ALREADY COMES DARKNESS by T L Greylock (Book Review)
“This heart that beats for others, for the stars in the sky and the green trees in the wind. Even for all the nine realms. It is a great heart.”
And so the epic saga of Raef Skallagrim, Lord of Vannheim, comes to a close. The journey has been long and fraught with dangers and utter heartbreaking betrayal, but Raef’s intent to reclaim his hall from the grasp of his traitorous cousin and bring justice to his father’s murderer remains unwavering. With enemies closing in on all sides, and the end-times steadily breaching the horizon, he must do whatever it takes to save not only his people, but the entirety of the realm of men.
What can I say other than I am in absolute awe of this legendary tale Greylock has weaved. I’ve been enraptured since the moment I cracked open The Blood-Tainted Winter, and with each installment of The Song of the Ash Tree series, my adoration has only grown. I’ve taken my time with this one, only because I knew turning the final page would be a bittersweet moment for me, regardless of my need to witness the conclusion of Raef’s battle for mankind. And what an ending it is. It has been a nail-biting race to the finish line, and probably one of the most satisfying and remarkable conclusions to a trilogy I’ve ever had the pleasure of encountering.
At its core, this is a cautionary tale of betrayal, revenge, and the steep cost of secrets, but as it continues, the focus shifts to finding one’s true purpose through trepidation. About finding yourself worthy of or even possibly capable of altering your fate. The gift of brotherhood through bonds of blood and shield, and the importance of placing your trust and faith in others when all seems lost in darkness.
“The fate is as old as the void at the beginning of all things and I am but one drop of water waiting to drown in the sea.”
Greylock has such a beautiful way with words, boldly building a vivid world with pristine, poetic prose, memorable figurative language, and compelling and conflicted characters. Her writing style pays flawless homage to the tales of old, often causing readers to forget this is a story written just a few years ago, rather than a recollection of the fables of the old gods hundreds of years past. The use and threading of Norse mythology to create a unique story involving a fictitious protagonist, yet making it feel as though I’ve read a poem from the Poetic and Prose Eddas, is absolutely brilliant and spellbinding. Even something as trivial as marking the passing of time is done with such finesse, causing you to be completely absorbed into the world: ‘The day grew from youth to middle age as the sun slid across the sky.’ I could quote this book all day and still would be unable to express its majesty.
Of my many favorite aspects of this series, it is the characters that I hold most dear. Those we’ve come to know and love continue to astound with their profound honor, raw strength of both arm and mind, and courage in the face of sorrow and suffering. It has been a wonderful opportunity to dive into the minds of Raef, Vakre, and Siv, learning of their ambitions and fears, making these larger-than-life individuals so relatable. Newly introduced or previously and swiftly mentioned auxiliary characters are perfectly executed to add a rich depth to the story, each with such a unique voice and an enduring loyalty, whether it be to a leader or ideal. I know that more than a few will remain with me even though the back cover has been closed.
Although Already Comes Darkness is an incredible ending to an even more incredible story, I really didn’t want it to end. The perfect blend of reality and fantastical elements has violently drawn me in and left me wanting more. Norse-inspired fantasy has always held a special place in my heart, but everything I’ve read to this point plainly pales in comparison to the masterpiece that is The Song of the Ash Tree. This has easily become one of my favorite series of all time and I cannot wait to see what T L Greylock has in store for us in the future. If you haven’t yet started this series, go pick it up…right now.
“Men and women are beautiful in their weakness, Raef, beautiful in their faults and their failings. And because of this, because their lives are fleeting, they are worth saving.”