Mark Neumayer

author of the Valda & the Valkyries series

Viking Movies

The Vikings with Kirk Douglas

The Vikings with Kirk Douglas

I was in the mood for watching a Viking movie and stumbled across this list . I could share with you some of what they say but instead – just give them a visit. The list is well-written, funny and intelligent. Highly recommended.

The Vikings of Bjornstad‘s List of The Top Ten Viking Movies

Draugr are coming!

Draugr are the Norse version of the undead. (They play a rather prominent role in my third book Valda Goes Through Hel.) I’m surprised the draugr don’t receive more attention. With the success of Walking Dead and all things zombie it seems a natural, but that is starting to change. Case in point – Swedish film makers Karin Engman and Klas Persson are starting work on a film called Draug. It has a way to go before it reaches theaters but the sizzle reel looks like they got the creepy part of the myth done right.

Discovered via Dread Central

Five Mighty Women from Norse Mythology

Women had a large degree of freedom during the Viking Age, especially when compared to their European contemporaries. So it comes as no surprise that the sagas and legends feature some powerful females.  There are a lot to choose from. Which of them top the list when it comes to power? Here are my choices:

Ludwig Pietsch [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Ludwig Pietsch [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


When Baldr died, the Norse gods needed to launch his ship Hringhorni to use it as a funeral pyre. There was just one problem – Hringhorni was the largest ship in the Nine Worlds and no one was able to make it budge. So the gods sent to Jotunheim, the land of the giants. They summoned one particular giantess called Hyrrokin (her names means Smoke-Withered or Fire-Stained.) Hyrrokin knew how to make an entrance. She arrived riding on top of a wolf, using a bridle made out of twisted snakes!  The wolf was so tough that it took four beserkers to hold it down.

Was Hyrrokin able to move the ship? She walked over to it and gave it a single push. The movement was so intense that “fire sparkled from the rollers, and the earth shook all around.” That is one strong woman!

Elli Wrestling Thor from Ars Poetica

Elli Wrestling Thor from Ars Poetica


When Thor, Loki and Thjálfi visited the hall of the giant Utgard-Loki. The giant sets each of his visitors a challenge. Thor ends up with three challenges (He is Thor, after all.) For his third challenge he announces that he will wrestle any one in the hall. Utgard-Loki says that since Thor is kind of small he can wrestle one of the nurses – Elli. An old woman shuffles up and the wrestling match begins. As hard as Thor struggles, he can not move the giantess Elli. Thor tries and tries but not only can he not defeat the woman, she drives him back until Thor has one knee down on the ground.

Afterwards it is revealed that Elli is the personification of Old Age. Utgard-Loki marvels that Thor did so well because everyone eventually falls to Old Age.  Just look at the story of Idunn. goddess of youth. When she was kidnapped and taken away from Asgard the gods went into a panic as they began to turn withered and gray. Old age frightens even the gods, earning Elli her place on this list.


Freyja – detail from work by Scieth-Ailm


When warriors die in battle they are brought to their heavenly reward, but not all of them go to Valhalla. Half of the warriors go to Folkvang the hall of the goddess Freyja.  What makes this goddess so powerful that even Odin shares with her? Her anger once made  the halls of the gods shake. She is associated with love, sex, beauty, fertility, gold, magic, war, and death.  That is a pretty potent combination. The Prose Edda says that she is ranked second only to one other goddess – Frigg, but I Frigg seems to get more of her power from being the wife of Odin while Freyja earned my ranking all by herself


The Norns by Arthur Rackham

The Norns by Arthur Rackham

Urdr, Verdandi and Skuld

The Eddas refer to a race of Norns but the three most famous are Urdr (fate), Verdandi (happening or present) and Skuld (future). How do the sagas describe these three? We are told in Voluspa they are “Huge of might” and “mighty in wisdom.” The Norns are the weavers of Fate and even the gods are under their power and influence. One of the reasons why Odin travels so much is that he knows the fate which awaits the gods at Ragnarok. While he knows he can not escape that fate he travels and seeks knowledge to ease some of it’s consequences.

The Norns’ importance to Norse mythology is also represented by their role in taking care of the literal center of the universe – Yggdrasil, the World Tree that runs through each of the Nine Worlds. Each morning they draw water from the Well of Fate and create a soothing poultice that they apply to the bark of the World Tree to keep it healthy. They might not be able to lift massive ships or crack skulls in a fight but it is said that no one can fight the fate that Urdr, Verdandi and Skuld have woven for them.

Hel by Thalia Took

Hel by Thalia Took

Hel or Hela

There is not many people that scare the gods. There are not many that the gods have to ask for what they want instead of just taking it. Hela, the goddess of death, is at the top of both those lists. The gods of Norse mythology can and do die.  Hela has power over them all. As one of the three children of Loki and a giantess, she inspired so much fear and concern among the gods that she was cast into Nifleheim where she created great mansions to house the dead.

Brave warriors also fear Hela because her realm is filled with those who have died of sickness or in bed. If they are in her realm it is because they have died a “straw death” and were not worthy to earn a place in the heavens.  During Ragnarok Hela will send her legions of the dead to fight against the gods



I’ve only touched briefly on each of these powerful women. I hope I’ve piqued your interest enough to get you out there and reading more on your own. Be sure and drop me a comment if you have any other powerful females from Norse mythology that you feel deserve a mention.

World Tree Project

Check out this cool fundraising item from the World-Tree Project. They are building “an interactive digital archive for the teaching and study of Norse and Viking cultures.”  The link below will take you to there page where you can learn a lot more.

Jack Kirby’s Birthday


Portrait of the King found at

I can’t believe I did not know this before today, but Jack Kirby and I share the same birthday – August 28.  I have always loved his art from the minute I saw it staring out at me from those old spinner racks at the corner drugstore. I would happily plunk down my allowance to get his latest work on Fantastic Four, the Hulk and especially Thor.

Yeah, I’m late to the party this year but I do want to give a shout-out to an incredibly talented and influential artist.


Cover art from Tales of Asgard #1

Here we have the inked pencils for the first issue of Tales of Asgard. You might want to click through to see it large enough to do the piece justice.


Even though Odin would have never called it an “imperial bath” this scene could have happened. The Viking Answer Lady has a post that tells the story of an English cleric complaining about the men of the Danelaw combing their hair, bathing on Saturdays and generally making themselves look good so they could pick up more noble women.kirby

Viking Round Shield

I’ve been a bit under the weather and surfing a lot. I had to share this video where Dark Horse Industry Arts shows how they made a sweet-looking Viking round shield.

A quote from Geri

Geri quoteOdin has two wolves called Geri and Freki. When I made them characters in my first book I didn’t know how much fun it would be to write their dialogue. Here’s one of my favorite quotes from Geri.

Hulk Smash

Because sometimes I get an idea in my head and I have to make it before I can do anything else.hulk smash

Teaser revealed – Vinyl Stickers for sale

teaserThis is what I have sitting on my analog workspace right now. Vinyl stickers made from my original designs. I’ve started adding these to my Etsy shop. The raven is 4″ wide and the hammer is 4″ tall but I will be developing other sizes as I go along. Check them out and if there is something in particular that you are looking for, drop me a line and I’ll see what I can do.

Limited Time Free Book Offer

ValdaTBOpromoI am giving away the e-book edition of Trial By Ordeal, the first book in the Valda & the Valkyries series.

If you’re looking for a heart-warming story about a plucky heroine – this is it. If you’re looking for a light-hearted romp with the characters and creatures of Norse mythology – this is it. If you’re looking for an adventurous tale loved by boys and girls of all ages – this is it.

And for a short time it is my gift to you. Click here!

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