The new fantasy novel combines the Norse tradition with modern settings to create a unique world

Spenser Lincoln’s first novel, Yaga in Yggdrasil City, is an eclectic mix of fantasy, mythology, urban fiction, bildungsroman, romance, and adventure. I have never read a book like this. EM Forster wrote in Aspects of the Novel: “Expansion. That is the idea that the novelist must cling to. Not completion. Not rounding, but opening.” Spenser Lincoln has incorporated that idea into his novel, showing us a complex world that we can only glimpse of. Reading this novel is like visiting a foreign country where we go out with limited knowledge of the people, but we have fallen in love with it and want to keep exploring over and over again.

The novel begins when Yaga and his two high school classmates, George and Audhild, defeat a lich that threatens their world. The prologue details this pivotal scene around which everything that follows is built.

Then in Chapter 1, we fast-forward four years to when Yaga is in college with his younger girlfriend, Simone. We follow Yaga’s daily activities, from flying to school in the fall and cleaning sidewalks for money in the winter, to grappling with how to use his first cell phone and helping his girlfriend make potions. Yes, they attend a college that teaches magic, but this book is not a Harry Potter story. Instead, it is a story of heartbreak as Yaga continually struggles with his past and who he wants to be in his present.

The battle with the lich created difficulties for George and Audhild while Yaga skyrocketed to momentary celebrity status. Even now, when people have largely forgotten about the lich attack, we are told that Yaga “seemed like he could do no wrong. He had radiated majesty that burned down to the subatomic level and influenced generations.” But that majesty and the power it has achieved also have negative effects on Yaga. They have made him selfish, which has created a distance between him and many of his friends. He has even caused his mother and sister to abandon him.

Yaga in Yggdrasil City is not the story of a superhero. Thor may feel right at home living in Yggdrasil, the great world tree in Norse mythology on which the city of the novel is built, but he has no place in this novel. This novel is an introspective look at the costs of heroism.

It is also a masterful creation of a fictional world. Yggdrasil is its own planet, but one that seems like a familiar but alternate reality to the reader. There are many humans in Yggdrasil, but there are also elves, sphinxes, vampires, and many other creatures. In truth, we only get small glimpses of this complicated society and how it works, and the reader is left wanting more. Numerous volumes will not quench the thirst for knowing the details of this complex and intriguing world. Here are just the opening two paragraphs of Chapter 1 that introduce us to this unique place:

“Outside of proper time and space, a flat and infinite plain existed. Its base was the proto-material before the first atom. Scattered across its surface were ruins and transplants of older realities. The transplanted peoples of the pre-existing worlds congregated and they formed the only true landmark, a sapling of Yggdrasil, the World Tree.

“Even as a sprout, the tree had risen and belittled every natural growth and deadly construction that had ever existed. Before the first human, or at least one bipedal person, was diverted into this remnant of existence, the young tree It was a mountain. Over eons of relative time, the tree grew and people built a city from it and from the inside out. In the areas beyond the shadow, they planted their crops and flags and built fences to protect both. Under the leaves, sewage came first, and the smoke-belching industry took over what little solid ground remained. From the roots of the city center to the high branches of the upper area, people lived and he made a living providing services to everyone else. Today, Yaga provided one of these city services as a pharmacy clerk while watching the first snow fall outside the window. “

As a hero who now works as a pharmacy clerk, you know that kind of contrast will set the reader up for a journey full of twists and turns. I guarantee that every page of Yaga in Yggdrasil City will have you reacting in wonder to the complexities of this strange and magical world, all the result of Spenser Lincoln’s imagination.