The Beasts of Valhalla
Comments from George C. Chesbro
The 4th in the Mongo series, the 1st volume in what I have come to think of as "The Valhalla Trilogy" (with Two Songs This Archangel Sings and The Cold Smell of Sacred Stone).

There was a long hiatus between An Affair of Sorcerers and The Beasts of Valhalla. After Affair- I was invited by another publisher to come over to his publishing house, the stipulation being that I write a "mainstream thriller," not a Mongo. When asked what I would want as an advance, I replied, "enough to free me from teaching" (I had spent 17 years as a Special Education teacher, instructing the educable mentally retarded). The result was Turn Loose The Dragon. The publishing industry was booming then, and indeed I was given enough of an advance to quit teaching and begin writing full time. The novel was to be published in both hardcover and paperback, and receive major promotion. The Editor In Chief was to be my editor. Well, wasn't I the lucky dog?

Almost immediately after I received my advance (on the strength of a proposal) and began the novel, the industry took a nosedive. The Editor In Chief was fired, plans to start a hardcover house were scrapped, and Dragons became an "orphan." It was eventually published as an original paperback, with no promotion, and, like most orphans, it dropped through the cracks like a stone. I ran out of money, and once again had to seek gainful employment. I considered going back to teaching to be a psychological defeat; I wanted to remain a "player," so I took a job as a night security guard so that I would have time to write and do writing business during the day.

After jumping my first publisher's ship, I did not feel I would be welcome there any longer. Still, it was during this time that the notion for Beasts- began to form. I had always loved Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, and Wagner's great "Ring" tetralogy. I loved fantasy, dwarfs were a staple of fantasy, and I had a dwarf. So far, so good. I could come up with giants, etc. from his time in the circus. I could send the brothers on a Grand Quest where the fate of the world hung in the balance. I could draw all sorts of parallels, except one: there could be no magic, since Mongo lived in the real world. I solved this problem by having cutting-edge science take the place of magic, and my Evil Sorcerer was a vintage variety Mad Scientist.

I was having one hell of a good time. This, I decided, was going to be unlike any detective novel ever written. Better still, following the traditions of fantasy literature and the operas, I would write not one but four interconnected books. Sure I was.

I managed to come up with a proposal for the four books, and every editor my agent showed it to said, "What the hell is this?" Undeterred, I pressed on and actually wrote Book One, which I called "Game Of Beasts," to be presented along with the proposal. Every editor my agent showed Book One and the proposal to said, "What the hell is this?" Oh, well. The whole thing went into my trunk, I continued trudging around a rock-and-roll motel from 11 P.M. to 7 A.M., and eventually came up with something else that did sell.

One day my agent was having lunch with an editor who, it turned out, was a Mongo fan. The editor asked what was up with me and Mongo. My agent, who by this time didn't know, said he would set up a luncheon appointment. I took Book One and the proposal with me into New York, gave it to the editor. A few weeks later I received a memo saying, in effect, that this was the strangest detective novel he had ever read, but he liked it and was going to pass it on to the editorial board. Somewhat to my astonishment, I was offered a contract. The four separate novels I had envisioned would have to be compressed into one book, but that was fine with me. I was delirious.

It was with the publication of The Beasts of Valhalla that the Fredericksons' lives and careers, along with my life and career, began to change drastically.


This impossible-to-put-down novel features the return of George Chesbro's splendid sleuth Mongo in his greatest adventure: a tale that marries hard-boiled detective fiction to the greatest of fantasy fiction.

The Beasts of Valhalla begins when Mongo attends the funeral of his nephew, a presumed suicide, and is asked to look into his death. His nephew was a computer genius who had invented an elaborate game based on Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, and it is there that Mongo finds his first clues of foul play. Mongo soon finds himself embarked on a fantastic odyssey, hunting---and being hunted by---a genius whose experiments with DNA have created bizarre creatures, and who in his megalomania dreams of saving mankind by destroying it. Mongo follows the trail from New York City to California's Big Sur, from a hellish underground world populated by newly created monsters to an Armageddon in an icebound fortress deep in the Arctic.

It is a novel to set beside Michael Crichton's The Terminal Man and William Hjorstberg's Falling Angel, in which dazzling inventiveness goes hand-in-hand with unremitting suspense.

---From the dustjacket of the Atheneum edition
Quotes from the novel

  • ...people preoccupied with questions of self-worth are easily smothered by the trivial. -Mongo

  • Growing up a dwarf is a real pain in the mind... -Mongo
  • "Somebody should write a huge detective saga, like one of those four volume fantasy mothers." -Zeke Cohen

  • I despised cruelty to dwarfs even more than cruelty to animals. -Mongo

  • "God's a very busy woman, Mom, and I imagine I'm hard to keep track of under the best of circumstances." -Mongo

  • "I'm tired of rescuing you; it gets boring after a few years. I figured this time I'd let the villains keep you, just to see how it turns out." -Garth

  • "You don't even look like the Lone Ranger." -Garth

  • "What is evil lives forever." -Xavier Lippitt

  • "...Garth and I aren't servants of Satan-even Satan can't get good help these days." -Mongo

  • "Hell, I'm not worried because I'm with you. I've decided that you and your brother are indestructible; you wouldn't die if somebody threw you out of an airplane. As long as I'm with you two, I'm convinced everything is going to turn out just fine." -Xavier Lippitt

  • "Our only responsibility is to live our own lives in the best, most honorable way possible." -Mongo

Copyright © 2018, Hunter Goatley. All rights reserved.
Last updated 25-MAR-2018 21:41:49.76.