Mark Neumayer

author of the Valda & the Valkyries series

Author: markaneu (page 1 of 17)

Sale in my store.

There is a promotion running from now through Sunday April 9th. You get 20% off and free shipping on any of the items from my Society6 shop. There are a number of Norse influenced designs and some fun kawaii stuff.

Be sure to click the pictrue or the link up above so you don’t miss out on the savings!

At the Speed of Light (scifi book review)

Let’s start off by stating I received a free copy of this book to review and I’ll be handing out some spoilers down below..

There is some good writing and some interesting ideas in this novella by Simon Morden, but ultimately the overall experience left me feeling unsatisfied for a number of reasons.

The story starts with the main character waking up not knowing who or where they are. This is such an overused opening that most every book on writing tells you to avoid it. Usually an author does this as a vehicle to explain everything. That is not the case here because the main character is popping back and forth between two different realities while struggling to decide which of them is “real.” As you work your way through this and try to solve the problem with him you then discover it doesn’t matter – neither reality is real. No, wait. They kind of were both true but not really. Confusing? Yes, it is. I almost stopped reading at this point.

So we have shifted into the actual reality of the book now. The events of the beginning were actually the dreams of an A.I. Now that the dreams are over we shift into a more cold calculating person for the MC. The whole tone of the book shifts. It feels like two different stories cut apart and Frankensteined together. There is an explanation further along that lays out the reasons for why this all happened but, while it makes some logical sense, it stills doesn’t flow as a story should.

There are a number of typos in the book. Something this short should not have a half dozen mistakes in it.

Finally, the story ends on a cliffhanger. While I would have been interested enough to read on to another chapter, I wasn’t engaged enough that I will hunt down more of the series. (I am assuming this is a novella released as a sort of prequel.}

Ultimately, all of this added up to leaving me with a general feeling of dissatisfaction and no desire to seek out more of the story.

5 Artists Rocking it with Dwarfs

You folks know I love Dwarfs and I love art so here’s is a post of 5 artists who are rocking the Dwarven world. They are done in a number of different styles. These just happen to be some of the folks who have posted stuff that has caught my eye lately.  Let’s have at it (in no particular order.)

1. Moh Z. Mukta

This is just a work in progress but it already has a ton of visual impact.  So much going on that just brings the eyes right to the center of the page: the blur on the outer areas; the lighting; the color values. Also has some great use of texture.

2. Alexis Dumortier

Something about this picture was just speaking to me. Maybe it’s because I’d love to have a couple dozen of these printed up in plastic so I could paint them.  It’s interesting how simple shapes can capture so much character.

3. Cwalton73

Check out this artist’s work for a ton of male and female Dwarfs. They have some nice linework and a ton of detail in their work.

Dwarf Guard

 

4. Conorburkeart

Nice atmospheric work with this one and he made some great choices with the color palette.

Dwarf army

 

5. Carlos Ancot

Here we have a ton of personality coming through. This is definitely a rugged female Dwarf, yet she still has a feminine quality about her.

Female Dwarf

 

Do you have any favorite artists you want to share? Give them a shout-out in the comments.

 

Dwarf on the Wharf


I’ve been seeing entirely too much of those beardless, spying elves all over the place. It is high time we started celebrating the much cooler, less privacy invading hero that we all deserve – The Dwarf on the Wharf!

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

This entry is part 2 of 8 in the series Norse Mythology Quick Hits

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

Hyrrokin

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

Elli

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-scieth

Freyja – detail from work by Scieth-Ailm

Freyja

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

 

Summary

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

jack_kirby01_super

Portrait of the King found at Buzzdixon.com

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.

kirby2

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.

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