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The Rebels of Vanaheim

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Member Reviews

4.5 stars
Wow once again another stunning story from Aconyte publishing.  This excellent Marvel novel was packed full of action, atmosphere and tension creating a page turning book. The author did an amazing job in writing this edge of your seat read, that I just couldn't put down.  The characters were brilliant,  we really got to know them and were willing them to succeed.  But will they that is for you the reader to find out. The story-line was epic, with some brilliant twists and turns and a fantastic air of mystery.  I loved every single minute of this book. It was so close to full marks. I especially loved the section where we get to meet the mining dwarfs and how they find the answers to solve the mystery.  I just can't wait to read more books by this author and publishers as they never seem to disappoint me. Always creating the most amazing books to read.
I can't thank both the author and publishing team enough for creating such an epic fantasy action story that keeps you on the edge of your seat.
The above review has already been placed on goodreads, waterstones, Google books, Barnes&noble, kobo, amazon UK and my blog
Under the name ladyreading365 or lady Reading365 or ladyc reading
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I didn't realize what the book was about before I picked it up. It's about zombies and mythology. I am a fan of neither. This book is heavy on the descriptions. The writing is immersive. The suspense is almost immediate. I couldn't finish it though.
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Very interesting read for anyone that likes mythology or fantasy books, this had  the old gods, undead, creatures; actually a mythological paranormal creature feature!  I thought pacing was good, didn’t drag on where I was speed reading to get through but didn’t rush things to leave me confused either. Storyline was fresh but not so out of line that characters were…… out of character.  Again very good read and look forward to future works.
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NetGalley ARC Educator 550974

Norse mythology is intriguing and somewhat dark. This graphic novel met all of my expectations and more. The story isn't focused on Thor nor Loki, this is Heimdall's time to shine and an introduction into the Valkyrie. I hope this becomes a series on Disney Plus.
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A Legends of Asgard novel

I received an advance reader copy of this book from Aconyte Books via Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

When Heimdall and Uschi the Valkyrie return to their home realm of Vanaheim, they discover that it is under attack by draugr, zombie-like creatures that are manifesting unusual powers. In the course of battling against the invaders, the pair of warriors discover something even more sinister at work trying to sow the seeds of civil war between the realms of Vanir and Asgard.

At this point, Heimdall is still just a captain of warriors and not the Norse god he eventually becomes. In this book readers see him go a long way on his journey there. Those who may have read Rick Riordan’s Magnus Chase series will recognize the god Frey and his magical Sword of Destiny.  I gave The Rebels of Vanaheim five stars. While the pacing is slow at times, it provides a ton of battle action while also expanding the Asgardian world even more.
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The Rebels of Vanaheim is the latest Marvel Legends of Asgard novel, and I am incredibly excited to get a chance to read it. I love the Asgardians and thus will happily read any story Marvel is willing to give me.

The dead never really stays dead in the Marvel universe. That is how it frequently feels, at any rate. Especially now, as the dead find their way back into other realms. Odin has assigned Heimdall and the Valkyrie to get to the core of this problem. Ideally, while dealing with the horde of zombies, that is.

To do so, the two must travel to Vanaheim. Yet things are not as they expected. This is surprising, given the knowledge and history of our two heroes. There shouldn't be any surprises in store for them...and yet...

Marvel fans unite! The latest Marvel Legends of Asgard novel is here, and I am living for it! The Rebels of Vanaheim brings forth two of my favorite Asgardians, Heimdall, and the Valkyrie. Seriously, I don't think they could have picked a better pair for this story or in general.

Okay, the idea of seeing these two battle zombies together is pretty appealing, I'm not going to lie. So I'm probably a little bit biased when I say that I enjoyed this book. It is full of action, a bit of chaos, and a lot of zombies. In short, it's the perfect dead/undead Marvel novel.

The Rebels of Vanaheim is made all the better by giving readers a chance to actually get to know our heroes. There's Heimdall, who I will never complain about learning more of. And then there's the Valkyrie, aka Ushi. In this novel, she's the Valkyrie Captain, and I absolutely adore her. It was refreshing to take a moment and see some character development before throwing them back into the fray.

Now that I'm done reading The Rebels of Vanaheim, I can't help but find myself hoping that we'll see another novel focused on this pair once again. I know that the odds aren't great – there are so many Marvel heroes, and they all deserve a moment in the spotlight, but I can't help but hang onto that hope.
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Aconyte Books have been producing some wonderful Marvel novels, featuring characters from across the comics universe. and whilst these books have been nothing less than amazing some of the best have easily been the Marvel Legends of Asgard line, which are set within the nine realms and follow characters from the Thor series. What makes these books so good is that they're set long before the comics, and focus on the early days of the gods and heroes that we know, allowing the authors to explore them in ways we don't often get.

The first book in this series was The Head of Mimir, which followed Heimdall and his sister Sif as they travelled into Frost Giant territory to save Asgard; and revealed how Heimdall received his unique powers of perception. Now we get to catch up with Heimdall once again as Richard Lee Byers continues to chart his journey from solider to god of Asgard.

The story begins with Heimdall and his friend, the valkyrie Uschi, being granted leave from Asgard and returning to their home realm of Vanaheim to visit family and relax for a bit. Upon arriving at Heimdall's family home, however, they're surprised to find a strange atmosphere hanging over the land. They soon learn that this is due to a series of attacks from darugr, fierce, deadly undead creatures that have a host of strange powers. Volunteering their help, the two young warriors help to quell the next draugr attack; thinking that the threat has been defeated.

When Uschi travels to her own parents home, meeting a frosty reception from her father thanks to old grudges, she begins to suspect that there may be more going on in Vanaheim than first appears, especially when the god Frey arrives offering swords capable of killing the undead. Meanwhile, Heimdall is shocked to discover that the draugr threat hasn't been stopped, and must help his people fight back against creatures much stronger and more monstrous than he ever thought possible. With the undead threatening everyone in Vanaheim, will Heimdall and Uschi be able to investigate into the bigger mystery at play before it's too late to save everyone?

The books in the Marvel Legends of Asgard series have felt like big, fantasy stories, tales from myth and legend having come to life. And whilst that's definitely true with The Rebels of Vanaheim this book is something more too. This is a horror story. The draugr in this book are absolutely terrifying. Before this, my main experience with these creatures was a handful of myths that I'd read over the years, and as creatures that I have killed in their thousands in Skyrim, and whilst some of those myths and stories were creepy I'd never really felt afraid of these things. That definitely changed reading this book.

The draugr aren't just zombies, there's nothing average about the creatures that Byers has thrown at our heroes. These things have powers and abilities that make them incredibly deadly; as well as adding to the horror of never knowing where they are our where they could attack from. For starters, they're hard to kill, and even warriors like Heimdall seem to have great difficulty putting these things down. Some of them even begin missing limbs or their head, and their wounds quickly close up after you attack them. If that wasn't scary enough, their victims can become infected, becoming more of the creatures. But we're not just talking about zombie bites, just having a draugr looking at you with their horrific gaze can infect you, slowly changing you into one of them. Add on to this their abilities to move through water, shape-shift into other creatures or people, and their ability to move through walls and appear whenever they want, they might be some of the most frightening monsters I've seen employed in this series yet.

The scenes where our heroes and the warriors of Vanaheim are stalking through dark hallways, searching for the creatures that are making their way from room to room attacking people are incredibly tense. The moments where they're waiting for an attack to come, knowing that their weapons can do little to hurt these things are some that have definitely stuck with me, and make for a frightening read at times. Horror rarely gets used in the superhero genre, at least outside of characters that are heavily connected with horror such as Blade or Ghost Rider, so seeing scary moments like this in a setting where we're not used to seeing them make them hit so much harder. 

But the book isn't all about draugr and horror, as there's a lot more going on than is first revealed. There are things that happen, especially during the second half of the book, that really test Heimdall and Uschi in a way completely different than just fighting monsters. The book has a lot of character development for the two of them, and tests their connections to their families and their oaths to Asgard, forcing them to have to question what matters most to them. Thanks to the family connections, of Heimdall and Uschi literally having to go home and interact with their parents, this is one of the books in the series that has the most personal stakes too.

There's a lot I'd love to be able to talk about from this book, but thanks to a central mystery filled with twists and turns and startling revelations I'm not sure I really can say much without giving too much away. What I will say is that this was easily the best entry in the series so far. It was packed with action, horror, character focus, and had a central plot that kept me invested throughout. I got the sense from the end that there's still a lot more room for Richard Lee Byers to tell stories about Heimdall in the future and continue his journey to becoming the god we know him as; and I really hope that that's the case, as I can't wait to see what the character gets to do next.
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I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

In short: I really loved The Rebels of Vanaheim.

It’s high-suspense and action-packed, which I expected from Marvel. But what surprised me was the in-depth characterization. To me, this lifted the book from being enjoyable to being one of my favorite books this year.

Heimdall and his friend, Valkyrie Ushi, set out to Vanaheim to visit their families—Heimdall being excited to see his parents, while Ushi is much more reluctant to reconnect. However, they soon find themselves in the middle of an infestation of draugr—the living dead. In addition, Heimdall can feel the anti-Asgardian sentiment, along with a growing rebellion. To preserve the peace of the Realm Eternal, Heimdall and Ushi need to investigate both the infestation and the conspiracy, even if it pits them against their own kin.


As I said, it’s fast-paced, keeping you on your toes with some epic fighting almost from the very start. And it has a lot of action sequences throughout the book. Even though a lot of them involved fighting the draugr, they were still all different, with higher stakes each time.

That said, I can’t say the turns the story took were incredibly surprising. Of course, I didn’t anticipate exactly how the story would unfold, but from the moment some parts of the mystery was revealed, it became more or less clear how the story would end.

This didn’t really matter to me, though. The execution of the story was still great, and it read like a solid epic fantasy.

Also, I felt that adding the mystery to the story was a good choice. That way, the story wasn’t just great fighting and battles with the undead, but there were also clues and hints the reader could follow to find out what was going on.

As a fan of mystery myself, I enjoyed figuring out the riddle alongside the characters.


Speaking of which, I think the characterization in Rebels of Vanaheim was executed wonderfully.

Now, Heimdall is one of my favorite Marvel characters, so I might’ve been a bit biased on that account.

Still, I loved learning more about Heimdall, where he grew up, and what he did before he became the sentry at the rainbow bridge thingy. And the dynamic between him and Ushi was wonderful.

Heimdall, being the more compassionate and bookish one, and Ushi being the more pragmatic and level-headed of the two. I felt the story really gained a deeper level with the addition of the different familial backgrounds and relationships the two had with their parents.


In one word: amazing. It had great detail without being too much. Byers created a flourishing world with Vanaheim, disturbing monsters with the draugr, and a vast universe with his depiction of Ygdrassil and the other planets.


Before this book review of Rebels of Vanaheim becomes too long: it’s a wonderful read if you love some great action, a compelling mystery, some incredible characters, and amazing worldbuilding.

[And now for some additional disclaimers because it’s Marvel.]

#Marvel #MarvelEnt #Aconytebooks #review

About Marvel Entertainment Marvel Entertainment, LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company, is one of the world’s most prominent character-based entertainment companies, built on a proven library of more than 8,000 characters featured in a variety of media for over eighty years. Marvel utilizes its character franchises in entertainment, licensing, publishing, games, and digital media. For more information visit © 2020 MARVEL
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Heimdall is a character I love from the MCU, so I was excited to read this novel centering around him. Of course this isn’t the MCU, but it’s still full of familiar character and new ones as well. 

This book follows Heimdall and his friend Uschi, a Valkyrie, as they work to figure out the plot against Asgard. We get to see flying horses, dwarves, and magic. 

It’s a fun story set in a Marvel place that’s rich with Lore and steeped in the real life mythology. Definitely a good read for anyone who is a fan of either Marvel or Norse Mythology.
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This was a really fun book. The twist! I did not see it coming. I really liked this outlook on Asgard and the inner-workings of it all and the world-building was super fun too. Definitely recommend for fans of Marvel and Norse mythology. As an avid fan of both Marvel and Norse mythology, this was an incredibly fun book to read as a sort of light adventure read. The character building for Heimdall is brilliant and the world-building, as I mentioned before, takes on from the Marvel Asgard and of course, the original Norse Asgard.
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Richard Lee Byers’ second outing in Aconytes Marvel universe expertly crafts fantasy and horro to tell a tale of shape shifting zombies, dwarfs and mystic swords.

In The Rebels of Vanaheim, Byers tells the story of a younger Heimdell before he is gaurdian of the Bifrost. In the book he is sent by Odin, the All father, with his companion the Valkyrie Uschi to investigate an infestation of Draugr (the living dead) in his home of Vanaheim. On the way to investigate he decides to pop home and visit the folks, and also convinces Uschi she needs to do the same and drop in on dear old Mum and Dad, although she can think of nothing worse than visiting the family who thinks that she has dishonoured them. 

However, things are not as they seem. Heimdell receives a reception that he wasn’t expecting as he has to battle the living dead who change with every encounter. Not only that, something is a little amiss with mum and dad. 

On the other hand, when Uschi visits home, she gets the reception that she expects which is colder than the land of the frost giants. However, when her father receives a visit from Frey, the God of the Harvest, her hackles are raised and she feels that there is something amiss, especially when he turns up at Heimdell’s house when she goes to see him.

This is the second outing for Heimdell in the Marvel universe, and my introduction to Richard Lee Byers’ writing. I did not know when I picked this up that this was a follow on from The Head of Mimir, although, whilst it references the first book can easily be picked up as a stand-alone. 

I have to say that I was impressed by this book. Richard Lee Byers successfully mixes elements of horror, fantasy, action and mystery to write a book that keeps you gripped to the very end. Furthermore he integrates Norse Mythology with the Marvel Universe. To be honest, this Norse fantasy successfully expands the Marvel version of Asgard to give it an expansive feel. 

The plot itself interweaves several strands that keeps you gripped and guessing what is going to happen next, with one of the most interesting things is how he develops the Draugr, whilst incorporating elements of mythology. Initially, the Draugr are pretty senseless, however, as the infestation develops, so does the Draugr themselves from mindless beasts to shapeshifting horrors.

There is plenty of action throughout the book, and the mystery element of the book keeps you turning the pages to find out what exactly is going on.  

Whilst I have not read any of Richard Lee Byers’ books previously, upon investigation it seems that he has a good pedigree for writing within a franchise elements with stories written in the Forgotten Realms, Pathfinder & Magic:The Gathering amongst others. In fact, he has 161 entries listed on Goodreads, so I reckon that is a pretty vast experience of writing fantasy and I will definitely be investigating more of his books on the strength of this.
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Review: The Revels of Vanaheim A Marvel Legends of Asgard Novel by Richard Lee Byers
I want to start by saying thank you to Netgalley and the wonderful folks at Aconyte for giving me access to this E-ARC and to Richard Lee Byers for creating another fantastic Legends of Asgard novel focusing on Heimdall! The Legend of Vanaheim is a sequel to Byers equally brilliant The Head of Mimir which was published in 2020 and the second Aconyte title I read! A master of weaving Marvel canon with Norse mythology and a healthy dose of fantasy and topped off with a touch of science fiction Byers creates a gripping, fast-paced and action-packed tale.
As with all my E-Arc reviews I will avoid major spoilers. We see Heimdall return once more to the battlefield but not everything is straightforward. The Dead have returned. In his wisdom Odin, All-Father of Asgard, sends Heimdall and the Valkyrie Uschi to eliminate the mysterious draugr (the living dead) infestation in Vanaheim. The Draugr are not the only thing plaguing Heimdall’s homeworld as the duo quickly discover. Anti-Asgardian Sentiment is rife, and the fact that the all-knowing All-Father sends just two warriors, no matter their skill and feats, from the realm of Asgard only adds a nearly deadly fuel to the flame. It falls to Heimdall and Uschi to investigate not only the undead but this growing conspiracy even if it risks pitting them against their own kin to preserve peace in the Realm Eternal.
What can I say, Byers hits it out of the park with this second book in the Legends of Asgard series featuring Heimdall. I will confess I have become a bit obsessed with Aconyte’s growing line up. It ticks all my boxes of gripping stories, geeky goodness and often highlighting and giving voice to characters from the tie in universes that sometimes get overlooked. Couple this with their fantastic authors and the wonderful, genuine and natural inclusivity you find within the pages it’s hard NOT to like them. If you said I am a bit of a fangirl, you would be absolutely right! All that in mind I have to confess that Norse Mythology and literature as well as the Asgardian Tales of Marvel are one of my biggest passions so much so the basis of a lot of my university work featured this if not focusing on Marlowe and Shakespeare! Since seeing the old cartoons of The Mighty Thor on the weekends to being read and later reading The Hobbit and The Lord of The Rings things with touches or hints to the rich mythos have always been close to my heart. When I saw The Head of Mimir I knew I had to give it a read when the baddy turned out to be, in part at least, my all time favourite villainess in Marvel I knew I found something fantastic.
When I learned Byers was coming back to the world of Asgard I knew it would be good, I just wasn’t aware how good. The storytelling is brilliant, the narrative is interwoven with several threads that could easily all have been a singular plot on their own but each is weaved so expertly and subtly together that you find yourself learning the connections with the characters. You never can truly guess what is going on, who is bad and who isn’t and it keeps you hooked. Due to personal reasons I had to finish this book in three separate sittings with a bit of a gap between each one. I was, however, always thinking to myself, I wonder what will happen next – A sign of a truly good book. I was able to pick up and remember where I left off because the story had me hooked and stuck with me. I am actually doing a sneaky re-read of both The Head of Mimir and then this title now that things have settled down.
On top of the wonderful plot the actual writing is fabulous, a wonderful mixture of vivid and slightly ghastly descriptions of Draugr paired with epic fight scenes on top. To say I was slightly in awe of Byres skill is a true understatement. The characterization as well is fantastic – each character comes to life in their own way. Their mixture of positive and negative traits displayed for all to see, something highly appreciated when dealing with ‘Gods’ and characters of myth. The characters aren’t one dimensional, it’s not clear cut if this character is evil, this character is good. Byers manages to show that even these god-like beings have a plethora of flaws. Flaws that are not always overcome but we see the characters develop and work on them including factors that people face in everyday life such as rifts in family. At the end of that, other than the main villain, even characters I disliked, purely on their personality and actions but definitely not the writing, I came to like or at least respect. Another sign of a good author.
One other thing I adore and feel the need to mention is the framing of the tale. Without too many spoilers both The Head of Mimir and The Rebels of Vanaheim start with another warrior of Asgard using the tale to either help pass time or encourage some sort of growth, often in the younger generation. While it may seem a little detail I found this nod to the old oral tradition and the idea of tales of battles and feats being told or passed down generations such a fantastic touch. It always makes me smile and frames the actual story so well. It also, if you are a bit of a nerd like me, makes you feel like you have been listening as well. A nice little bonus.
I honestly have to say I am in love with this title. Once I finish my re-read of The Head of Mimir I’m going to finally get around to review that one as well. Bryers has once again delved into the source materials and come out with something that is truly spectacular. A story about facing your fears, finding yourself including your weaknesses and patching up things that may not always be as broken as they seem. On top of this we have epic fights, vivid world building and a gripping story. A complete must read for a fan of Marvel’s Asgardians, Norse Mythology or just a good Fantasy story with a sprinkling of Sci-fi. Basically, just read it! You will not be disappointed!
The ebook of this title will be available worldwide on December the 7th 2021 with the US paperback following the 21st December 2021. For the UK the revised release date is the 17th February 2022 but it most definitely will be worth the wait and I already have it on preorder! So don’t delay and do the same. Some of the places you can get your hands the ebook include Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo and Indigo. For the paperbacks there is Amazon (including but not limited to US, Canada, Germany, Italy and the UK), as well as Barnes and Nobel, Indiebound, Waterstones, Blackwells and the Book Depository among others.

Aconyte Books are the novel division of Asmodee Entertainment. Asmodee Entertainment is based in an amazing building in Nottingham, England. The Star Brewery opened in 1852, producing beer for Shipstones until 1991.
Richard Lee Byers is the author of fifty horror and fantasy novels including This Sword for Higher, Marvel Legends of Asgard and Forgotten Realms among others. He also has written many short stories, scripted a graphic novel and contributed content on tabletop and electronic games. A resident of the Tampa Bay area, he’s an RPG enthusiast and a frequent program participant at Florida conventions, Dragon Con and Gen Con.
About Marvel Entertainment
Marvel Entertainment, LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company, is one of the world’s most prominent character-based entertainment companies, built on a proven library of more than 8,000 characters featured in a variety of media for over eighty years. Marvel utilizes its character franchises in entertainment, licensing, publishing, games, and digital media.
For more information visit © 2021 MARVEL
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#Marvel #MarvelEnt #Aconytebooks #review

I cannot get enough of these "Legends of Asgard" books! As I've come to expect from this series, "The Rebels of Vanaheim" is written brilliantly, has all the "Asgard atmosphere" that I've started to crave, has an exceptional plot, and (obviously!) superb characters. If you're looking to get "lost" in a book, then these are the books you need - and why not start with this one?  
My thanks to the author, publisher, and NetGalley. This review was written voluntarily and is entirely my own, unbiased, opinion.

About Marvel Entertainment

Marvel Entertainment, LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company, is one of the world’s most prominent character-based entertainment companies, built on a proven library of more than 8,000 characters featured in a variety of media for over eighty years. Marvel utilizes its character franchises in entertainment, licensing, publishing, games, and digital media.

For more information visit marvel[dot]com. © 2021 MARVEL
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Heimdall versus shape-shifting zombies... Of course I wanted to read this!!! The characters switch between Heimdall and Uschi (a pretty awesome Valkyrie Captain) as they try to find out how to stop the zombie curse, have family dillemas and have to prevent a war between Frey and Odin. You do not need any prior Marvel knowledge if you want to pick this one up. Actually, if you had told me this was part of Norse mythology I would have easily believed you. And the writing style feels that sense of myth as well... which is both a good thing and a bad. It is perfect for the story and really sets the atmosphere, but for me it isn't the easiest to get sucked in to. The characters also felt a bit underdeveloped because of it. The battle scenes in this were superb, but everything in between (especially the dialogue) just lacked a bit of elegance. Still a very enjoyable read.
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Thanks to the publisher, Aconyte Books vía Netgalley for providing this ebook in exchange for an honest review !!

The Rebels of Vanaheim is an epic adventure in the ancient lands of the Vanir.
This story takes Heimdall on an adventure in his homeworld, solving the mysteries of a creepy curse that beings the dead back, a batch of magical swords that make their weilders have strange dreams and the possibily of a second war between the Vanir and the Aesir. With the company of his best friend Uschi, a valkyrie with family and personal issues of her own, they fight zombie like creatures, conspiracies against their life and a giant evil from another World.
I personally found it very interesting, a little heavy sometimes, but no doubt very action packed and with all the cool norse mythology elements over all.
A very cool origin story for Heimdall and full of magic.
Highly recommended for Marvel and Norse Mythology fans !

About Marvel Entertainment

Marvel Entertainment, LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company, is one of the world’s most prominent character-based entertainment companies, built on a proven library of more than 8,000 characters featured in a variety of media for over eighty years. Marvel utilizes its character franchises in entertainment, licensing, publishing, games, and digital media.

For more information visit © 2020 MARVEL

#Marvel #MarvelEnt #Aconytebooks #review
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The dead have returned.

Odin, All-Father of Asgard, dispatches the heroic warrior Heimdall and the Valkyrie Uschi to eliminate a mysterious infestation of draugr – the living dead – in the proud realm of Vanaheim. Yet his home is not as Heimdall remembers it. Anti- Asgardian sentiment is rife, and the arrival of just two warriors from Asgard to deal with the draugr threat only incenses its people further. With rebellion growing in Vanaheim, Heimdall must investigate this conspiracy and the undead, even if it pits him against his own kin, to preserve the peace of the Realm Eternal.

In The Rebels of Vanaheim, author Richard Lee Byers brings his vast experience in horror and fantasy to the Marvel Legens of Asgard series by Aconyte books. He mixes those elements very well and ties it all into the Norse mythology that Stan Lee first developed for the classic Thor comics. I was very pleased to be able to read an advance copy of this novel which will be published in December of 2021.

The inclusion of draguar, dwarves and named swords of power makes for a classic fantasy tale filled with adventure and high-stakes. Byers shines in this regard, and what he presented here makes me interested in seeking out more of his work. Another high point of the book, for me, was the framing sequence that allows for this story from Heimdall's past to be told. I would really like to see Byers give us more of this as it was told with an interesting dynamic and a touch of humor.

About Marvel Entertainment

Marvel Entertainment, LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company, is one of the world’s most prominent character-based entertainment companies, built on a proven library of more than 8,000 characters featured in a variety of media for over eighty years. Marvel utilizes its character franchises in entertainment, licensing, publishing, games, and digital media.

For more information visit © 2020 MARVEL
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When Heimdall and his companion, the Valkyrie Captain Uschi, return to his homeland of Vanaheim, they are shocked to find it in the grip of an infestation of draugr - hideous, undead creatures. But not everyone is welcoming of their presence or offers of help, making Heimdall’s task even harder, and he soon finds himself at odds with his own people. However, the threat of the draugr becomes even greater than Heimdall could have imagined. And are the draugr even the real enemy? 
“The Rebels of Vanaheim” by Richard Lee Byers is the fourth novel in the “Marvel: Legends of Asgard” series and follows on from the author’s previous novel “The Head of Mimir”. Just as in that book, the story is set in a time long before Heimdall became the guardian of the Bifrost, and once again the story is related in flashback by a member of the Warriors Three, in this case Hogun, reluctantly taking on the role of babysitter and telling the tale to a young girl. 
The descriptions of the draugr are deliciously gory and squirm-inducing, and their power is vividly brought to life by Byers. The story isn’t all relentless action and gore, although there is plenty of that and it is visceral and exciting, but there is also intrigue and mystery as Heimdall and Uschi discover that they aren’t being told absolutely everything about what is going on. When they discover the truth, they realise the threat goes far beyond mere draugr. 
Heimdall and Uschi have a solid relationship based on friendship and mutual respect and as lead characters the reader couldn’t ask for more. The supporting cast of characters is diverse, from gods to dwarves, and the main players feel well-rounded and interesting with realistic motivation. 
Following on from Byers’ earlier book in the series, the story mentions previous events and they have a bearing on the narrative, specifically regarding Heimdall’s abilities, but the book is still readable as a standalone novel. And readable it certainly is - pacy and breathtaking at times and thought-provoking at others. It has well-rounded characters and vivid scene-setting, with plenty of sorcery and magical weapons to satisfy fans, and a nail-biting climax. Richard Byers writes in dense, fluid language which demands close attention but which never bores, and it is always a joy to escape into the world that he has created. “The Rebels of Vanaheim” is a worthy follow-up to “The Head of Mimir“ and I can’t wait for the next one!
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‘The Rebels of Vanaheim’ is the latest entry in Marvel’s ongoing ‘Legends of Asgard’ series. Richard Lee Byers takes the reins in his second outing, having written the first instalment, ‘The Head of Mimir’, before stepping aside for C.L. Werner’s sequel, ‘The Sword of Surtur’. Byers was a superb choice to introduce the series, his previous work on the ‘Forgotten Realms Series’ standing him in good stead to write equally exciting tales under Marvel’s banner. Our story follows the hero Heimdall and his close friend, the Valkyrie Uschi, on what they intended to be a quick trip home to Vanaheim to see their folks. Alas, when the dead walk and their families seem curiously preoccupied with whispered secrets, Heimdall and Uschi find themselves caught up in the seed of a rebellion nobody knew was coming. However, a series of prophetic dreams and the appearance of ominous, rune-laden swords suggests that there may be more to the story than anyone could have imagined…

Media franchise novelisations can be a bit hit and miss. For instance, some knock it out of the park, like Eric S. Nylund’s astounding take on the Halo series in ‘The Fall of Reach’, whilst others are just plain insulting. Thankfully, ‘The Rebels of Vanaheim’ is an absolute highlight, working just as well on its own as it does with the Marvel Universe at its back. It’s immediately clear that Byers is an excellent writer, striking a fine balance between humanising his characters and packing scenes with the drama and action we expect from the comics and movies. Heimdall and Uschi are both well realised and therefore rather endearing, though Heimdall’s tendency to rely on his own thoughts and disregard his companion’s advice is clearly a point of contention for Uschi. While she’s determined to uncover the truth of what’s happening in Vanaheim, she’s all too often placated and ignored by Heimdall, who frustrates in his insistence on single-mindedly pursuing surface-level leads and disregarding underlying oddities we see become central to the narrative. This becomes ever more apparent as the story progresses as an underlying tension between the two, before Byers rewards readers in the final third as Heimdall realises he must acknowledge his flaws and change. It’s small snippets of character growth like this that really lend gravity to the story, and Byers’ world-building is an immaculately dressed stage on which he can play out these more thoughtful scenes. With this in mind, Byers leans much more heavily into Fantasy and Mythology than some of the Sci-Fi found in other corners of the Marvel Universe, and as a result his depictions of Vanaheim and Nidavellir are gorgeous, both rich with detail and teeming with life. In addition, Byers maintains a tight pace that keeps his writing snappy and his story moving, which is especially impressive given the breadth of content he covers.

That’s not to say that ‘The Rebels of Vanaheim’ is entirely flawless, however. Although I largely enjoyed the fluidity and cadence of Byers’ prose, I found his sentences ran on a little too long occasionally, which made certain paragraphs less comprehensible than I’m sure he intended. Some of the language he uses is a little unusual, too, with a slant towards the over-complicated that has much the same result as his run-on sentences. Regardless, these issues crop up infrequently enough as not to pose too much of an issue. My primary issue was Byers’ choice to frame his narrative as a story within a story, namely the story of an adult telling the tale to a child, long after the events supposedly occurred. We only briefly see these characters at the beginning and end of the novel, and I couldn’t help but feel that the story concluded nicely without the prologue, which felt saccharine sweet and fairytale-like when it started harping on about lessons learned. These chapters are vastly different in tone to everything else on offer and feel rather jarring, to the degree that I’m still not entirely sure what their purpose was. That being said, they have no impact at all on the meat of the novel and you can safely ignore them, making them only trivially detrimental to the book.

In conclusion, ‘The Rebels of Vanaheim’ is a fantastic literary take on Marvel’s Asgard, and further, it’s an excellent novel on its own. Byers’ experience in fantasy really shows here, his structure holding everything together and allowing him to show off a little with some well-earned sentiment, a well-realised world and a story that twists and turns without feeling overly cliché or too improbable to invest in. I strongly recommend you give this a look if you’re already a Marvel fan of Marvel, but I’d also suggest that more general Fantasy fans take a chance on it - it just might surprise you.

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