June 18, 2003

Thor's Hammer by Will Shetterly

coverI keep a close eye out for new books by a short list of writers of whom Mr. Shetterly is one, and yet I didn't know this one existed until he mentioned it in passing on his blog and sent me scrambling to google and then to the library. Thor's Hammer is the fourth volume in a series entitled Voyage of the Basset in which a ship crewed by dwarves and gremlins pick up the protagonists of the book and take them to a land of myth where stuff happens and then they go home. At least I assume that's the pattern for all the books since it's the pattern of this one.

The crew of the Basset is seeking a hero to go to Asgard and help avert the war to end time. What they find (in San Francisco of 1876) are three young boys, one Irish, one Black, one Chinese, and a dog. The crew aren't sure which one of them is their hero so they take them all. The boys are in the midst of a fight stemming from their ignorance of each other's culture when they are shanghaied and in the course of the book they become friends.

I liked it. It was a fun read. The first half of the book is all character building and getting the boys into position to be picked up by the Basset, and that was my favorite part of the book. Shetterly does a great job of showing some of the hazards of life for kids at that time in history, and I would have happily read a whole book just concentrating on these characters in their real lives with their real problems. In contrast, the myth section of the book feels over-plotted, almost like a game where various tasks are performed punctuated by expository lumps about the Norse gods' history, and culminating in the inevitable tidy resolution. The last chapter is a mere three pages long and, in just a few sentences, brings the boys back to San Francisco and resolves all the problems they were facing when they left. A little rushed.

I liked his Thor too. He reminded me very much of the Thor in Gaiman's Sandman books, though I seem to recall Gaiman's having a crueler edge than Shetterly's.

Posted by jeffy at June 18, 2003 06:56 PM
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