Actual rating: 2.5Throughout reading this book, I had a word floating around in my mind. It wasn't a word, so much as a vague idea of a definition, and it's a shame that my brain doesn't have a CTRL+F function or a built-in thesaurus because it took me a good 3/4 of the book to actually put a word to the sensation that this book evoked within me.Lofty:1. Of imposing height.2. Elevated in character; exalted.3. Affecting grandness; pompous.4. Arrogant; haughty.While all of the above can be true to some extent regarding this book and its characters, I think definitions number 2 and 3 are most applicable. This book tries too hard to be epic, and it ultimately falls flat. The book is on a grand scale, with a considerable amount of Norse mythology, and as much it tries to portray the inevitability and possibility of a grand battle for Earth's fate, I just couldn't summon the interest for the book itself nor its characters. Even so, it tries pretty damn hard. I cannot remember the last time I've had to put so much effort into reading a book. By that I mean:- I had to refresh my knowledge of Norse mythology: While reading this book, I had to sit by a computer to constantly look up references and read up on the bare bones of it (Wikipedia, how I love thee!). This is not intended to dissuade anyone from reading the book. I view this part of my effort as necessary for better comprehension of the book, and it was even enjoyable. I am more well-versed in Far Eastern, Egyptian, Greek/Roman mythology, etc., and as such can bring up to mind, say, who Thetis or Amaterasu is without any additional effort. While I know the basics of the Nordic gods/goddesses, and let's face it, who doesn't know of Freya, Thor, or Odin, there are a lot more minor gods and creatures named here in this book than I can automatically recall. As such, it took a lot of additional research for me to read this book. It's probably unnecessary for the average reader, but I like knowing things and verifying things.- This book was a chore to read: It was as dull and dry as dirt. It reads in part like an actual Wikipedia article, and had the emotional evocation of a documentary. Yes, there is a lot of Norse mythology, the bad thing is that it's almost purely Norse mythology. At times, it felt like the plot is just an afterthought built around the mythology. I felt like I was reviewing for an exam with all the information and terminology that was being crammed into my brain. Alfr, Mjollnir, Hrimgrimmr, Gungir, Jotunar, Vidarr, Vali, etc. There was so much name-dropping, it felt like the author was just showing off her knowledge of the Aesir at times. This is an ambitious book, but it was not written with the enjoyment of the audience in mind.I'm not going to bother with summarizing the story, because the plot was a mess, and I don't think I can do a better part than the official blurb without running off into a mess of a rant, so let's let that summary stand. My criticism of the book and my reasons for giving it this rating was simply because I did not enjoy it.The good: for the most part, I felt that the depictions and the use of the Nordic gods and goddesses was true to their role in Nordic Mythology. A better scholar and one more well-versed than I can probably criticize it on that matter, but for my part, I don't think there is much inconsistency with the characters of the various gods and goddesses and how they're used. I did have one problem with how the author depicted the goddess Freya. She is the goddess of love, fertility, and battle, yet she's frequently described as a highly sexually manipulative being who kills with love. The corniness of the phrase aside, killing with actual love...I mean, really?I also cannot criticize the writing style, but regardless of the fact that it was well-written and the descriptions are on point, the writing left me emotionless. It left me feeling emotionless. The writing is textbook perfect, and just about as emotionally evocative. I just didn't really care about anything, however well-written it was; I couldn't muster up the energy to give a fuck about any characters or any bit of the plot.For those who live in San Francisco, or love it, you will find this book enjoyable, because there is a very definite sense of place. There's a lot of name-dropping as well regarding San Francisco, the streets, the districts, the shops. The Embarcadero, Hyde Street Pier, the Eddy, the French Laundry, Sutter Street. If you have a good knowledge of San Francisco at least you will be able to entertain yourself with place scavenging, if nothing else in this book.Mist is such a strange character. Firstly, I have a problem with the name. It feels like the author is dumbing things down for us. Initially, we know right away that Mist is a Valkyrie, with two fellow sisters. So here we have Horja, Bryn, and...Mist? Is that even a Nordic name? I don't know if it is or not, but it feels like the author doesn't think her readers have the mental capacity to remember a foreign name, so the Mary-Sue name of Mist is given to us, to make things easier. I try not to slap a Mary Sue label on a character, but here is my justification for it.She is skilled in all things. Fighting, wisdom, using magic, you name it. Even an ancient Light-Elf is impressed with her magical powers. And she's no goddess, she's just a humble Valkyrie."...elemental aspects that went beyond the magic wielded by most of the Aesir and their allies. Beyond any magic even the most powerful of the Alfar possessed, more than the Seidr that had existed even before the Runes had come to Odin. It was if she had reached back into the time before time and drawn upon the very force of life itself."Did I say she's no goddess? Oops. It was revealed very early on that she's actually Freya's daughter, she just didn't know it!Mist is lovely, stunningly beautiful, without knowing it."And she was beautiful, in spite of her obvious unawareness of her beauty. Her appearance was that of a twenty- eight-year- old woman; her candid eyes were gray with highlights of green, her cheekbones high, her lips full and firm, and her hair, fixed in a long braid at her back, was the gold of sun-kissed wheat."And her faults? What faults?! You know how you go to a job interview and the interviewer asks you "What is your biggest weakness?" and instead of revealing that you're a lazy slob who can barely get to work on time every day, you mutter something to the tune of "I'm too hard-working, too organized," it's like that with Mist. She is "too honest, too forthright."There's also a spicy Latina character that I'm not altogether comfortable with. She speaks perfect English, yet feels the need to throw in occasional Spanish words. "Estupido!" "Idioto" "Cabrón." She is fierce, she is protective, she is temperamental. Turn on a TV, and that's pretty much the embodiment of every Latina character ever. Gabi seems to me, a stereotype.Her love interest, Dainn, left me cold. I didn't think he contributed much to the story, I mean, of course he helped, but it's like Legolas in The Lord of the Rings. It just seems like he stands around looking pretty (Dainn is an elf, after all) and making bold statements but not really contributing much overall.My only truly positive experience reading this book was that I can picture Tom Hiddleston as Loki in my head for every scene in which he appears. Even if this Loki had red hair instead."And the figure that emerged from the shadows was not tall and broad-shouldered, but as lean and wiry as a stoat. He was dressed in black from neck to toe, modified biker's leathers adorned with flashy metal trimmings and emblazoned with a stylized flame. His eyes were brilliant green, the irises rimmed with orange. His red hair was artfully styled, and his long, handsome face was smiling.Mmm.