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    The second episode is better than the first. A wildly imaginative story with more than enough strange and eerie creatures to make your blood run cold. Lain, Sigmund, Em and Wayne join the forces of the dead, led by Hel, in a visit to Asgard that couldn't possibly go right. There are new creatures to contend with and an adventure that traverses the tree of life, the forest of the juntan, the underground land of the dverger, and a massive underground sea. This narrative was less confusing than the first, However, there is a detailed glossary for the reader to understand the many strange terms. After a slow start it quickly becomes a page-turner.
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    Helpful Back Story for Characters in Liesmith

    3.5 stars Stormbringer is the second book in Alis Franklin's Wyrd series, following the excellent Liesmith, which I purchased just so that I could read the series in order. I loved Liesmith; not only was it a great urban fantasy, based on Norse mythology (which is fresher than the ubiquitous Greco-Roman pantheon), but it rang multiple bells for those concerned about diversity in publishing: female author; one principal character who is queer and a person of color (Sigmund); another principal character whose sexual identity is fluid, to say the least (Lain); multiple secondary characters who are strong women (including two reincarnated Valkyries and a couple of dead, but still quite active, goddesses). While Stormbringer is equally diverse, it is not as engaging as Liesmith. To some degree, this is to be expected; it is difficult for an author to sustain the excitement a reader feels when encountering a new world for the first time. Stormbringer's issue is broader than that, however. Liesmith was set primarily in the real world, where the gods walk among unsuspecting humans; that Lain was on Sigmund's turf, so to speak, gave authenticity to their relationship and equal weight to both characters. In contrast, most of Stormbringer is set in the world of the gods, with numerous extended flashbacks to Loki and Sigyn's life together before their reincarnation in Lain and Sigmund. This moves the reader fully into the realm of mythology, distancing us from both the action and the characters; in essence, Sigmund's only role in Stormbringer is to serve as a vessel for Sigyn's spirit. Tellingly, Franklin includes a nine-page-long glossary of Norse names and words at the end of Stormbringer, when the reader required no such assistance with Liesmith. Given the comparative unfamiliarity of Norse mythology, I don't fault Franklin for giving us a fair amount of back story; in fact, at times I would really have appreciated a family tree, as I kept confusing Baldr and Thor. Now that she has done so, however, I hope she will return Sigmund and Lain to their central place in future volumes of the Wyrd. I received a free copy of Stormbringer through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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