Hi y’all! Today we have a guest post by Ian Stuart Sharpe regarding his reasons for choosing Norse mythology as the main inspiration behind his Vikingverse series. Check it out, it’s a great read! Thank you Outland Entertainment for approaching us, it’s an honor and we look forward to working with you in the future!
On the Shoulders of Jötnar
Ian Stuart Sharpe
“A myth or legend is simply not made up out of a vacuum. Nothing is -or can be. Somehow there is a kernel of truth behind it, however distorted that might be.”
—ISAAC ASIMOV, Foundation’s Edge
I read Asimov’s Foundation series long after they were published: the original trilogy of novels was originally a series of eight short stories published in Astounding Magazine between May 1942 and January 1950. According to Asimov, the premise was based on ideas set forth in Edward Gibbon’s History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire and was invented spontaneously on his way to meet with editor John W. Campbell.
But that central notion – that all myth is just a distorted version of the truth – stuck with me for years afterwards. History is written by the victors, and we demonize the vanquished. And given that thought, I always wanted to write stories with Norse mythology as my own foundation, if you’ll excuse the pun – to tell the stories of an imagined world where the Vikings won.
You have heard of Odin, the wind god, the war god, the god of death and of poets, worshipped by rulers across the Viking Age, yet cursed for being a sorcerer and a shapeshifter. He’s mentioned by the Roman historian Tacitus, cited as a founder of Old English and Scandinavian royalty. Some people think he is the likely point of origin for the legends of Santa Claus. And he’s not done yet: there is a resurgence in adherents to Odin’s ancient teachings, Iceland’s first pagan temple in 1000 years ready in late 2018.
Among the 170 plus names he is given in the Old Norse record, the most famous is that of Alföðr, the All Father. Odin is the Granddaddy of them all, and since he was ousted from his throne by upstart Christians and Marvel comic book writers, he had been dressed up in a whole new modern mythology. He even has his own TV show, American Gods on Starz.
After all this historical revisionism, you might imagine he has an axe to grind. Well, spear to throw – a common way for warriors to secure his favour was to throw a spear over one’s foes, sacrificing them to the god with the cry, Óðinn á yðr alla or “Odin owns ye all!”
My idea for the Vikingverse, and titles like The All Father Paradox and the Jötunn War was similar to the Foundation series. I wanted to tell the story of an Empire and show the sweep of history. I knew I wanted to explore the Medieval struggle between Christian and Norse and how it might have played out. It quickly became apparent that I couldn’t just write an alternate history by throwing a few new dates on the calendar or making sure map boundaries were redrawn. A credible, authentic world needed more than that – it needed a new language. It needed a central truth, shorn of the distortion of our modern viewpoint.
Or rather, a very old one…one where Odin does, indeed, own you all.
One of the underlying premises of the series is that Christianity is put to the Viking sword. It follows then, that if the ubiquity of the medieval Roman Catholic Church receded, then so would the influence of Latin. When taken to its logical conclusion, this reduction of Latin as a building block would radically affect the way the English language developed. The Germanic components, specifically the Dǫnsk tunga (“Danish tongue”) or the Norrœnt mál (“Norse speech”) would come to the fore. And so – as the book jacket says – the storied heroes of mankind emerge in new and brutal guises drawn from the sagas. Old Norse becomes the new norm.
And so, as we fight through the pages of my altered Vikingverse timeline, many of the characters might seem strangely familiar. Reflected in the cracked mirror of a parallel universe, names have subtly changed. For example, Alviss Presterleah is the Rock and Roll legend, Elvis. Aðalbriktr Einnsteinen is none other than Albert Einstein.
Now, while I have been writing, I have avoided the sagas, especially modern renditions like Neil Gaiman’s Norse Mythology. The only exception was the Völuspá, which I used as something of a framing device and referred to often, and the Heimskringla which helped set the tone for its Vikingverse counterpart.
That’s not to say the sagas aren’t infused throughout the story – in fact, they are very much part of the DNA. In the Jötunn War comic, what we know as Norse mythology becomes much more than a set of stories: it becomes a creed, a way of life, a means of control. And when social revolution comes to the thralls of the Empire, what better way to demonize your opponents than to tap into the racial memory. All that ancient, long suppressed fear. Take those “outside looking in” and turn them stuff of Norse nightmares: the Jötnar.
Title: The Jötunn War
Author: Ian Stuart Sharpe
Publisher: Outland Entertainment
About The Jötunn War
A war as old as time, where fate itself hangs in the balance. In the Vikingverse, the Norse rule the stars with restless fleets and an iron will. But when the thralls rebel, turning to the artifice of Norns to help them escape their bondage, the Natural order is thrown into chaos. The Jötunn War has been fought across the Nine Homeworlds to contain the threat, a battle against the stuff of ancient nightmares, red in tooth and claw, Jötunheim is the rebellion’s last redoubt, an indignity the Empire plans to cleanse with flame and fury. The Jötunn War. Go big or go home in a body bag.
Ian Stuart Sharpe was born in London, UK, and now lives in British Columbia, Canada. Having worked for the BBC, IMG, Atari and Electronic Arts, he is now CEO of a tech start up. As a child he discovered his love of books, sci-fi and sagas: devouring the works of Douglas Adams, J.R.R. Tolkien, Terry Pratchett and George MacDonald Fraser alongside Snorri Sturluson and Sigvat the Skald. He once won a prize at school for Outstanding Progress and chose a dictionary as his reward, secretly wishing it had been an Old Norse phrasebook. The All Father Paradox is his first novel.
About Outland Entertainment
Outland Entertainment was founded as a creative services company in 2008 by Jeremy Mohler. Since then, Outland has worked for a wide variety of clients across the world. Outland specializes in assembling creative teams and managing projects. Contact them via their site form or go to www.outlandentertainment.com.