About to head into Shackled Fates, and it's been too long ago since you read the first part of the story, with no time to re-read Northern Wrath? I've got you covered. Behold: a short synopsis, multiple spoilers included (yes this is short—it’s a 600+ paged book, y’all).
Haven't read Northern Wrath, yet? This is the wrong page, head here, immediately!
Looking for the sequel? This is where you ought to go.
If you're good on both accounts, and want to refresh your memory, proceed in peace.
Previously in the Hanged God trilogy
After the fall of their hometown, the surviving warriors of Ash-hill decide to raid the city of Magadoborg to send a message to the Christian Southerners: a last stand to protect their own lands and beliefs.
Meanwhile, Hilda—another survivor of Ash-hill—follows the mysterious whispers in the wind she calls the Runes, and her fylgja, a spiritual guide that takes the form of a snow fox, to join the warriors. On the journey she walks through a ‘passage grave’ into another world, has her eyes burned by a fire demon, and gains a sword and axe forged by the legendary smith Ulfberht. Dripping blood into her eyes to soothe the pain, she finds and re-joins her tribe, determined to fight. The chief is reluctant to let Hilda join their raids, but Sigismund, a respected captain and warrior, offers her a spot on his crew. Unbeknownst to any of them, a fire demon, a creature of Muspelheim, lurks within her, waiting to jump out.
The warriors continue their journey south but their chieftain dies in an early battle and their unity is threatened. The chief’s son Einer and his boyhood rival Finn face off in deadly single combat to choose the next chieftain. During the duel, Finn is discovered to have taken the old chief’s sword, robbing him of it in death. Enraged, Einer swiftly defeats his opponent and orders him to become his debt thrall, bound to him as a servant until the debt has been repaid in full.
Hilda’s father, Ragnar, former skald of Ash-hill, has passed away, but instead of waking up in either Valhalla or Helheim in the afterlife, he is stuck in formless Darkness. Killed violently and resurrected whenever he makes a sound, Ragnar finds a way to look through the veil of the nine worlds and sees Loki lying in a cave. Next, he sees Ragnarok—the prophesied fall of his gods—and realises that he can influence the gods to do what he wants with his own thoughts, but how will that help him escape this terrible Darkness?
The dead chief’s wife Siv, and Tyra, the daughter of a friend, have also survived the battle of Ash-hill. Siv, an ancient being long hidden among mortals, saved Tyra at the battle by hiding her in the mysterious darkness inside their sacred ash tree. Siv knows that the nine worlds are drifting apart and she needs to prevent it by keeping the faith of the old beliefs strong in Midgard. With that goal in mind, Siv impersonates and replaces the new wife of King Harald Bluetan in Jelling, adopting Tyra officially as their daughter, hoping to turn Harald away from his new Christian faith.
Siv’s brother, the giant Buntrugg, is tasked with closing the furnace Hilda has opened, a task that takes him far through the nine worlds. To Alfheim, to Asgard, to Vanaheim, to reviving a dwarf called Bafir, to an unexpected meeting with young Tyra, and finally through the dark of a leaking passage grave to a furnace where the fire demons of Muspelheim rage. In the forge, the many spirits of Buntrugg’s forefathers emerge to protect him and with their help Buntrugg slams the furnace shut, but he is severely burned and falls into the water which surrounds the forge, thinking his life forfeit.
As the distant furnace closes, the fire demon which lies waiting inside Hilda gains enough strength to emerge. At the battle at Magadoborg, the demon burns Hilda’s snow fox to escape. Desperate to save her dead fylgja, Hilda recites incantations heard in the Runes, not caring about the consequences. She feels different when the snow fox comes back to life: her eyes are not burning anymore, she can see better than ever. She rushes back to the fight.
Einer, too, has left the chaos of the battle—to search for Hilda, who has not come back although she promised to. Out on the fields, he sees Hilda’s dead body. Angry at the gods for taking her, Einer welcomes the ancient rage within and launches at the enemy.
Hilda does not realise that she has died and follows the whispers in the wind to leave Magadoborg with the warriors. From afar, she sees Einer’s fylgja, a huge white bear, fierce in battle in the southern town.
You're now caught up on the most basic parts of the story so far, and ready to fall back into the nine worlds with Shackled Fates. Enjoy the journey!