Wednesday, 7 December 2011
Guest post by Coral Moore: Werewolves in Mythology
Shapeshifter Brand Geirson was raised to rule the Broods of Fenrir, but he refused his birthright. Instead, he killed their brutal leader–his own father–and walked away. For hundreds of years he’s avoided brood society, until a werewolf kills an innocent human woman and Brand finds himself dragged back into the violent politics of the shapeshifters. When the two brood women who mean the most to him come under threat, he must take up the throne and risk becoming the kind of vicious bastard his father was, or let the broods descend further into chaos–taking the friend he swore to protect and his lover with them.
Now, I'll let Coral tell you about the influence of mythology on her werewolves.
Mythology is one of my favorite subjects. We can learn so much about our past by understanding the deities that long-dead civilizations worshipped. For me, Scandinavian myths in particular are fascinating. There’s something visceral about the Norse deities that makes them more human and at the same time more fearsome than other gods of the ancient world.
As some of the world’s oldest storytelling, folklore and mythology are all but indistinguishable. Many of the monsters that scare us even now have their origins in the stories surrounding Ra, or Ares, or Odin. Shapeshifters have varied roots, sprouting from the fertile imaginations of many of the ancient cultures at nearly the same time. A man who becomes an animal, or takes on the qualities of a beast either physically or mentally, is a frequently visited topic.
In Norse stories, Berserkers fought with furious intensity that bordered on madness. Though they never actually became animals, they wore bear pelts and were purported to drink the blood of their foes. Another group of warriors, called the Úlfhéðnar (oolf-head-narr for those brave enough to try saying it aloud), wore the pelts of wolves and would press their attack together, like a pack. These elite warriors were said to be stronger than normal men and quite literally without fear.
Now, for a girl like me, that starts the brain churning in all sorts of cool directions. What started out as a casual interest in the history of werewolves turned into a full-fledged craving for Skaldic stories and poems revolving around wolves. After many hours reading about Norse culture and myths the eventual origin story I worked out goes a little something like this:
A species of werewolves was enslaved by the pre-Viking barbarians that inhabited Northern Europe. These slaves were used as shock troops, sent into battle first to scare their enemies with the savagery and power of their onslaught. To increase their utility, the werewolves were selectively bred to enhance aggression and all remnants of what they had been vanished amid generations of bloodlust. Over time they became a more brutal offshoot of Norse culture, worshipping their own subset of the Norse pantheon. They imagined that Fenrir, the monstrous wolf prophesized to bring about the end of the world by killing Odin, was their direct ancestor and had blessed them with their ability to change form.
The werewolves you will meet in Broods of Fenrir are the descendants of these slaves. In many ways, once they escape from captivity their culture becomes stuck in its primitive state. With lives many times longer than humans, they are unable to change due to a combination of self-imposed isolation and a lack of understanding that the way of life they cling to is not truly theirs.
If you’re interested in talking about mythology or werewolves find me on twitter or stop by my website and say hello.
Buy links for Broods of Fenrir (Read an excerpt):
Amazon (UK Version)
Barnes & Noble