The End of Paradise by Carl Borgen
The mythic Bock Saga is reimagined by author and historian Carl Borgen into a deeply engaging fantasy adventure that will thrill and delight readers young and old.
By Timothy Arden
It is rare in the realm of fantasy fiction to find something truly fresh presented to the reader.
Mesmerising new young adult novel The End Of Paradise, however, bucks the trend, and for a simple reason—it is the first novel directly inspired by one of humanity’s least-known but most fantastic creation myths: the Bock Saga.
For most of us, our first introduction to the Bock Saga came late last year, when news of an ongoing search to find a multi-billion-pound treasure known as the Lemminkäinen Hoard made national and international headlines.
For the first time, it shone the spotlight on a group of amateur archaeologists, dubbed the ‘Temple Twelve’, who for the last three decades have been trying to find material proof of the existence of a first civilisation, the Aser, as described within the Bock Saga.
Until the group, literally, strike gold we’ll never be sure whether the Saga, which tells of how the Aser lived in a halcyon era of total social and environmental harmony known as the Paradise Time, is true or not.
In the meantime, however, we can explore this fascinating purported culture through the medium of fiction, letting our imaginations be captured as the story of this blessed people’s ultimate fall is retold in gripping fashion, and how a small band of unlikely heroes were instrumental in ensuring that, at least, their legacy survived.
Firstly, rest assured that you don’t need to be familiar with the myth to enjoy this story. Everything you need to know to set the scene and follow the narrative is included by author Carl Borgen, who should know these things being the world’s leading historian of the Bock Saga. This includes a handy glossary of terms from the Aser’s ‘Root’ language.
The book’s introduction explains that the Paradise Time began when the first two humans were born at the exact location of the North Pole, known in their tongue as ‘Hel’. In those far-distant times the Pole was a verdurous haven and there sprang a mighty civilisation, beginning with the first Ringland of Odenma and radiating outwards until the entire world was populated.
The End Of Paradise by Carl Borgen makes for riveting reading, combining the feel of a fairy tale with the decimation of a disaster movie.
Ruling the civilisation was an Allfather and royal family. Considered living gods, they ensured that traditions were maintained across the generations and that the Wheel of Life continued.
And these were traditions worthy of preservation. Mankind lived communally, sharing all and coexisting peacefully without worries or cares. They spoke with the animals and respected all other creatures to the point that they were strict vegetarians and would not slaughter any beast for its fur.
And so it went, until the Earth’s axis suddenly began to shift, bringing with it the mother of all environmental disasters: a new ice age.
As the book’s title would suggest, The End Of Paradise takes place at the time of this cataclysmic natural upheaval.
It focuses on Morgan, an ingenious individual whose maverick tendencies have previously led to him being rejected by society. He dared to defy convention by having children when that privilege was the exclusive privilege of higher classes. For this, he and his family have been banished into the deserts around the verdant land of Rodemia within Odenma.
That same flexibility of mind, however, is called upon when Rodemia suffers a series of earthquakes that block up the only passage between it and the outside world. With the region no longer accessible, the Wheel of Life cannot be maintained and the civilisation faces collapse.
Bock Saga historian Carl Borgen has drawn upon the vividly detailed creation myth to make a young adult adventure novel like no other.
Morgan volunteers to traverse the dangerous peaks of the surrounding Ringberg, a natural mountain barrier which encases Rodemia, to discover the cause of the problem. Joining him are his wife and brave daughters, Zinnia and Aika, his half-brother Mordred, their friend KK and a sailor, Sinbad, who knows the territory better than anyone.
As their quest progresses, the situation will only become worse with temperatures continuing to plummet and desperate people to fend off. It’s a tense battle for survival that becomes ever more epic chapter by chapter, in the same vein as a Hollywood disaster movie or the classic sci-fi novel When Worlds Collide.
All told then, this thrilling fantasy adventure features a desperate race against time that will have you glued to your seat.
Accessible and suitable for a younger audience, The End Of Paradise is beautifully written, with a simple, nature-loving lyricism to it that captures the wonders of this vanishing world, before it is extinguished for ever.
For instance, take this passage where the communal lifestyle of the lower class, the Trel—to which Morgan and Mordred belong—is described:
Like most other children, they had grown up with their mothers, who had their living quarters at the forest edge on the south-east side of a spacious clearing, where the sunlight fell unfiltered like a waterfall. As a snake grows out of its skin and experiences rebirth in new skin, so the two brothers were born new when they reached the age of seven. Their new life took place not with their mothers but with the Trel men who lived on the other side of the fire in the clearing. Those men, while not their fathers, took care of the boys as if they were their own. The Trel men took the boys on their treks through the forest and taught them everything they knew.
It has been said that the Bock Saga makes the reader examine their own life critically, and by reading this novel you do get the sense that, perhaps, we have lost our way somewhere along the path.
To read about the innocent Aser’s impending destruction is, therefore, something of a gut punch but it can’t be argued that it makes for a rip-roaring story.
This is fully supported by the main cast, each defined by their own emotions and outlooks, hopes and fears.
And Borgen has no problem making the female characters just as three-dimensional as their male counterparts, marked by their feistiness and spiky dialogue.
A rich, colourful and dramatic exploration of the fascinating Bock Saga, The End Of Paradise is a novel I wholeheartedly recommend to all readers.
If you enjoy it then you can learn more about the creation myth in the author’s previous, non-fiction works: The Bock Saga: An Introduction and memoir Temporarily Insane, which covers the real-life search for the Lemminkäinen Hoard.
The End of Paradise by Carl Borgen is available now from Amazon in hardcover, paperback and eBook formats, priced £17.99, £12.75 and £4.99 respectively. For more information, visit www.carlborgen.com or follow Carl Borgen on Twitter and Facebook at @TheBockSaga.
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