November 16, 2011

for the love of Thor

Before I go into today's post, don't forget to enter the giveaway. Win my steampunk novel The Clockwork Giant! For every ten people who comment, there will be one winner, and there are multiple ways to win.

So after five days of nothing but Skyrim, I suppose it’s time to get back to business. I’ve vowed not to touch the Xbox today, except in the case to move it when I clean up the disaster zone my living room has become. And while I will have to start using my brain beyond figuring out how to sneak through a cavern stocked with Falmer without being noticed, I decided that today should be a fun post. I haven’t done a non-writing post in a long time (those posts where I lament about not writing are technically still about writing). I used to do fun little posts about snippets of history or magical creatures because they fall under the category of my interests, and I think I should start doing those again. If only once a month or something.

It should come as no surprise to most of you that I love the Norse. I’m not sure exactly when my passion for helmed, hairy, fur-clothed men began, but that fascination has done nothing but grow over the years. Every archeological discovery regarding the Norsemen excites me—tombs, ships, houses, jewelry, gravestones. I’ve read all the Norse myths multiple times. I know the Elder Futhark (in fact, I made a set of Elder Futhark runes), and I’m slowly learning Icelandic. I once tried to write a novel set in a Norse setting (which indubitably failed). I dream of successfully writing a Norse epic someday, maybe after the Chroniker City novels are finished. And when I first found out that the next Elder Scrolls game would take place in Skyrim, the home of the Nords, I think I died of awesome.

Now I may not know when I first became fascinated by this group of people, but I definitely know why. I’d like to consider the Norse as the Romans of the North. Their settled lands spread outward from Scandinavia, as far as North America to the west, Sicily to the south, and the Black Sea to the east. Their raids spread even further, to the Spain, North Africa, and the Caspian Sea. Remnants of their culture still exist today. Old English and Old Norse both derive from a Proto-Germanic language, the mother of all Germanic languages. And we’re still learning about them. We’re still discovering little pieces of their history.

I’d like to think that in a past life, I was a Viking (an early 9th century one, no doubt). I may have been a skald, writing eddic verses to sing in mead halls, perhaps contributing to the fabled Norse poems. Maybe I carved this:

Their mythology alone is fascinating. The Æsir (the principal gods) and Vanir (lesser known gods) and the war that joined them into a single pantheon, the jötunn (giant nature spirits), the álfar (elves), and dvergr (dwarves), and their respective homelands—Asgard and Vanaheim, Jötunheim, Álfheim, Svartálfaheim, and Midgard for us humans. And also, Hel, the land of the dead, and the two primordial realms, Niflheim and Muspellsheim, the lands of Ice and Fire, respectively.

Maybe I’m just a geek, but I can’t help but want to experience that world, a culture so utterly complex, yet outwardly primitive. The Vikings were intelligent, religious, battle-hardened, and fierce in every way. I can’t help but respect that. They fascinate me. I hope that we continue to find artifacts from their time and continue to learn about their culture. They are a part of our ancestry after all.

Is there a culture or time period that you are obsessed with? If you could live in any age in history, when would you live? What would you do?


  1. Obsessed with Scottish history, culture, food, language? Why yes, yes indeed. I get shivers looking at photos. I like making pretty much anything any everything from scratch, including home items, clothes, food, you name it--I think I'd fit in perfectly, historically, with the survivalist, family oriented culture of several hundred years ago.
    This being said, Vikings rock.

  2. Ooh, I DO love Norse history and mythology! I'm also really, really REALLY into ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia, and Hindu mythology/history. Basically I love ancient cultures...period! Especially those that are different from what Europe grew out of; sorry to say it, but Greek and Roman mythology are the least interesting to me (history, on the other hand, is another matter...LOVE IT).

  3. Reece, your interests are spot on with mine! Other than Vikings, I love Persian history and mythology as well as everything Hindu. I think my biggest draw toward Persian mythology and history is the fact that there isn't a whole lot on the subject, at least not in Western education. The Persians are always viewed as the "bad" guys, the villains in the battles against the Greeks or Romans, and even the Egyptians. I mean, yeah, they did invade a lot of lands, but so did every great empire, even Rome. I think such nations should be admired and respected, not shunned aside as villains in favor of the Christian or White "heroes" they're often at odds with. I mean, the Crusades were probably more brutal and evil than anything the Persians ever did, but a lot of people don't see it that way. (If you haven't noticed, I have a great distaste for Western perception of history.)

  4. Too much of a Northern European Mongrel to pick one. I mostly lean toward Celt in its various forms but I am very attached to antibiotics and indoor plumbing so would not want to live back then. A time machine however....

    And the ability to not make egregious typos would help too.