The Beginning or the End
AKA Before or After Ragnarok
This is where I’m going to step on a box, with a megaphone and say something really important.
The Legend of Ragnarok, NOT THE MARVEL VERSION, does involve the fall of Asgard BUT it is more of a total destruction of all the nine worlds. Ragnarok means The End of All Things, every god (minus a few exceptions) dies, albeit very heroically in one mega battle. A whole new world of existence is born (though it is only the one and not 9 as before) through the blood and fire of it all. There is life after Ragnarok but not as before.
Due to this BEFORE Ragnarok makes a comment occurrence as the End Game, the Finale, the Great Danger the team of heroes and heroines, whether gods or mortals, must save the world from. There are also a good number of books that are set AFTER Ragnarok and often involve the survival of gods cast down from Asgard or their descendants. There are also books that ignore Ragnarok completely and are set where Ragnarok is no immediate threat and in these cases, the story is more likely an alternative world.
If you want to run head first into Ragnarok try: Ice Land by Betsy Tobin.
-ICE LAND is an epic tale of forbidden love. Set in the year 1000 AD, in the shadow of a smouldering volcano, it portrays a society on the brink of change, where the old values of loyalty and kinship are threatened by a new world order.
If you want to skip to post-Ragnarok try: American Gods by Neil Gaiman.
-After three years in prison, Shadow has served his time. But as the days and hours until his release tick away, he can feel a storm brewing.
If you would prefer a good Norse Fantasy with no influence of Ragnarok try: The Lost Sun: United States of Asgard by Tessa Gratton.
-Seventeen-year-old Soren Bearskin fears both the past and the future. His father, a famed berserker warrior, went to prison after killing thirteen innocent people during a mindless battle-frenzy. Berserking is in Soren’s blood, too: constant fevers and insomnia promise the power will explode in him any day.
Other titles set Before Ragnarok:
Norse Code by Greg Van Eekhout
-The NorseCODE genome project was designed to identify descendants of Odin. What it found was Kathy Castillo, a murdered MBA student brought back from the dead to serve as a valkyrie in the Norse god’s army.
Age of Odin by James Lovegrove
-Gideon Coxall was a good soldier but bad at everything else, until a roadside explosive device leaves him with one deaf ear and a British Army half-pension. So when he hears about the Valhalla Project, it’s like a dream come true. They’re recruiting former service personnel for excellent pay, no questions asked, to take part in unspecified combat operations.
Loki by Mike Vasich
-God of Mischief. Father of Lies. Harbinger of Destruction. Exiled and tortured by the gods, Loki swears vengeance.
-Bryn Halbrook had always seen the glow on the people around her. And she knows all too well what psychiatrists do to people who claim impossible powers. She’s always stayed below the radar, but when she discovers the meaning of the beautiful auras, she’s not sure why she was cursed with the ability to see the soon-to-be-dead and be unable to do anything about it.
The Swan Road by Angeline Hawkes
-The challenge will take several years, voyages across the seas, friends will be made and enemies created, blood of innocents will be shed and hearts will be broken before she can finally regain her identity, freedom and peace.
Valda and the Valkyries by Mark Neumayer
-Valda isn’t like the other Dwarf girls. She wants to live her own life, not the one Dwarf society says she has to live. She aches to travel outside the tunnels of her mountain home and see all the wonders the Nine Worlds have to offer.
Gospel of Loki by Joanne Harris
-It tells the story of Loki’s recruitment from the underworld of Chaos, his many exploits on behalf of his one-eyed master, Odin, through to his eventual betrayal of the gods and the fall of Asgard itself.
Runes series by the late Ednah Walters
-Scared, she sets out to find out what Torin is. But the closer she gets to the truth the more she uncovers something sinister about him. What Torin is goes back to an ancient mythology and Raine is somehow part of it. Not only is she and her friends in danger, she must choose a side, but the wrong choice will cost Raine her life
Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard by Rick Riordan
-Find out why Amir Fadlan hates clothes shopping in Midgard, see how Mallory Keen learns in icy Niflheim that insulting a dragon can be a good idea, and join Alex Fierro as they play with fire (and a disco sword) in the home of the fire giants, Muspellheim.
Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman
-Gaiman’s gods are thoroughly alive on the page – irascible, visceral, playful, passionate – and the tales carry us from the beginning of everything to Ragnarok and the twilight of the gods.
Other titles set After Ragnarok:
Runemarks & Runelight by Joanne Harris
-Runemarks- Maddy Smith was born with a rusty-coloured runemark on her hand – a symbol of the old gods and definitely cause for suspicion. For magic is dangerous. Or so everyone thinks. But Maddy enjoys working magic.
-Runelight- Sequel to Runemarks- Six hundred miles apart, two girls each bear on their skin a runemark: a symbol of the Old Days when the known Worlds were ruled by the gods from their sky citadel, Asgard.
Wolfsangel series by M. D. Lachlan
-A stunning multi-volume fantasy epic that will take a werewolf from his beginnings as the heir to a brutal Viking king, down through the ages.
Broods of Fenrir by Coral Moore
–Shapeshifter Brand Geirson was raised to rule the Broods of Fenrir, but he refused his birthright. Instead, he killed their brutal leader–his own father–and walked away.
Fade, Fall and Flame by A. K. Morgen
-An ancient Norse prophesy of destruction has been set into motion, and what destiny has in store for them is bigger than either could have ever imagined.
The Fetch by Chris Humphreys
-In the attic, in an old sea chest, secreted away, are a mysterious journal and a set of runes: 24 stones that will change Sky’s life forever.
Fate of the Gods series by Amalia Dillin
-Adam is after something more than just Eve’s power—he desires her too, body and soul, even if it means the destruction of the world. Eve cannot allow it, but as one generation melds into the next, she begins to wonder if Adam might be a man she could love.
Testament of Loki by Joanne Harris
-Mankind dreams of the Norse Gods once again, the river Dream is but a stone’s throw from their dark prison, and Loki is the first to escape into a new reality.
The Valhalla Saga trilogy by Snorri Kristjansson
-As punishment for disgracing his father, Ulfar Thormodsson has spent two bitterly uncomfortable years on the road, tasked with taking his highborn cousin Geiri on a tour of the kingdom. Now his journey is almost at an end – the walled town of Stenvik will be their final stop.
Sisters of Fate trilogy by Rinda Elliott
-The Lockwood triplets have had the prophecy drummed into their heads since birth. Still, Raven, the eldest of the sisters, can’t believe it’s really happening. She’s the reincarnation of a Norse goddess?
Freya & Slay by Matthew Laurence
-After Freya escapes from the power-controlling Finemdi Corporation, her quest to defeat her new enemy takes her to Hollywood.
Other titles set Outside of Ragnarok Timeline:
The Long Dark Tea Time of the Soul by Douglas Adams
-No rational cause could be found for the explosion – it was simply designated an act of God. But, thinks Dirk Gently, which God? And why? What God would be hanging around Terminal Two of Heathrow Airport trying to catch the 15:37 to Oslo?
West of the Moon by Katherine Langrish
-An epic and action-packed fantasy adventure that weaves together Norse legends, shadowy creatures and an unforgettable hero.
The Ship in the Hill by William Sullivan
-Based on the true story of a Viking burial ship unearthed in Norway in 1904, this historical novel alternates chapters between the archaeologists and the Viking queen who sailed the ship a thousand years earlier.
The Sleeping Army by Francesca Simon
-Freya is an ordinary girl living in modern Britain, but with a twist: people still worship the Viking gods. One evening, stuck with her dad on his night shift at the British Museum, she is drawn to the Lewis Chessmen and Heimdall’s Horn.
Valkyrie Rising by Ingrid Paulson
-Nothing ever happens in Norway. But at least Ellie knows what to expect when she visits her grandmother: a tranquil fishing village and long, slow summer days. And maybe she’ll finally get out from under the shadow of her way-too-perfect big brother, Graham, while she’s there.
The Littlest Viking by Sandi Toksvig
-When Amber, the littlest Viking, set out from Scandinavia to seek her fortune she must have got lost on her way! Now she’s in Pegwell Bay with no one but her pet squirrel for company. When Katie, Gary and Joshua find her stranded on the beach, they decide to look after her. Now there’s a Viking living in their garden!
Coming in part 3: The where and when; Blended, Fantastical or Alternative World Settings