I have been pleasantly surprised, because I was expecting this book to be truly awful, and it turned out to be not quite so bad. I can’t remember how it came into my possession, but it has lingered in my to-read pile for several years, awaiting a godforsaken, desperate hour in which I would find myself without an alternative.

The Valhalla Prophecy is actually book nine of the Wilde and Chase series, but there is nothing to stop it being read as a stand-alone novel if you’ve read a few formulaic action/adventure stories. This is a cheap cut of Indiana Jones, and not dissimilar to the work of Dan Brown.

It’s not a stellar work of literature, but it’s not trying to be. This book is like a McDonalds meal in a motorway services. Nothing special, but it does the job. It’s a book. You can read it. Your eyes probably won’t bleed.

‘…And I’m still in exactly the same shape I was in when I left the SAS.’

Nina eyed his midsection sceptically. ‘Uh-huh.’

I’m struggling to find anything really worth quoting, but the childish one-liners in this book are not all terrible.

The main characters are quite annoying, however. On one hand we have Nina Wilde, a feisty redhead archaeology expert who makes a lot of noise without actually saying anything. On the other we have Eddie Chase, Nina’s ex-SAS/mercenary chump of a husband, who, if this book became a film, would be played by Bruce Willis.

I don’t know if it’s just the ninth-time-we’ve-repeated-this-formula itch, but their chemistry is off, amounting to the exchanging of smutty jokes. The author has attempted to shoehorn some depth in by making them discuss having children, but there is no development.

Really, we are only saved by the secondary characters. Or, by one secondary character. Tova, the Swedish Norse mythology expert is just sort of there, and the bad guys are stereotypical goons, but Kagan, the grumpy Russian ally, is kind of cool, and only thing saving this book from a two-star review.

‘Are you okay?’

A pause as the other man sat up with a grunt. ‘I am not worse than I was,’ he concluded. 

The main problem with this book is that the main characters (mostly Eddie) are guilty of too much posturing. The secondary cast are there to make them look cool, and this results in the heroes being unflawed bores who steal the limelight.

Also, it’s way too long. 550 pages for this kind of novel is ridiculous. Maybe if the plot was a bit less predictable, and the characters a bit more rounded, I would be willing to wade, but this is just overkill. There wordcount allows for too much action, and not enough tension.

But for all the flaws, I read The Valhalla Prophecy in two days. The ending was a bit disappointing, but I finished it. The themes were not uninteresting, the writing didn’t make me grind my teeth.

If I had to sum this book up in one word, I would say that it’s alright.