I have the pleasure of welcoming M. D. Lachlan to the blog this morning! The first book in his new series, Wolfsangel, was just released this past May. The next installment titled Fenrir is due out on July 21st. Given the theme of this series, I figured M. D. would be the ideal candidate to tell us about my favorite Norse myth: Fenrir, the monstrous wolf. M. D. the floor is yours!
The myth of the Fenris wolf shows all the typical characteristics of Norse Myth. At one level it’s an almost cartoonish story involving boasting, tests of strength and pretty insane bravery. On another it’s something much darker – a story of mutilation, of deception, torture and, ultimately, death.
The trickster god Loki has three children – the Midgard Serpent, Hel, the goddess of the underworld and the wolf Fenrir.
The first two are cast out but the gods raise the wolf with them – why it’s never made clear.
Only Tyr, the God of War, is brave enough to feed the animal. However, the wolf grows very quickly and the gods become afraid of it. A prophecy tells them it will cause Odin’s – the chief of the gods – death. It’s their guest so it would be dishonourable to kill it but they decide to fetter it.
One of the more comic aspects of the myth is that the gods actually talk to the wolf to goad it into testing its strength. They present him with two fetters, both of which he snaps. The wolf comes over a slightly cynical, down to earth sort of personality. When they present him with the third fetter – a magical ribbon made by the dwarfs, he says ‘It’s so slender I’d win no fame for snapping it. If it’s made with cunning and magic then you can keep it. I’m not having it round my legs.’
As security that the gods will let the wolf go if he fails to break the fetter then the god Tyr agrees to put his hand into the wolf’s mouth so he can bite it off if he isn’t released. The wolf fails to break the fetter, the gods laugh and Tyr has his hand bitten off. The gods laugh at that too. Then they ram a sword into the wolf’s jaws, pinning them open. The wolf lies, fettered, howling and groaning. A river of saliva runs from his jaws – it’s called Von, the river of expectation. The wolf will be bound until Ragnarok – the gods’ final day. Then he will break free to kill Odin and end the age of the old mad, corrupt gods.
The myth gives an interesting insight into the Norse mind. Odin knows the wolf will kill him but he makes no effort to have it killed because that would be dishonourable. Better to die than to blacken your name. Also, destinies are set. Nothing that individuals can do will alter the fates that the Norns – the Norse embodiments of fate – spin for them. This, I think is what gives the myths their darker aspect and makes them particularly chilling to modern readers raised on ideas that an individual carves their own fate.
It’s also what made the Vikings such formidable opponents in battle. A Viking warrior believes his death day is predestined. How, then, can he be afraid when going into a fight? If he is fated to die that day he will, and hiding from his oponents’ swords will not prevent it. Better, then, to go grinning to face your enemies than to turn your back and run away.
MD Lachlan is a pen name – created after Mark Barrowcliffe, author of works such as Girlfriend 44 and Lucky Dog, felt himself irresistibly drawn back to fantasy after writing his Dungeons and Dragons memoir The Elfish Gene.
Wolfsangel might surprise readers of Mark’s other work. He’s always been noted for his comic writing (‘Wickedly funny’ – New York Post, ‘Painfully funny’ – The Bookseller) but Wolfsangel marks a sharp departure of content and style.
The book is a historical fantasy/horror hybrid that reflects Mark’s childhood reading on the occult and witchcraft. ‘If it makes you laugh, I’ve done something wrong’ says Mark.
The MD in MD Lachlan stands for Mark Daniel – Mark’s real name. He went with initials instead of a name because, as so often in his life, he didn’t really think things through. Now he attends publishing events where people don’t know what to call him. He wishes he’d gone with Mark Lachlan but it’s too late now.
The comic Steve Martin was once told by Johnny Carson ‘You will use everything you know’. Wolfsangel, for Mark, bears that out.
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Tomorrow’s festivities: Interview with Greg van Eekhout + a giveaway!
About the Blogger
I review Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance books with a focus all things werewolf. Based out of Ottawa, Canada