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Odin's Voice - Book Review

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by Chrystal Byrne (subscribe)
Freelance writer living on Brisbane's north side. Studied creative industries - currently studying library and information services.
Published February 24th 2012
Odin's Voice by Susan Price was published by Simon and Schuster UK Ltd in 2005. It's a novel of 313 pages, separated into chapters of about the same size. Odin's Voice is the first novel in Price's The Pagan Mars Trilogy and is followed by Odin's Queen (2006) and Odin's Son (2008).

Odin's Voice (2005) by Susan Price
Odin's Voice (2005) by Susan Price

Odin's Voice follows the lives of two young women as they start off on opposite ends of society's hierarchical system, become subject to dramatic changes of position within that system, and are finally drawn together in an attempt to take control of their own lives.

The novel starts off with a bonder (slave) named Kylie by the freewoman who owns her. One of Kylie's duties is to care for Freechild Apollo, whom she loves deeply. Kylie takes every chance she gets to take Apollo out with her to the Temple of Odin where she speaks Odin's Will, against the knowledge of Freewoman Perry, her mistress. It is unusual for a bonder to be chosen as a god's mouthpiece, 'but Odin was not to be fenced in by human understanding' (Price 3, 2005).

Kylie's worship of Odin, and the time she takes to venture out to the temple with Apollo, gets her sold out of the Perry household, much to her absolute distress. Kylie seems heartbroken, not to be away from Freeman and Freewoman Perry, whom she hates, but to be separated from Freechild Apollo. It isn't until later in the novel, when it is discovered that Apollo is actually her biological child that Kylie's plight is fully understood.

Kylie's future seems bleak until a band of worshippers at Odin's Temple buy out her freedom, as a gift to her. Rather than attempt to lead life as a freewoman, the bonder known as Kylie gives herself entirely over to the god Odin and becomes 'Odinstoy,' resident God-Speaker at the Temple of Odin.

The second young woman this novel focuses on is introduced as Affroditey Millington, or Affie for short. This young woman has it all. Free time to do anything and everything she wants, gorgeous looks complete with jellyfish-like colourful hair, genetically engineered for her when she was just in the womb, bonders assigned to do her bidding and friends as wealthy as her.

Susan Price
Susan Price

Affie is free, until her father commits suicide and her world crashes suddenly around her. Affie's step-mother informs her that she is ruined. Her father had been so far in debt that everything Affie thought they'd owned, had been mortgaged and borrowed against, including Affie herself. Affie is informed that she is now owned by the bank, and suddenly, her step-mother, mother and friends are nowhere to be found. Affie is sold off to a bonding company, her head is shaved, and she is forced to learn to do the things that before, her own bonder did for her.

After a while, Affie's bond is sold to Freewoman Perry who takes away the last thing she truly owns; her name; and calls her 'Kylie.' Affie is worked hard and feels miserable, alone and invisible to everyone around her, until a mysterious woman stops her on the street to tell her that she too, is loved. This beautiful stranger invites Affie to see her at the Temple of Odin, and says that she can bring along her charge, Freechild Apollo, as well.

This is how Affie meets Odinstoy. At first, Affie believes Odinstoy to be truly enamoured with her, but soon discovers that Odinstoy only approached her on the street as she was holding the hand of the god-speaker's own son. Affie feels betrayed but Odinstoy convinces her that she does love Affie, and that Odin brings people together for many reasons. Affie and Odinstoy grow to have a sisterly relationship, so it is of no surprise that when Odinstoy's new friend, Thorsgift, a priest from Mars, invites Odinstoy to become resident god-speaker in Mars' own Temple of Odin that Odinstoy accepts, on the basis that Affie and Apollo come too.

Odin the Wanderer (1896) by Georg von Rosen
Odin the Wanderer (1896) by Georg von Rosen

Obviously, as Affie is a bonder and Apollo is listed as the Perry's son, removing them from Earth to Mars would be no easy feat, and Odinstoy begins hatching a plan with some of her closest associates in order to make this happen. They cover everything, from removing the tracking devices to new names and disguises, but time is against them and on the night that Affie steals Apollo from his bed, the Perry's and the police are right behind them.

Now, I don't want to ruin the ending, but let's just say Affie and Odinstoy deal with obstacles aplenty. The last few chapters are tense and exciting, and the book was hard to put down.

Odin's Voice could be classified as Young Adult Fiction and deals with issues of society such as the ideas of a 'hierarchical' system, patriarchy, gender roles and also women/women relationships. Although the characters in Odin's Voice are not always likeable, and in fact are at times downright repellent, they are believable and intriguing. Overall I enjoyed this book, and plan to continue on to Odin's Queen and Odin's Son.
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Your Comment
Interesting premise, though I must say that I find the cover a bit off putting. Odinstoy appears to be heavily under the influence!
by Jennifer Muirhead (score: 3|1239) 3325 days ago
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