This Week’s Book Review – Valhellions

Looking for a good read? Here is a recommendation. I have an unusual approach to reviewing books. I review books I feel merit a review. Each review is an opportunity to recommend a book. If I do not think a book is worth reading, I find another book to review. You do not have to agree with everything every author has written (I do not), but the fiction I review is entertaining (and often thought-provoking) and the non-fiction contain ideas worth reading.

Book Review

Valhalla Unmasked

Reviewed by Mark Lardas
May 1, 2022

“Valhellions,” by Tim Akers, Baen Books, 2022, 288 pages, $16.00 (Trade Paperback), $8.99 (Ebook)

Take a typical college-aged man from the Midwest in today’s America. Give him the ambition to slay dragons and become a knight errant. It is unrealistic, but it is his dream. Then let him discover magic really works. He slays a fire-breathing dragon (with his mom’s Volvo), and is invited to join Knight Watch, an organization dedicated to protecting ordinary Americans from intrusions by supernatural enemies

“Valhellions,” a fantasy novel by Tim Akers, uses this setting. It is sequel to “Knight Watch,” which introduced John Rast and Knight Watch. John’s dream job is not turning out quite as he dreamed. He has to hide magic from the mundane world which dampens the fun. His parents think he is a highly-paid troubleshooter for a tech firm. (He is – sort of.) The girl he adores, Chesa Lozaro joined Knight Watch as an elven ranger princess (that was her dream). Despite working together, she still distains him.

If anything can go wrong, it does, especially to John. His life has become a collision between Tolkien and the Marx Brothers, with him playing the straight man. Now the world is about to end. Some renegades at Valhalla are trying to trigger Ragnarok, the twilight of the gods. It is up to John and his team to stop it.

The job gets complicated because the Valkyries running Valhalla mistrust Knight Watch. Valhalla and Knight Watch fought a war some seventy years earlier (possibly as part of World War II) which Knight Watch won. The Valkyries are convinced Knight Watch’s claim is a hoax, an effort to steal more power from Valhalla. The theft of two items from Valhalla that can trigger Ragnarok shortly after Knight Watch arrives seals Valhalla’s mistrust. It also causes the loss of part of the magic that keeps Valhalla and Knight Watch running.

This casts much of the fantastic universe into the mundane world. (John’s magical realm home becomes a shabby suburban tract house and Valhalla turns into a dilapidated Illinois event hall. But John and his team persist, traveling far distances (well, to Minnesota) to save the world. The resulting tale is epic and side-splitting.

“Valhellions” is a fun fantasy romp. Akers keeps things light and amusing. He gives readers a fast-paced adventure, deftly mixing the mundane and the fantastic. If you take a James Bond novel mixed with Tolkien and the Three Stooges (definitely shaken, not stirred) you get “Valhellions.”

Mark Lardas, an engineer, freelance writer, historian, and model-maker, lives in League City. His website is marklardas.com.

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