In Norse mythology, there was a very specialized version of a zombie called a Draugr. Draugr were undead warriors who lived in their graves and guarded treasure. However, because they used to be warriors in life, I often wonder what an army of Draugr would be capable of. Throughout my third fantasy book, the Imperial Dynasty will be engaging in a form of mystical imperialism in an attempt to further consolidate their power over the empire. They would do this by uncovering long forgotten secrets in magic. One of those secrets will involve turning a mass grave of fallen warriors into an unstoppable army of Draugr. However, because of their nature, this Draugr army can only be deployed as a last resort when the Imperial Crown is most at risk. I looking forward to elaborating on this further as I continue to write.
I discovered a very deep Anglo-Saxon poem called The Wanderer. It talks about a warrior who lived a happy life before being exiled. J. R. R. Tolkein drew inspiration from this poem while writing the culture of Rohan. The poem goes as such:
‘Hwaer cwom mearg, hwaer cwom mago? Hwaer cwom maþþumgyfa? Hwaer cwom symbla gesetu? Hwaer sindon seledreamas? Eala beorht bune, eala byrnwiga, eala theodnes þrym! Hu seo þrag gewat, Genap under nihthelm, swa heo no waere!’
Translates as this into modern English, with a rough approximation:
‘Whither has gone the horse, whither the man? Where now is the giver of treasure? Where are the palaces of the feast, where are the pleasures of the hall? Alas for the glittering goblet! Alas for the girt warrior! Alas for the princes power! How those days have departed, Darkened under night’s shadow, as if they had never been!’
I am thinking of following Tolkein’s lead and draw inspiration from this poem in order to better describe the mindset of the hero in my spin-off fantasy series.
Norse and Germanic mythology is overflowing with great legends and stories that have lasted right up to the present day. Among those legends was the tale of the hero Sigurd, who slew the dragon Fafnir and claimed the beast’s treasure. After slaying the dragon, Sigurd bathed in its blood, which made his skin impenetrable with the exception of a weak spot on his back. Another story is of the All Father of the Norse Gods, Odin, who sacrificed one of his eyes in order to gain wisdom. A third legend regards Tyr, the Norse God of War, who lost a hand while fighting the demon wolf Fenrir. Even though these features have been included in heroes and gods, I am thinking of making them the features and characteristics of the main villain of my spin-off fantasy trilogy.
I discovered something interesting about the mythology of my Viking ancestors. On the eve of Ragnarök, there was a brutal winter that lasted three grueling years. This winter was called the Fimbulwinter, which means “Great Winter” in Norse. It caused a massive loss of life and was followed by countless wars. After these wars were finally over, the Twilight of the Gods began and the world was remade forever. I am thinking of including a similar winter in my spin-off fantasy trilogy that will set the stage for the beginning of the story.
One of the most iconic creatures of Norse mythology would be the World Serpent. According to legend, the World Serpent was so enormous that it could enveloped all the seas of the world. It was rumored to be the only creature that was big and powerful enough to fight Thor on even footing. As it slept in the ocean, the World Serpent would constantly bite on its own tail to hold the world together. This became one of the symbols for Ouroboros, which was seen as another way of representing infinity. Once the World Serpent let go of its own tail, Ragnarok, the dreaded Twilight of the Gods, would begin. For my spin-off fantasy trilogy, I will be featuring a colossal serpentine creature that will be based on the legend of the World Serpent. This behemoth will be the size of Titanoboa, which was the largest snake ever recorded and was big enough to feed on dinosaurs. In addition, this beast will have combined features from a black mamba, king cobra, anaconda, and rattlesnake. It is going to be the king and god of all snakes and I cannot wait to write about it!
I had an epiphany for my spin-off fantasy trilogy. Considering how much I humanized the characters and setting, I think it is a little late for me to start introducing demons, dark lords, and other evils. The reason for this is because I created a human world where most magic and mythic creatures are gone. To introduce demons and dark lords at this stage would be contradictory to the continuity of Gradaia’s history and lore. Therefore, instead of demons and dark lords, my spin-off trilogy will portray Gradaia enduring an invasion from a foreign army from another previously unknown continent. Up until now, the people of Gradaia thought they were the only survivors of the fall of Homantis, but they will learn that they are not alone and their empire is not the only land in the known world.
I am thinking of basing this new conflict on the Viking invasions of Anglo-Saxon England during the Dark Ages as well as the Norman invasion of 1066 AD. When J. R. R. Tolkein created the kingdom of Rohan, he based them on the Anglo-Saxons yet made one significant modification of his own. In addition, to basing Rohan’s people and culture on the Anglo-Saxons, he made them a powerful cavalry force. The reason this is significant is because the real-life Anglo-Saxons were mainly an infantry army, which was one of the factors that led to their defeat at the hands of William the Conqueror. So Tolkein wanted to depict what the Anglo-Saxons could have been like if they had their own cavalry.
The Vikings were much the same way when it came to how they fought. They were mainly infantry and had little to no cavalry. Just as Tolkein did with the Anglo-Saxons, I will be tinkering with what the Vikings could have been like if they had their own cavalry. However, this new culture will have a much more balanced military when it comes to cavalry, archers, and infantry than Rohan did. Also, I will be watching documentaries that talk more about Viking history, culture, and mythology. This will enrich my medieval knowledge even further.
The apple has served many symbolic purposes such as being the forbidden fruit during the Adam and Eve story. In Norse mythology, my viking ancestors believed that the gods gained their divine power and immortality from golden apples. To keep with my viking roots, I will be drawing inspiration from the myth of the golden apple in future fantasy stories. Plus, I love to eat apples a lot!
In my second fantasy novel, at the end of every day of the wedding’s tournament, the great hall will provide over 70 course meals, all kinds of entertainment, and joyful people from all across the northern kingdoms. The entertainment will consist of jugglers, acrobats, as well as bards singing songs of the heroes of their respective kingdoms. There will be cauldrons of mead and countless barrels of wine. To give you a glimpse of the atmosphere of this medieval reception party, allow me to share this video from the 2007 version of Beowulf, which pretty much depicts how my ancestors threw a party.
My Viking and Anglo-Saxon ancestors tended to celebrate inside of mead halls, which were the precursors of great halls of medieval castles. To provide you with a more vivid picture of what the interior of Magnus Keep looks like in my fantasy series, the great hall would look like a mead hall where the king of Umbran would invite their barons and knights to celebrate multiple occasions. This mead/great hall will be prominently featured in my second fantasy book especially after it was renovated.
I saw an interesting film on Netflix called The Ritual. It is about four friends who venture into a forest in Sweden only to run into a group of pagans who worship a horrendous monster. This creature is said to be a bastard child of Loki, Norse God of Mischief. It is one of the most grotesque monsters I have ever seen, resembling a giant demonic elk and it had the most unusual head I have ever gazed upon (which is in the picture above). I must say that this is one of the most unholy interpretations of my ancestors’ gods I have ever seen. I loved the camaraderie the characters displayed in the film and the suspense was killing me. Because of its size and appearance, Loki’s bastard blended in with the trees, which leaves you constantly on the lookout and wondering where and when it will strike next. Overall, this was a scary and suspenseful film that leaves you at the edge of your seat.