Mark Neumayer

author of the Valda & the Valkyries series

Tag: Valkyrie

smallVGTHI have a giveaway running now on Goodreads. Two signed print copies of my book Valda Goes Through Hel are up for grabs. You have until the end of the month to sign up for your chance to win. Contest is open to the US, Canada, Great Britain and Australia.

Valkyrie Art

Hey, it’s Thursday so it’s time to post some Norse-themed art. Once again, this is in a different style from some of the stuff I have posted before. I can’t help it. Like Whitman said “I contain multitudes.” Except in my case it appears to be multitudes of artists who can’t decide on one way to draw things.

This stylized valkyrie was part of the background on the original cover for my book Valda & the Valkyries. I decided to polish her up and give her the spotlight treatment today.

Dwarven Valkyries

Forgotten Realms female Dwarf concept art

Usually when I write about mythology on the blog I am using the sagas as my source material (the Prose and Poetic Eddas, most often.) So I can understand how people might get a bit confused after reading the promo copy for my book Valda & the Valkyries. The book is about the adventures of a 15 year old Dwarf girl who becomes a Valkyrie. I want to be upfront about this – the book is fiction. While it is based on Norse mythology and uses characters from the myths, I made up the story. Also, I have not read any sagas that mention Dwarves being Valkyries. And yet the idea that a Dwarf could become a Valkyrie is not as crazy as it seems at first.

Bear with me for a bit as I first talk about the Norns. The Norns were the magical entities who ruled over the destinies of god and man. We know the names of the three most prominent ones: Urd, Verdandi and Skuld. Their names roughly translate to “that which happened,” “that which is happening” and “that which should occur” or, to be more blunt: past, present and future. Henry Adams Bellows writes

In Vafthruthnismol, 49, the Norns (this time “three throngs” instead of simply “three”) are spoken of as giant-maidens.

This, and one of the passages in Voluspa, could lead us to believe that the Norns are Jotun, or giantesses. However that may be, we are also told specifically that there are more than three Norns. The three chief ones we have already mentioned determine the destinies of mankind, the others watch over an individual throughout their life in a role similar to the Christian concept of the guardian angel.

Going to Voluspa again we can read:

‘Methinks the Norns were born far asunder, for they are not of the same race. Some belong to the Æsir, some to the Elves, and some are Dvalin’s daughters.”

Dvalin was a famous dwarf, so Dvalin’s daughters would be a kenning for dvergar, or dwarves. So in this passage we learn that the lesser Norns could be any of several races, including the Dwarves.

Back to the Valkyries – as I wrote about in this article, human maidens could, under the right conditions,  become Valkyries. We also know that Skuld was a Valkyrie and a Norn and that she might have been a giantess. So while my conclusion is not official in any way, shape or form, it seems to me it isn’t that far-fetched to assume that a Dwarf, who we know could be a lesser Norn, could also become a Valkyrie. What do you think?

Posted by Mark Neumayer

I Put a 15-year-old Girl Through Hel

I did, it’s true. Although I’m not talking about cyber-bullying (Is there an app for that?) or even real-life bullying. No, this was more along the lines of making life miserable for the heroine of my second novel.

If you’ve been reading my other blog entries you know that I’m into writing books based on Norse mythology. I started out with Valda & the Valkyries. Now  I just finished the first draft of the second book in the series Valda Goes Through Hel. In this one I literally and figuratively put my spunky Dwarf heroine through Hel. She becomes aware of some troubling side-effects to being a Valkyrie, suffers the worst fate possible for a Dwarf, and has to lead a collection of scoundrels on a mission through Hel itself. For inspiration I followed pulp-writer Lester Dent’s advice:

Part one, hit your hero with a heap of trouble. Part two, double it. Part three, put him in so much trouble there’s no way he could ever possibly get out of it.

The manuscript is going out to my fantastic group of alpha readers now. I can’t say enough good things about how much I value their help. If you are a writer you know this already. Good alpha readers are a treasured commodity. Once I get their feedback and finish with the final edits I’ll be packaging it all together and getting it published as soon as possible.

Today’s image comes to us through wordle.net I plugged the text into their nifty tool and got back this fun word cloud. The larger the word, the more often it appears during the text. You can see Valda is front and center and Hrulfgar is back as well, but who or what are Draugr? You ‘ll have to check back next week to find out.

Posted by Mark Neumayer

Five Facts About the Valkyries

This entry is part 6 of 8 in the series Norse Mythology Quick Hits

By Berig at en.wikipedia [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons

For this week’s installment in my series on Norse mythology we’re going to cover the Valkyries. This is a subject that is near and dear to my heart. I did a lot of reading about the shield-maidens during the research for my book Valda & the Valkyries. Other religions might have beatific angels that play harps, the Norse would rather wield a weapon.

What’s in a Name, Part 1
Let’s start off with the word Valkyrie itself. It comes from Old Norse and means “chooser of the slain.” The Valkyries were assigned to fly over the battlefields, looking for the bravest warriors. They would swoop down and capture the souls of the bravest of the brave and bring them back to Asgard. There are some references to the Valkyries actually going  further than that and deciding who lives and who dies. (More on this in just a little bit.) They were also called Swan Maidens since they possessed magical cloaks that allowed them to transform themselves into these graceful birds.

The Ride of the Valkyries
Thanks to Wagner’s opera The Ring of the Nebilungs, this song has been immersed all over the place in popular culture. One of the more dramatic appearances was in the movie Apocalypse Now where the song is blasted out of loudspeakers that are strapped onto attacking helicopters. One detail that you might not know about the Valkyries is that in early times they didn’t ride horses – they rode wolves. While this doesn’t fit the image of Valkyries you see in famous paintings from the Romantic Period it is exactly what you could expect from the rough and ready Norse culture.

Don’t Stiff this Waitress
When the Einherjar warriors of Asgard were not fighting they were feasting and drinking. The Valkyrie were also called Cup-maidens, because it was their responsibility to serve the nightly mead to all of those thirsty warriors. We even have a Valkyrie named Ölrún, which roughly translates to “Ale rune” signifying a possible connection to the creation or serving of the nightly drinks.

What’s in a Name, Part 2
There are lists of names in the various eddas and other sagas. Valkyrie names tend towards the descriptive. This gives us names such as Geirdriful (spear-flinger,) Sanngriðr (very cruel,) and Brynhildr (bright battle.) The most common thread that you find running through the names is an association with either the spear, or with battle. We can find Norse examples that translate to: Spear-shaker, Noise-of-battle, Victory-urger, Sword-time and Axe-age.

The Fate of The Valkyries
The idea of Valkyries not just choosing from those who died in battle but choosing who will die in battle could be connected to one particular member of this band of warrior women – Skuld. Her name can be roughly translated as Future and not only is she a Valkyrie, she is also one of the Norns. As Wikipedia puts it so well, the Norns  “are female beings who rule the destiny of gods and men, a kind of dísir comparable to the Fates in Greek mythology.” So it makes sense that at least one particular Valkyrie could be choosing which warriors are not going to make it through the battle.

I hope you’re enjoying this series on Norse mythology. If there’s any subject you’d like to hear about, let me know and I’ll see what I can do. You can also check out the other entries in this series.

Five Odd Things in Norse Mythology

Five Foods of the Gods

Five Cool Creatures From Norse Mythology

Five Ways Dwarves Get No Respect

Five Magical Weapons from Norse Mythology

Loki’s Five Biggest Tricks

Posted by Mark Neumayer

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