Sunday, 9 January 2011

Rough Guides to Viking Historical Fiction and Norse Fantasy

Guide to Viking Historical Fiction

The main features of Viking Historical fiction novels are that they of course feature Vikings whether as the main character or as the enemy in some cases, they are set historically in the Dark or Early Medieval ages in a range of countries influenced by Vikings so it’s not just primarily England but also Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Iceland, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Greenland, even the far east around Istanbul (formerly known as Constantinople) can feature and of course the characters and adventures may be fictional but the true beauty of this genre is that quite often these things intertwine with genuine, real, fact historical events such as the battle of Stanford Bridge in 1066, the discovery of Iceland and Greenland or even the presence of Norse warriors in the old Holy Roman Empire as the Emperors guard. Most novels of this genre primarily feature a group of Viking warriors who are raiders so it allows the reader to follow them in their encounters in different countries and experience how they interacted with different cultures, not just in battles but also as traders. The characters are usually male but some strong female characters can appear but are never present through the whole book as the main characters are. Some characters from Old Norse sagas can appear such as Grettir the Strong in Iceland but also key historical figures can occur such as Harald Sigurdsson, Knut the Great or Guthrum before he was christened and renamed Athelstan. Time in these novels can vary; if it is a trilogy which most often is they can span from the beginning of the Viking era to its end in 1066 or be focused around the end. The time period that passes in the book can be a decade or so but usually in the height of the Viking era and usually around the time of the many great invasions of England.
These books do vary in audience as well some can be found for young adults/teenagers but the majority are also for adults due to the obvious brutal and bloody scenes which feature in such fiction.
Examples of Viking Historical Fiction are:
Raven Blood Eye by Giles Kristian
Odinn’s Child by Tim Severin
The Whale Road by Robert Low
Feasting the Wolves by Susan Price
The Last Kingdom by Bernard Cornwell
Wolf Cry by Julia Golding


Guide to Norse Fantasy

Norse Fantasy is primarily a fantasy novel but which heavily features elements, setting and characters as well as objects from Norse Mythology. The actual context of such novels is a wide variety from settings within the Dark Ages, set within the present day or even in an entirely new world of its own. Some novels of late have also featured Norse mythology in a Young Adult modern fantasy context and even in a futuristic context. Norse Fantasy novels can be either a retelling of an old Norse legend such as Freya and the necklace of Brisingamen or could be a whole new legend in itself or even portray who the gods of old survive in today’s modern secular world where such old beliefs are fading. The story can centre on the most common Norse Gods such as Odin, Thor, Loki or Freya, or even feature some of the lesser known mythological beings such as Valkyries, Giants and Dwarves. The story could also show how these gods interact with humans whether it’s set in the medieval past or the present day. Showing how they influence lives, history and fate.
These books can vary in audience range, some can be found for young adults/teenagers but some are also quite adult and deal with very mature, serious issues and have some very adult scenes in them.
Examples of Norse Fantasy are:
Runemarks by Joanne Harris
Iceland by Betsy Tobin
Odd and the Frost Giants by Neil Gaiman
American Gods by Neil Gaiman
Wolfsangel by M D Lachlan

1 comment:

  1. I enjoyed this. It's a great foundation for storytelling. Great job!

    ReplyDelete

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