Heroes of the Valley by Jonathan Stroud

Ancient heroes defeated dangerous, bloodthirsty trows and claimed the valley where the creatures had lived. The heroes each claimed a part of the valley where they set up their houses. Generations later, the heroes’ descendants have forsaken the sword for more peaceful solutions, but this has not prevented feuds among the heroes’ houses. Halli Sveinsson comes from one such heroes’ house and he has always dreamed of being like the heroes in the stories. He gets the opportunity sooner than he expected after a prank he plays goes to far and leads to disastrous consequences.

Halli is an unusual protagonist because he dreams of the glory of battle. The heroes he idolizes are known for their bloody battles and the disregard with which they treat one another. He goes on a quest to avenge the loss of someone close, thinking he can be just like them. Instead he learns the truth of what it means to kill a person and is forced to re-examine everything he has ever believed about the legends he has grown up on.

This is just the type of story that I normally enjoy most, but for some reason I could not really get into this book. The writing felt a bit stiff and old-fashioned, almost a bit unnatural. The ending in particular left me more confused and less clear on what was happening and how it played into the legends we’d come to know. It felt random in some ways, almost like it had virtually nothing to do with the book itself.

Ultimately an okay read, but not something where I am dying to read what happens next.

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