Monday, October 19, 2015

The Dream That Sparked the End

Frigga, from Marvel's Thor
Last week we ended with dragons.

This week, we're going to pick up a small stepping stone in between us and the legend of the dragon by focusing on the legends that necessitated having a dragon. If you missed last week, I shared some of the inspiration behind the setting for my upcoming novella, When Ravens Fall. With nine Norse worlds to choose from, it was very difficult for me to choose just one but you can read a little bit about why I chose the Niflheim on my previous post.

Today I'm going to share the first part of a series on the character legends that inspired my story. As I mentioned before, nearly all of my characters were inspired directly by Norse characters, but there is one character--a very important character--who was inspired by a "type" rather than a specific person. Kenna, the Enchantress in this Beauty and the Beast mash up, was inspired by the volva. These women were the wise women, the seers, the magic wielders in many of the old myths. In my story, I refer to them as Bone Women. The volva were also known as fjölkunnig which means "plenty of knowing." Kenna's name actually means "knowledge," so although she is purely a fictional character, I took care to ensure she still has important ties to the myths.

Before we continue on with the Bone Women, I want to take a brief detour and mention two minor characters in my story who have close ties to Kenna: Odin's Ravens, Hugin and Munin. Oh my goodness, I love these two! Hugin "thought" and Munin "memory or desire" were Odin's sidekicks. They traveled the world gathering news for the King. I chose to develop their personalities around the meaning of their names, which created an interesting dynamic between them, two sides of the same coin. I also chose to make them brothers, as I have a fondness for brothers. I have so many of them, can you blame me? As to HOW these two are similar to Kenna, I'm going to leave that for the story to explain. I don't want to spoil the read. 

Back on topic! While there are several Bone Women in my story, the most important one is a woman named Frigg. Frigg, in the ancient myths, is one of Odin's wives and the mother of Baldr, whose spelling I changed to Baldur for ease of reading. Like the Greek myths, the Norse gods were not exactly known for their fidelity. Odin had at least two wives, that I have found, Frigg and Freyja. However, since both women were known for many of the same things, I chose to mash them into one person and avoid the polygamy thing altogether. (Really not a fan anyway). There was some debate in the different sites I visited about whether Frigg and Freyja might even be one person, since they were so similar. While I chose to follow the story line associated with Frigg, her personality is probably closer to that of Freyja, who was also the goddess of war and death. I also chose to keep Frigg's name because I liked how short and punchy it sounded, while Freyja seemed more of a gentle, pretty name.

The legend of Frigg is rather a tragic one. Gifted with prophetic dreams, Frigg foresees the death of her son, Baldur, at Ragnarok, the Norse equivelant of Armageddon. It is also suggested that Baldur shared these premonitions. In order to prevent his fate, Frigg exacts a promise from all living things on earth that none of them will harm her son. However, she neglects the mistletoe because she feels it is too young to take such a grave vow. This proves to be her undoing, because Loki gets wind of this oversight and uses mistletoe to murder Baldur at Ragnarok.


Sadly, Loki had no place in my story so his angle in the legend (and the mistletoe's) was completely ignored. However, many of the other aspects of the legend tied in so well with the Beauty and the Beast story line. Rarely does a mashup blend so well, with so little effort. It amazed me how naturally the plot fell into place, once I determined Frigg and Baldur would be the driving force behind the tale.

I also would have loved to explore the concept of Ragnarok, but this would have required a story of epic proportions, something I could not even consider in a short novel like When Ravens Fall. Perhaps someday I can come back to this idea, but sadly not today. Since I could not use Ragnarok as the "symbol" for Baldur's impending death, I needed to come up with something else to threaten him, to haunt his dreams and threaten the destiny he would have chosen for himself.

That's where the dragon comes in.

Apologies. You will have to wait for Part Two to find out the rest.

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