The Lost Sun by Tessa GrattonIn “The Lost Sun,” the first book of “The United States of Asgard” by Tessa Gratton, Soren Bearskin is a berserker. He has an innate internal fire, a battle rage that he constantly tries to squelch with self-discipline, exercise, and meditation.

He is so afraid of this fire and his family’s past that he has made himself an outcast with almost all his classmates at Sanctus Sigurd’s Academy.

Then one day, the famous Astrid Glyn comes to school. Astrid is a beautiful and mysterious seethkona — a prophetess — who dreams of Soren. Much to his dismay, Soren and Astrid are drawn together by these dreams and by forces beyond their control.

When Baldur the Beautiful, god of the sun, goes missing, the connection between Soren and Astrid becomes all the more apparent.

Soren and Astrid begin a journey to save their god, confront their pasts and face their future.

The Strange Maid by Tessa GrattonIn book two, “The Strange Maid,” Signy Valborn, like Soren, has an internal fire born out of her family’s past.

Unlike Soren, Signy embraces her inner chaos and for doing so, is chosen by Odin Alfather to become his next Valkyrie.

Before she can be accepted in this role, however, she must solve a riddle written on the New World Tree. Signy doesn’t feel that she can solve the riddle within the confines of her Valkyrie training, so she leaves to search for answers on her own.

After years of living on the streets and not solving her riddle, Ned Unferth, a mysterious poet who only speaks the truth, appears and offers a glimmer of hope: trolls.

 

Together, Signy and Ned travel North to Canadia to study, track and kill a greater mountain troll as the solution to Signy’s riddle and her ticket into the Valkyrie sisterhood.

If only things were so simple.

Taking place before, during and after the events of “The Lost Sun,” “The Strange Maid” is both a companion and a sequel to “The Lost Sun.” Both books are narrated in first person (by Soren and Signy, respectively) and offer rich and compelling stories. Gratton has seamlessly woven traditional Norse gods and legends with modern life and technology, making her world simultaneously familiar and mysteriously “other.”

My love for this series and the world Gratton creates became easier to quantify when I realized Gratton has firmly positioned herself as an excellent transition from Rick Riordan to Neil Gaiman.

“The United States of Asgard” series has all the action and intrigue (not to mention godly influences) of a Percy Jackson novel but with intricacy and literary quality closer to Gaiman’s works — of course, “American Gods” comes to mind.

With older teen characters doing older teen things, these are books for high-school students and adults.

 

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