Let’s start the New Year right with a review of a great Lutheran-written book! Lars Walker hit it out of the ballpark for me with Troll Valley, a book published in 2012 described by one of my good friends as the Great American Novel.
Troll Valley Review
I’m a big fan of Lars Walker and everything of his that I have ever read. Having said that, I wasn’t quite sure what genre Troll Valley would be. Would it be as historical as his Viking stories? As mythic, even though this book is set in the United States around the turn of the Twentieth Century? As folklorish and multiworld as what he’s set in the future? So let me tell you. 🙂
This book is about a family of Norwegian immigrants to the United States. They begin as farmers, but just about every aspect of life, including changing business and table delicacies, get explored as Lars Walker tells a story following the main character as he grows from a boy into a man.
There is folklore, but there is also a heavy dose of Lutheran pietism. You’ll learn about Hans Hauge, even as you learn more about the prohibition movement in the States. You’ll learn about Norwegian immigration and the American melting pot as it was once experienced. But what I love about this book is how it weaves together habits and episodes within a larger story arch that spans cool aspects of American history (ie., cowboys, outlaws, and goldmining, to name a few) with realistic life struggles that have significant spiritual overtones. Yes, it has occasional . . . should I call it fey intervention? Yes, it deals with things like prohibition, coexisting with other religious beliefs, industrialization, etc. but all together it really is just a great American novel that’s truly Great American Novel material!
This book is Christian historical fantasy but in far from a preachy way. The Christians are not automatically the good guys! There are superstitions and situations stretched beyond the breaking point.
There is also a modern story frame, which has ongoing percussions with me: It’s like I’m also learning the story to help me dry out.
Read this book! But don’t expect the main character to be a troll. 🙂 I think Troll Valley is a reference to a place in Norway with the settlers establishing a new Troll Valley of sorts. It wouldn’t surprise me if it’s also a way to ponder in what way we all have trolls in our lives.
Fantastic book from a fantastic author. I will happily read every book that that man writes.