Rating if the Book Were a Movie: PG
Book Author: Adrian Liput
Illustrators: Al Goyo
Publisher: Yelly Studio
Interior Artwork: 3.2
Cover Artwork: 3.2
About the Book:
Battle Code: Ragnarok ; Blood on Ice by Yelly Studios funded on Kickstarter in March 2023 receiving a ‘Project We Love’ badge with some impressive performance stats including funding within 12 hours of launch.
The backdrop to the story takes the Viking versus Saxon wars of the Dark Ages and transposes them into a far future, out in space, setting.
An alien race, the Jotuns, have taken some of the warring Dark Age Northern European peoples and settled them in space so that they can study first-hand the strategies, violence and craftiness inherent in this set of humans, who apparently do all these three things in spades.
In particular this is an action driven story about Torhild Einarsdottir a young space age Jarl who is planning to avenge her father’s death at the hands of the Saxons of Northumbria -not the county in Northern England but in this setting a huge planet/ship inhabited by her Saxon enemies. At the same time she is seeking to carve out her own saga and reintroduce the people to the Viking way of life – namely raiding and pillaging.
Torhild’s world is a moon called Trondheim, other Viking forces are scattered on other moons and the action in volume 1 of Battle Code: Ragnarok ; Blood on Ice takes place in the town of Glimt on the icy moon of Salstraumen. It is the kingdom her uncle Eirikr. As with any Viking leader worth their Dane Geld Torhild is always having to prove her battle prowess in the eyes of her warriors.
She also needs to augment her forces if she’s to successfully raid Northumbria. What better way to kill the several birds with one well aimed sling shot or in the space Viking equivalent – lasgun bolt than visiting violence upon her uncle’s kingdom and proving she is the one for the Vikings of Salstraumen to join forces with by killing several of them so that the others agree to follow her in her quest versus the Saxons who we see are planning an attack of their own on the Vikings.
With help and advice from her sister Frida our young protagonist Torhild sets about her task with relish and determination and we see how Torhild has come to her strategy for success from a short prologue at the end of the story where Torhild visits a seer to learn how to flex her Vikingness despite not being the identikit Viking warrior.
The story ends well poised for further tales of violence and trickery in volume 2.
As will be clear from the foregoing the story draws on recognised historic themes and sagas and as such it has a richness which I’m sure will be expanded on with future volumes.
The transposition of the backdrop from Dark Age Northern Europe to space age future does work really well and the energy and gusto that the characters put into their activities is as well suited to the far flung galaxies as their historical counterparts on Earth.
The world building is effectively done with recognisable historic elements being melded seamlessly with space age updates to the historic counterparts..
The way the story is told was very well delivered. The protagonist initially appeared to possibly be an antagonist as we see things via different characters’ viewpoints, a nice technique. The backdrop and motivation for the characters actions and the means they choose for effecting those actions are also well worked into the storyline so that there is no information dumping but instead we see things via effective use of flashback.
The conflict in the story is clear and strong enough to catch the reader’s attention and there are plenty of sub-plots and supporting elements in the story. There is emotional conflict and drive within the protagonist as well as the clear physical conflict that is played out but it is an action tale and as such, in true Viking style it’s the ability to wield a power ax or power sword or power hammer that is most evident.
The pacing of the story was on point and the protagonist is on a clear character development arc with plenty of conflicts to overcome as the story unfolds.
The art, both internal and cover, had a spiky, vibrant, chaotic quality to it with a limited color palette and simplicity in linework. Though I personally found some of it a bit too unclear in places its energy did match the space Viking theme well.
The dialogue was punchy and moved the story on effectively and the conclusion left things well poised for volume 2 which is due out in the summer and one to watch for on Kickstarter.
Battle Code: Ragnarok ; Blood on Ice Volume 1 is available in print or digital from the following sources
Yelly Studio Website