Today we have a guest post from Bonds of Fenris author, S.J. Bell, here to speak about Norse mythology revolving around the story of Fenrir, the great wolf who would kill Odin, the king of the Norse pantheon. Please welcome S.J. Bell.
My book is called Bonds of Fenris, after the Norse myth of the wolf destined to devour the world. I often get asked if the story is about the wolf in question. The short answer is no; the title is mostly symbolic. The myth is one of my favorites, though, and has implications that are a lot deeper than many people think. Fenris, (or Fenrir, depending on how you translate it), was the son of the trickster god Loki. Once a friend of the gods, Loki had turned against them and engineered the death of Odin's son Baldur. In retribution, the gods locked Loki up. Afterwards, they became wary of Fenris, who had made his home in the woods. They consulted a prophet and received a dire warning: Fenris would kill and devour Odin, the king of the Norse pantheon. Some of the gods suggested killing Fenris, but that was impossible. The woods he lived in were sacred, and spilling blood there would be a grievous crime. Instead, they tricked the wolf into letting himself be bound with chains to test his strength. When Fenris couldn't break his chains, the gods gagged him with a sword and left him there. They knew, however, that this wouldn't change anything, because in Norse mythology destiny is absolute. And so it's said that at Ragnarok, the great battle that would end the world, Fenris would break free and take revenge on Odin for his imprisonment. On the surface, it's your typical folk story. Big bad monster defeated by trickery. The complexity shows up when you try to figure out what exactly makes Fenris the big bad monster. When we first meet him, Fenris is just doing what a wolf does normally. Yes, I imagine the peaceful herbivores he preyed upon weren't too fond of him. But that's not his fault. It's the way of the world. All creatures consume others to survive. And Fenris doesn't seem to pose a threat to the gods. In fact, his interactions with them are quite civil up until the point that they stick a sword in his mouth. All societies create gods and demons in their own image. Or, more accurately, in the image of their worldview. In the middle ages, the myth of Fenris probably had a much different connotation than it does today. Fenris was a force of nature in a time when nature was a threat to people: the famine that brought starvation, the great storm that sunk the trading ships, the harsh winter when your neighbors froze to death. But all societies also re-invent and re-interpret the myths of their predecessors. To our parents, Dracula was a villain. But his spiritual descendents are sensitive individuals struggling with their afflictions, or embracing it in an ethical and responsible manner. Our ancestors created monsters. We took those monsters and humanize them.