Tom Holt,
Valhalla
(Orbit, 2000)

The temptation of a new Terry Pratchett novel I could resist. Not so something new from Tom Holt, the British humorist who still hasn't gotten the American exposure he deserves.

Valhalla gives us more of what Holt does best -- odd twists on gods and heroes in a modern, typically British society. In this case, the setting is the Scandinavian afterlife. But the halls of Valhalla have diversified; it's not the same "slaughter by day, carouse by night" nirvana it was in Viking days. That's cold comfort to folks like Howard, who spends each day in a war-torn English village, where every day is kill or be killed (without the benefit of nightly carousing), and Carol, who battles tradition by organizing labor among some blood-thirsty Viking warriors.

Odin, who runs the whole deal, isn't very happy with the job. Besides, he has a few grudges he wants to work out.

Valhalla turns the afterlife upside down in Holt's grand gut-busting style. Ask any bloodthirsty warlord, it beats watching paint dry.

[ by Tom Knapp ]
Rambles: 14 December 2001