Post-Ragnarok, the surviving Norse Gods and mythic personalities didn’t go retire to a beachfront in Majorca. Instead many of them have found a new northern land, one also sculpted by ice and snow, but also hockey, Molson Beer, and Poutine: Canada. Chadwick Ginther’s Thunder Road Trilogy looks at how the Norse Mythic world, post-Ragnarok, interacts with our modern world, especially when Surtur, the Fire Giant, is still looking to tear everything down but good, starting with the oilfields of Alberta.
Ted Callan is an ex-oil fields worker, who has escaped a bad, possibly maddening incident in the oil fields of Alberta, and moved eastward to Winnipeg, Manitoba. While no one in the mortal world really believes who and what he saw in the oil field disaster, the mythic world, however, is well aware of the stirrings from the King of the fiery realm of Muspelheim. And the Dwarves who live near Winnipeg have a plan. And so do others…
The Thunder Road Series starts with Thunder Road. Ted gains his taste of power, and the first true sense of the stakes of the conflict in the Norse Mythic world. This is the superhero origin story, without the spandex but definitely with all the issues that will follow him through the series. We meet Ted and many of the characters that will shape the course of the series.
The series continues with Tombstone Blues. Now that he has been empowered, Ted’s presence and effect on the Norse mythic world is definitely not going to be unnoticed by others. Even as his new relationship with Tilda the Norn is put under stress, Winnipeg itself may have even more pressing problems than a Fire Giant to the far west. Hel, lord of the underworld, herself has taken note of Ted and his doings. This is, as they say, not good.
Too Far Gone, the final book in the series follows his struggles against Surtur’s attempt at Ragnarok 2.0, his now very rocky relationship with Tilda, and Ted’s dealing with something more fraught and dangerous than Hel, Surtur, or even his wife: His home and family back in Edmonton.
Ted is great, a reluctant working class hero with magical powers, He’s conflicted, he’s complicated, and comes across excellently on the page. Tilda is interesting, especially given her own journey to power and status. There’s lots of interesting mythic elements throughout the book, from power tattoo making dwarves, to where Jormungandr (the Midgard Serpent) has wound up, to the nature of Hel and the Einherjar, all the way across the series to its climactic showdown, combining together a lot of the threads, characters, artifacts, friends and adversaries from the entire series into one amazing set piece.
And then there is Loki. Ginther’s Loki is most positively and definitely not the Tom Hiddleston Loki of the Marvel universe. This Loki is much more skewed toward Chaos than Order, and very possibly not Evil (but so definitely out for number one, always). This Loki is very willing not only to change appearance, but change gender, if necessary, to get his way. I am reminded of the Star Trek TNG episode where Q tells Picard that he now realizes he should have first come to Picard in the form of a woman in order to manipulate him better. That’s the sort of being Loki is. He’s gets lots of the best lines, quotes Star Wars to Ted’s disgust, and generally is having a great time throughout the series.
One of the even better bits about Loki is a meta-bit at the end of each book, “Loki’s Guide to the Petty Gods and Monsters, and Fantastical Locales and Artifacts of Norse Mythology”. Definitely not a guide to be read before each volume, this provides a running glossary on the beings, things and places that Ted encounters in the three books. It can be very spoilery, and laced with Loki’s very pointed and unbridled opinions on everything. It’s often quite funny and self-referential.
“Black Metal: Sh!t metal according to Ted. It’s full of stories of gods and magic, hammers and rainbow bridges, and who’d want to listen to that?”
From power tattoos to climatic battles in Edmonton, the Thunder Road Trilogy was a lot of fun to read and most definitely an interesting Canadian flavor to Norse myth-infused with urban fantasy. I recommend it.