• The Skald's Black Verse

  • The Dreadbound Ode, Book 1
  • By: Jordan Loyal Short
  • Narrated by: Aaron Smith
  • Length: 11 hrs and 47 mins
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (6 ratings)

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The Skald's Black Verse

By: Jordan Loyal Short
Narrated by: Aaron Smith
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Publisher's Summary

Grimdark fantasy with a sci-fi twist! 

An isolated village. Conquered by another world. Haunted by a hidden evil. When a soldier’s grisly murder sparks unrest in the tiny hamlet of Skolja, Brohr’s past marks him as the prime suspect. On the run from the Tyrianite Legion, he uncovers an unthinkable secret about the raging spirit that haunts him, and the pact his grandfather struck long ago.

Soon, a dire omen appears in the sky and the hunt for Brohr intensifies. While the brutal occupation of his village devolves into bloodshed, Brohr must unlock the secret magic in his blood and lead the Norn in a last-ditch rebellion.

Behind it all an ancient horror pulls the strings of conqueror and conquered alike. Can Brohr untangle the hidden plot and unite his people before disaster rains down from the sky above?

©2019 Jordan Short (P)2021 Jordan Short

What listeners say about The Skald's Black Verse

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I love a good story

To illustrate my review, one chapter that I fondly remember has scenes of a hidden person overhearing evacuation plans, a tense knife throwing competition in a old pub, and a tall creature on a pier. [If that doesn’t interest you, please put down your phone, go look in the mirror, and commit to being a fun person.] The story combines equal parts deep character development, an engrossingly unusual world, and a masterful plot. I love a good story.

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  • JW
  • 05-28-22

Really interesting dark science fantasy

Really interesting science fantasy with a grimdark style foundation - strong grounding in Norse elements but connected to a galactic scale and empire, mixing magic, fascinating science, and political issues around occupation/colonization in very interesting ways. So refreshing to read a fantasy with science fiction elements that felt tangible and almost gritty. Enjoyed the weight on character experience as well. Looking forward to the next in the series, will definitely continue the series.

1 person found this helpful

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My favorite trilogy!

The characters are great, the writing is incredible, and I love the story! Jordan Loyal Short has something special here, and he found the perfect Narrator in Aaron Smith!

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Cool Viking SciFi

Author definitely borrowed from Viking mythology, but spun it into a SciFi story. Enjoyed this one, was a little dark, but otherwise good story

“I was voluntarily provided this free review copy audiobook by the author, narrator, or publisher.”

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Fantastic Dark Science Fiction and Fantasy

THE SKALD'S BLACK VERSE by Jordan Loyal Short is a science-fiction fantasy novel that takes place on an isolated world at the heart of a vast interstellar empire. The planet was conquered long ago and has been ground down to a Medieval subsistence. However, with a looming natural disaster, the seeds of rebellion are planted that are aided by mysterious supernatural forces.

The world-building of this book is something that I really enjoyed. The village of Skolja is a Viking-themed Medieval sort of place but it is dominated by foreign forces that came from the sky and conquered the place three generations ago. There's hints of Braveheart, Warhammer 40K, and Skyrim in the world-building. The book walks a fine line between justifying the anachronistic mixture of technology as even the invading humans from space are a crude theocratic organization halfway Roman and half-way Catholic.

The take on colonialism is an interesting one as while the Empire is depicted as arrogant and oppressive, the reaction to this oppression is handled in different ways. The mayor of Skolja cooperates with them and attempts to mediate any problems, believing peace is the ideal. Unfortunately, the local Prefect could not care less about these efforts and just wants to be reassigned. His son is ambivalent about all of it, not realizing how important his father's role as a collaborator is.

Contrasting this is Brohr, a local half-breed citizen who has just lost his girlfriend due to savagely beating a man in front of her. Brohr is possessed by his dead brother's ghost and it gives him vast supernatural powers that are just bubbling under the surface. Brohr's grandfather wants to avenge his fallen people and is willing to use his own blood as a weapon to do so, no matter the cost. The fact his grandfather is obsessed with racial purity, long ago wrongs, and vengeance makes him a less sympathetic rebel than usually is the case in these kind of stories.

Really, this is a book that thrives on its characters and the fact that it mostly relates to a single village on a remote planet gives it a very interesting feel. I'd argue this is a kind of blackish space age steampunk but it also possesses quite a bit of magic to go along with its weird tech. The skalds of the world knew many forms of magic that have since been outlawed by the empire but are slowly making a return. Magic is dark and twisted, dealing with alien entities, that enhances the feel of sorcery. It is an evil and unnatural thing but perhaps the only advantage the native peoples have.

This is a book full of moral ambiguities that I enjoyed. The colonizers are a bunch of selfish jerks but the majority of them are just doing their jobs, the initial atrocities having happened a long time ago. The resistance to them is ambivalent and bordering on banditry with the ideologues having mostly aged out. The typical Skolja citizens has adapted to the new way of life and are more concerned about where their next meal is coming from rather than the occupiers of their planet. The residents of Skolja feels like a combination of a Scot, Norseman, and various fishing peoples that help them feel familiar without feeling identical to these cultures.

Practicality also dictates that this tiny resource-poor world with no technology is unable to do squat against the empire anyway. The empire won against the locals because they had better numbers, technology, and magic. This is an unsympathetic and uncaring world that doesn't have any real natural sense of justice. If they successfully revolt, they'll just get crushed with the next wave but that doesn't mean much to people who want blood more than victory. All of the ideologies competing here mean nothing to the comet that's about to hit the neighboring moon and shower the planet in debris, too. In the face of an uncaring natural disaster, all the talk about freedom and oppression may be secondary to survival.

In conclusion, this is a solid and entertaining piece of fantasy science fiction. I'm a big fan of Warhammer 40K and this is very similar with a "ground's eye" view of what being the subject of a vast interstellar civilization would be like for the average citizen. The depiction of brutality from colonizer to colonized, the inhumanity of man, generation grudges, poverty, and religious fanaticism are all intriguing to read as well. This is extremely well-written grimdark and if you like your fantasy and sci-fi gritty as well as depressing then this is a book you should pick up.

Oh and the narration is fantastic too.

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  • Fantasy Book Nerd
  • 03-22-22

Dark and grim infused sci Fi fantasy


Jordan Loyal Short begins his sci - fi/ fantasy Trilogy, Dreadbound Ode with this dark tale of rebellion and Revolution in The Scald's Black Verse.

Brohr is the grandson of Anders Nilstrom, a deeply scarred veteran of The Tyrianite invasion of his homeworld Heimir. Brohr is a mix of Norn and Tyrianite, born of a brutal assault by Tyrianite troops, which leaves his mother pregnant with twins

However, his twin is killed at birth and bound to him by a dark ritual performed by his grandfather shortly after Brohr's birth.

Skip forward quite a few years and Brohr is planning to run away with his girlfriend. However, things don't go according to plan when his supposed best friend tattle tales on his plans and they are stopped. As a result, Brohr loses his temper, and subsequently beats said best friend half to death.

As a result, he is shunned even more than he was, and things go from bad to worse when he is out drinking and gambling. The result of the night, which is one that is echoed in towns all over the universe it seems, is violence. However, whilst the man that Brohr became involved with is unconscious, he is killed be a shadowy apparition. The event is witnessed by two others Lyssa and Hendrick.

This incident is the catalyst for an event that will change all their lives forever.

I have got to say that this book surprised me, and I did not expect it to go the way that it did. Initially, the world building points to a Norse inspired fantasy. A pitch black Norse inspired fantasy, I may add! However, things soon took a different turn with the introduction of space faring invaders that are oppressing the people of Heimir and the whole book goes in a direction that I did not foresee.

The story is made up of four diffiering POV’s; Brohr, Lyssa, Hendrick and Brasca, each of them very different. Brohr is possessed by the spirit of his dead brother and resembles a berserker (or The Hulk, or even Slaine the Horned God when he goes into his warp spasm). Then there is Lyssa, an independent young woman who is totally bored of working in her father’s tavern. Next up is Hendrick, a spoilt prig of a boy whose father is the Mayor, and also one who has done very well from allying himself with the oppressing forces. And finally, there is Brasca, the Tyrianite Prefect sent to Heimar as some kind of political punishment.

The story is mainly confined to one place, the village of Skolja (although there is some mention of other towns in the world). Whilst in some ways it may seem that it is limited in its world building, it does add to the intensity of the book. And I have to say, I did find this book quite intense.

Like I mentioned earlier, this is a dark fantasy, pitch black even, but this works well. It highlights the oppression that the inhabitants of the village are experiencing, and it also heightens that sense of foreboding that is ever present throughout the book.

Throughout the story, there seem to be a plethora of differing influences in there, such as; epic fantasy, grimdark, ecological disaster, sci fi and even some folk horror. Whilst it may make you wonder how these elements can be melded together, Jordan Loyal Short makes them work extremely well and provide a fantasy tale that is quite individual.

The magic system is quite intriguing, with the Scalds using blood magic, which is used for all sorts of things like hiding evidence and intent. However, other forms of magic are used in the book, and we learn about bindings.

The characters are all well realised, with Lyssa being the standout for me. At times I found Brohr to be a little less than the sum of his parts and could be quite frustrated with him, whilst Hendrick was a typical lordling’s son. The other character Brasca was well realised and complex. It was interesting to see his story unfold to show how he had fallen from a star of the Tyrianite Empire to being demoted to his current position.

I liked that Jordan Loyal Short used some typical other fantasy elements like the chosen one trope, warring gods or the found family trope, and twisted them to fit the story.

So, if you like your dark fantasy flavoured with a bit of grimness and spiced up with a touch of Sci Fi and horror then give The Scold’s Black Verse a try.

In terms of the audio book itself, it was well produced, easy to listen to with the narrator, Aaron Smith, doing a fantastic job of differentiating the characters and giving them individual qualities.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Alan
  • 08-09-21

A Skaldy Verse

Wow that was so good, I had to buy the second book The Weeping Sigil, A fantastic blend of fantasy with beautiful twist of science fiction mixed together, Brohr is a halfling, a pig, well to some anyway, born of the rape of his mother by the invaders, his twin brother still born during the birth, lives inside him, his anger, hated, shunned and blamed for murder and is sentenced to death, can his brother get him out of his perilous predicament he is in, Brohr must learn to tap into his magical blood, a rebellion is stirring, while all the trouble makers are being rounded up and executed, there's a darker force at play here, an ancient horror the old one is coming and y'all better be ready when it does, absolutley amazing, Vikings and Spaceships, what more could you want, Dark and grim characters, the plot and worldbuilding are sublime, the narration by Aaron Smith gives an awesome performance, cracking sound effects that enhances the experience, highly recommend.

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  • Angela
  • 07-08-21

Good Dark Fantasy

This was a really fun dark fantasy novel. Plenty of action and great storytelling. Audio was done really well with plenty of scope and variation for the myriad of characters. I look forward to book 2.

*I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request via Audioboom and have voluntarily left this review.*

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  • J Smith
  • 07-02-21

The Skald’s Black Verse

I really enjoyed listening to this book. It’s a great story with interesting characters and storyline and plenty going on to keep everyone interested.
I couldn’t help be distracted by the thought that people capable of space travel haven’t developed their weapons past swords and daggers is a little strange; but not enough to lesson the quality of the story.
Narration was great too. Well paced with good character voices. I enjoyed the odd special effect such as the “enhanced voices” and the page turning for chapter intros. (They fit in very well and are very rare for anyone who may be worried!). I did wonder at the completely isolated scream that was added at one point though.
I’ll definitely be reading the next in the series as this book really lays all the groundwork for future books!
This is my honest opinion on a free review copy.