows how to write a good book.
The book starts off at the funeral of a friend and moves briskly from there. Unlike many books of this type that take the first hundred pages or so to acquaint you with the characters, this book does that in about a fourth of that time and jumps right into the action. You may think that the introduction to the characters is too brief, but Travis does a masterful job of making you feel attached to the characters from the get go.
All in all I would say that Unrelenting is a solid tale with great dynamic characters who you really come to like. This book has an originality to it that you don't often find. The way the story is written puts a vivid image in your mind that makes it easy to lose yourself. Travis is an artist who's canvas is paper and who's paint is the written word. After reading this book you will never look at campfire stories the same way.
- Logan S. (review on Amazon.com)
Heroika: Dragon Eaters
Dragons appear as malevolent servants of pagan rule in ”Night Stalkers” by Travis Ludvigson. Sent to break the spirit of the pagan Saxons, Charlemagne’s champions, Roland and Ogier, find themselves up against monsters summoned out of the darkest pits. This is one of my favorites in Heroika. Faced with the prospect of several dragons, the warriors are forced to develop a plan of attack and then build a team and train it. It’s a great mini-epic with bloody dragon rampages under the eaves of dark German forests.
- Excert from review by Fletcher Vredenburgh of Black Gate Magazine
For the full review, click the image below: