For me, escaping into ancient stories of Greek, Roman, and Norse deities was the only way to spend a decent hour in study hall, considering the library never seemed to carry the romances I wanted to read. Ancient civilizations always had a story to explain certain truths. Want to know why the seasons change? Ask Hades or Persephone, who has to spend 6 months of every year in the underworld. Ever wondered about the sun? Ask Sol, Helios, or Apollo. That lightning that strikes during a thunderstorm? Thank Odin, the father of the Norse gods.
Too bad I wasn’t the first one to combine mythology and romance, because it’s a terrific combination. The first story I read that revolved around gods and men was written by Sherrilyn Kenyon in one of her Dark Hunter books. Terrific fun and totally up my alley. Since then, there have been dozens upon dozens of books incorporating ancient gods into tales of love and adventure.
One group of gods that, in my opinion, hasn’t gotten much attention, are the Norse. Sure, they’re great when you want to talk Vikings or Valkyries (female warriors of Odin), but where the heck is Balder, Frigg, or Heimdall? How about the Vanir? We always hear about the Aesir—the warrior gods. But the Vanir, the fertility gods, lend themselves better to romance considering they’re all about propagation.
Like the Greeks and Romans, the Norse gods have foibles and flaws, much like men. They are jealous, loving, and spiteful. And most importantly, they’re not immortal. The gods come and the gods go, and at the end of the world, a new group of gods will take over for those who die in battle.
I thought I’d share a little bit about Norse mythology, just for fun.
Yggdrasil—the world tree, which connects the nine worlds of existence, separated into three levels
Midgard—where people live on the middle level
Asgard—where some of the gods live on the highest level
Niflheim—the lowest level, covered in ice, where Hel reigns. It’s also where those who don’t die in battle go
Bifrost—the rainbow bridge connecting Asgard to Midgard
Odin—Father of the gods
Frigg—Odin’s wife, Mother of the gods
Sleipnir—Odin’s eight-legged horse
Loki—the son of fire giants, sworn brother to Odin and sometime friend. Known as the Trickster
Sigyn—Loki’s wife, unshakable in her loyalty and fidelity
Angrboda—Loki’s mistress, a Giantess, who gave birth to three monstrous children who will help take the world apart at the end: Fenrir, Jormungand, and Hel
Fenrir—the wolf, Loki’s son
Jormungand—the serpent destined to destroy Thor. He's also Loki's son.
Hel—Loki’s daughter. Her top half is that of a beautiful woman, the bottom that of a rotting corpse. She’s queen of the dead in Niflheim
Thor—Odin’s eldest son, the Thunder god. He carries mjollnir, his famous hammer
Balder—the son of Odin and Frigg, beloved by everyone. Killed by his blind brother due to Loki’s trickery, his death will trigger the end of the world (Ragnarok)
Heimdall—the son of nine maidens, guardian of Bifrost (the rainbow bridge). He is watchman of the gods.
Ragnarok—the Doom of the gods and the end of the worlds as we know it.
I could go on and on, but that’s just a snippet of what I worked with when I wrote my story for Carina. I can’t get enough of the gods, and that’s not even the Greeks or Romans. Not to mention all the other cultures out there with fascinating mythology. And now I’d better stop and get to work. Because if I’m not careful, I’ll get swept away by stories of the past.
NOTE: If you’re curious, a great reference is Bulfinch’s Mythology, which covers Greek, Roman, Scandinavian, Oriental, and Celtic mythology.