Review – Votan

Cover of Votan & Other Stories by John JamesVotan, John James

I found Votan a really interesting read; I’m not entirely sure I liked it, but it was mesmerising anyway. There’s something compulsive about it: I just needed to know what the heck Photinus did next, what trouble he got into and how he got out of it, and how that all works into the conceit that he’s at the back of a whole lot of Norse mythology. Sometimes I felt I wasn’t entirely sure what was going on — that I’d missed a reference or something: there’s a lot of playing around with the material, pulling from different stories and sources.

It’s been published as both a fantasy and a historical novel, and I’m not honestly sure where I’d classify it. It’s almost febrile, somehow — all the things Photinus does, all the places he goes; reading it felt like a fever-dream. I lost track of people, places; somehow it didn’t really matter.

I did enjoy it, I think, but I’m not so enamoured of it that I’m going to read Not For All The Gold In Ireland or Men Went to Cattreath. Not entirely sure I want to see John James ride roughshod over Y Gododdin, so I’ll skip it.

Rating: 3/5

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