The Land You Never Leave by Angus Watson (West of West #2)

Thanks to Orbit for an ARC of The Land you Never Leave in exchange for an honest review. Receiving this ARC in no way influences my thoughts or opinions on the book or its author.

Have you ever judged a book by its cover? The reason I ask is because I am a book cover snob. If a cover appeals to me, I’ll more than likely pick it up and at least give it a glance over.

Well, that is sort of what happened with You Die When You Die (not to mention that awesome title).

Having never read Watson’s Iron Age trilogy, I had no idea what to expect from his writing. All I knew was that it was Viking fantasy and had to involve a mass amount of bloodshed. While I didn’t find myself disappointed, it turned out to be a completely different novel than I was expecting.

It was actually pretty hilarious. The sort of a mix between the lore/violence/heritage of Vikings and the humor of Douglas Adams. Weird, right? But it worked brilliantly.

Now, we have its sequel, The Land You Never Leave.

Taking place on the heels of Book 1, we are once again camping out with the group from Hardwork (aka The Mushroom Men) and the Owsla (a group of magically endowed, brutish women) as they make their way west of west, across the Ocean of Grass, to save mankind. Unfortunately for them, they are captured early on by a group of murderers known as Badlanders and are taken to a Thunderdome-ish arena for the enjoyment of the Badland’s inhabitants. Forced to wear box collars full of spiders and watched 24/7 by a group of creepy children, our heroes must do what they are told or face imminent death.

As mentioned, what I enjoyed the most about this series is the humor. It is a constant back and forth between antagonists and protagonists, fraught with "dick jokes" and demasculinization (the urban dictionary definition; not the testicle removal Webster version) of one another. It is chock-full of danger and violence, and enough bloodshed to fill the ritual bowls 1,000,000 times over. It is a bunch of Floki’s who are forced to fight for their lives when all they want to do is take drugs and build boats.

But this series also has a lot of heart. Finnbogi the Boggy (whose name I absolutely love) has to grow up quickly and decide whether or not he wants to become a hero, and if so, what sort of hero he will be. It is about how this group comes together, despite their differences, and works together to overcome all obstacles in their way, even when a huge chunk of those obstacles includes running around with deadly spiders wrapped around their necks.

West of West is a seriously underestimated, underhyped, and overlooked series that absolutely garners more attention than it is getting. If you enjoy an overdose of humor with your intense fight scenes and gory detail, then these books are right up your alley.

8/10 If you enjoy an overdose of humor with your intense fight scenes and gory detail, then these books will be right up your alley.

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