Summer Book Club Review: Fall of Gods: She is Gone

Welcome to VGBlogger’s Summer Book Club! All summer long, we will be providing weekly book reviews across a wide range of geek favorite categories, including art, comics/graphic novels, fantasy, gaming, and sci-fi. So whether you’re heading out for a road trip, going on vacation, lounging beach/poolside on a nice sunny day, relaxing inside away from the summer heat, or simply searching for a good read to fill your free time, follow our Summer Book Club for our top picks of what you should be reading during these hot summertime doldrums.

FallofGods

Successfully funded through Kickstarter late last year, Fall of Gods is an exciting new book concept from MOOD Visuals, a Denmark-based creative studio that helps clients across various mediums of entertainment design the art direction for a project, from conception through production and even promotional marketing art. Rather than designing a world or building a brand for a client, MOOD co-founder Rasmus Berggreen puts his own original idea on full display in Fall of Gods, tag-teaming with Michael Vogt, writer for Hitman: Absolution as well as the upcoming Hitman installment, to present a universe of Norse mythology from an authentic Scandinavian point of view.

She is Gone, the first volume in what is planned to be an ongoing Fall of Gods mini-series, tells the revenge story of a nameless warrior who returns home from out on a hunt one day to find that his wife, Freyja, has been kidnapped. Thus, he sets out to track down the unknown assailants and rescue his great love, confronting old foes, mythological beasts, a world seething with racial strife, and the resurfacing of his own demons along the way.

Like a certain ash-white video game star fueled by ungovernable anger, this warrior, plagued by a dark past and an inner “Rage” that has built up a legend of him being some kind of a feral bear-man possessed by a wild spirit, is more of an antihero than the conventional root-for-him good guy. In fact, Berggreen’s vision of Norse mythology is morally ambiguous across the board, touching on themes of imperialism, racism, war, love, family conflict, and personal loss with more nuance than a clear cut good and evil world view. The Fall of Gods universe is dark and gritty and violent, yet also complex and beautiful in its own way.

Fall of Gods‘ compelling Norse tale is paired with a unique format that can only be described as a combination of a novel, graphic novel, and an art book. Or I guess you can think of it along the lines of a children’s storybook made more sophisticated for mature readers. The story unfolds like scenes from a movie distilled into a cinematographer’s picture book, with the narrative text printed on the left page and an illustration on the right page. Epically gorgeous though it may be, the artwork isn’t just for show. Each piece of art directly complements what is written on the opposite page, which allows you to visualize a snapshot of the world and let your imagination fill out the rest of the scene in your mind.

Of course, once you’ve finished reading the story, no one could blame you for periodically flipping back through just to drink in the visual splendor Fall of Gods packs into its 116 pages. The talent and creative vision of Berggreen and his team of MOOD artists shine through with every turn of the page, each scene evoking a different emotional reaction. The closing chapters even amount to a mini-art book, including a “Creating the Universe” outro with creator commentary, as well as 10 pages of nothing but pure concept art.

For the opening act of a universe that will continue to expand, She is Gone does a wonderful job of world building and establishing the protagonist’s motivations, setting the stage for events to come. Hell, the world is so rich in detail and history, I’d love to see it broaden into a brand for movie or video game adaptation. Unfortunately, the book does close on a “To Be Continued…” note just when it feels like things are really beginning to pick up steam, but many of the early plot threads do get tied off so at least the story concludes without feeling like it’s ending on a sudden cliffhanger. It’ll leave you satisfied yet still wishing there was a bit more meat on its bones.

Fall of Gods: She is Gone is currently available as an eBook as well as in a physical hardcover format. The hardcover book will set you back a pretty penny–it’s $45 plus a whopping $20 just for shipping (hey, it’s coming your way straight outta Copenhagen, so what are you going to do?)–but you definitely get what you pay for in terms of the art and print quality. Going the eBook route is a far more affordable alternative at around $10, though I don’t have an eBook reader to offer any firsthand impressions about the digital version. The Google Play store does have some sample pages to read for free if you’d like to try before you buy. I’ve also provided some photos from my own hardcover copy in the gallery below.

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Disclosure: A copy of Fall of Gods: She is Gone was sent to VGBlogger.com for review by MOOD Visuals.

About the Author

Matt Litten is the full-time editor and owner of VGBlogger.com. He is responsible for maintaining the day to day operation of the site, editing all staff content before it is published, and contributing regular news, reviews, previews and other articles. Matt landed his first gig in the video game review business writing for the now-defunct website BonusStage.com. After the sad and untimely close of BonusStage, the former staff went on to found VGBlogger.com. After a short stint as US Site Manager for AceGamez, Matt assumed full ownership over VGBlogger, and to this day he is dedicated to making it one of the top video game blogs in all the blogosphere. Matt is a fair-minded reviewer and lover of games of all platforms and types, big or small, hyped or niche, big-budget or indie. But that doesn't mean he will let poor games slide without a good thrashing when necessary!