Book Review: Spirit of Orn by Stuart Warren

I decided to give this book a try because the author is a writer for Sequart, a website I’ve been reading from here and there. Check it out!

The book, however, was a DNF for me–though I found what I did read to be very interesting in a please-explain-it-to-me kind of way. I need more context about it before I go further–and I don’t mean context for why the book was written or so on. I need plot context. I’m hoping that by posting about this book, I’ll get encouragement of some sort to look at it again or give SOMEONE ELSE encouragement to look at it and then come and explain it to me. Layman’s terms.

From the very synopsis, you can tell it is a niche novel:

In Spirit of Orn, the cycles of human experience turn again as history repeats itself in the post-apocalyptic future. Centuries after the events that led to global ruin and the decimation of human civilization, almost everything about the former world has been forgotten—even that which led to its destruction. Now, as city states struggle for survival, merciless and ambitious men cloaked in ignorance seize power, rule with fear, and lead the people to war.

Cowardice, redemption, and the search of self are all in play as Conn—a twice bereaved, depressive blacksmith—navigates an unknown world to find a runaway boy with a party of deeply scarred strangers. On his journey, Conn is confronted with the atrocities of human history and must find a reason for life and hope in spite of the despair, cruelty, and absurdity of existence.

Set in Scandinavia and the North Atlantic, Warren pays homage to the cultures and manners of the Nordic people with an extraordinary attention to detail. Take my invitation and enter the world of Orn, get lost in its wild lands, and discover that the despair of life may be the strongest proof of its meaning.

The introduction of the book confirms this. I found the author’s intro very honest and reader-supportive, but 50+ pages in I found myself thinking maybe I don’t really know what the point is. 

I had assumed this book, from everything I did manage to find about it, was going to be a story about post-apocalyptic vikings…

Where my Vikings at?

Sans desert, plus thesis on religion. But the setting (50 pages in, mind you) was one I wasn’t fully grasping or able to compare/contrast to mine. I couldn’t really picture it.

The dialog, which (based on the introduction of the novel) probably isn’t the point of the novel, was also a bit stiff and unnatural for me. That was perhaps my biggest beef with the book.

The main character, Conn, has plenty to be sad about: “…discover that the despair of life may be the strongest proof of its meaning.” His wife died in childbirth and haunts his dreams. His neighbors are (I think?) suspicious of him because he keeps his children instead of sending them off somewhere (which I don’t understand, maybe it’s a dystopian thing?). He stabs a pig carcass for no real reason at some point (maybe to test his blade he’d just forged? Was that it?). I was done.

Without more third-party reviews on this book, I couldn’t be sure what I was reading, but I was sure I’m probably not the person to judge it fairly without more context. At 541 pages, you can tell Warren is a prolific writer. I’m just not his prolific reader.

You can buy it on Amazon here. 

I was given this novel in exchange for an honest review.

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