"Writing a book is the art of listening to oneself."-Brad Cameron

Thursday, August 8, 2013

The Viking Influence

It has been a wonderful summer. The weather has been warm and pleasant and my days away from the classroom have been dotted with scattered book signings in bookstores and at renaissance fairs and festivals. My summer has also been marked with a remarkable tour of the British Isles. During my two-week sojourn, I had the opportunity to visit many historic and pastoral locations in England, Ireland, and Scotland as well as a brief stopover in Paris. I was particularly amazed by the beauty of Ireland and Scotland, but most importantly, I was impressed by the deeply ingrained history of these locations. I marveled at the fact that I could enter a building that was over a thousand years old, one that was still being used. I often consider the idea that here, in the Pacific Northwest, we have nothing that even comes close to that. Occasionally, while I’m out riding my bicycle in the rural areas near my home I’ll come across a farm that has a sign marking it as a century old establishment, but that’s about as close as we come. I was also impressed by the varied influences that still exist in these countries from past conquerors, from the Romans all the way back to the Vikings, whose first recorded raid on the Celtic inhabitants occurred somewhere around 793 AD. Many of the tour guides that I met during my travels seemed to perk up when they began retelling the tales that included the ferocious manner of these attackers from the far north. The way they swept into peaceful communities completely unannounced and left nothing behind them in their wake, appeared to set the stage for a land that would witness carnage and supremacy for control for the next one thousand years. The Vikings, it seems, were among the first to set the stage for the nation’s bloody history.

It is perhaps a morbid curiosity of my own that draws me to the study and appreciation for the Vikings. In book three of The Zeke Proper Chronicles, The Gates of Asgard, I do a lot of retelling of the old myths. I have spent many hours perusing the stories. In doing so I believe I have identified the relationship between the real lives of the Norseman to his myths. Within the stories I can see the spirit and confidence of the Viking, his boundless curiosity, extreme bravery, clannish loyalty, generosity and discipline. However, I also see the arrogance and lack of compassion, his treachery, ruthlessness and his cruelty, a fact that is embodied in the figure of Loki, a character that is portrayed prominently in both books two and three of The Zeke Proper Chronicles.

So many of us are familiar with the tales of the Greek and Roman gods, but amazingly, we are mostly unfamiliar with Norse myth. What I have discovered on my journey to the British Isles is that the Viking is in fact a part of my own tradition and anyone else whose ancestors hail from the old country. The myths are part of our folklore, too, and we should be no less familiar with them than with the classical myths. The Norse myths speak for a dynamic culture and they speak of human longings and mysteries. So, allow yourself some time to explore The Zeke Proper Chronicles and let them speak for themselves.

1 comment:

  1. Wow! That one gave me goose bumps! Awesome post! Now....more pictures...