Guest Blog: Georgie, Herald of Wickedness By F.T. McKinstry

Thank you, James!

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As part of my author guest blog series I am proud to present another guest blog spot.

Author F.T. McKinstry has been kind enough to write a guest blog post for Mighty Thor JRS today. I am very excited and I would like to thank Faith for the opportunity to host this Guest Blog.

Would you like to be a part of my author guest blog series? Please contact me! mightythorjrs@gmail.com

Now without further adieu here is Faith’s awesome guest blog.


Georgie, Herald of Wickedness

By F.T. McKinstry

When I was a little kid, my mother would read me stories from a vintage 1960s Childcraft book. Well (clears throat), it wasn’t vintage then but whatever. My favorite story was called “Georgie,” about a ghost that haunted an old New England house and its kindly owners. Georgie wasn’t a bad ghost, just a little confused. I related to him. The addition of…

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Wolves, Ravens and the Hooded One

This post originally appeared as a guest post on Mighty Thor JRS, one of my favorite book blogs. If you’re into Fantasy, Sword and Sorcery, Vikings, Norse Mythology and the like, do check it out.

Wolves and ravens. Romanticized, vilified and deified, these intriguing creatures reflect our dreams and shadows like few others. One source of their fame in popular imagination began in ancient Scandinavia, where reverence for wolves and ravens was not only pragmatic, such as the symbiotic relationship in which the animals led hunters to prey and shared in the spoils; but also pantheistic, by connecting to and identifying with the animals as helpers, shamanic totems, and messengers of the gods.

Enter Odin, the Allfather in the Norse pantheon. A deity par excellence, Odin is the one-eyed, all-seeing god of war, magic and wisdom. He is a complex and enigmatic figure, associated with poetry and inspiration, madness and battle fury. He hungers for knowledge. A notorious shapeshifter, he is known as a trickster who might grant favor to a devoted follower only to vanish when most needed. Odin is a patron of shamans, poets and magicians who, in their search for truth and pattern, endure grueling trials of hardship and isolation.

Wolves and ravens are Odin’s familiars, of a sort.

Among the many names attributed to Odin is Raven God. The connection between Odin and ravens is deep and ancient, existing before the Viking Age. A god of death and war, Odin was naturally associated with these carrion birds, the beneficiaries of sacrifices and battlefields, and harbingers of the god’s favor. In keeping with Odin’s intellectual nature, ravens are also extremely intelligent. Two of these birds, Hugin (thought) and Munin (desire), fly over the land and tell him of all they see and hear.

In traditional animal lore, crows and ravens are given the honor of belonging to both the seen and unseen realms. They are creatures of the hinterlands, mysterious, powerful and devious. That these birds tend to accompany death also makes them ominous, both feared and revered by their presence on the carcasses of animals, the condemned, or fallen warriors. They are omens, symbols of the implacability of death, and bringers of information from the other side.

Odin is also accompanied by two wolves, Geri and Freki (both meaning “ravenous” or “greedy one”). He gives his wolves all of his food, and drinks only wine. The wolves are said to roam over battlefields, devouring carnage. As the ruler and bestower of battle madness, Odin is the patron god of berserkers and warrior shamans called úlfheðnar (wolf-hides), who underwent powerful initiations in the wilds, living like wolves, to reach a state of possession and thereby acquire the beasts’ strength, fearlessness, and fury—much to the terror and dismay of their enemies.

On the flip side, Odin is the enemy of Fenrir, a monstrous wolf sired by Loki, a wily and ambivalent trickster god. When Fenrir grows out of control, the gods are compelled to chain the wolf using deception, a stunt that comes with a great sacrifice. Fenrir will break free at Ragnarok, the fall of the cosmos, and devour everything in his path, including Odin. Another story tells of Fenrir’s sons Skoll (One Who Mocks) and Hati (One Who Hates), wargs that chase the sun and moon through the sky in hopes of devouring them. At Ragnarok, they will catch their prey, and the sky and earth will darken and collapse.

The wolf, with its ferocious and apocalyptic reputation in Norse mythology, its prowess and grace in nature, and a distinctive howl that puts a primordial chill on the flesh, is an exemplary metaphor, an antagonist in many a dark tale, and a patron of warriors.

Given the frequent appearance of wolves and ravens in mythology, legends, folk and fairy tales throughout the ages, and their remarkable natural traits, it’s easy to see why they are so common in works of fantasy. Battle prowess, cunning, guile, mystery, trickery and darkness—imagery and metaphors abound. My own work is no exception; a love of Northern European mythology and the grim and sublime traits of wolves and ravens inspire me to no end.

In the Chronicles of Ealiron, an ancient hierarchy of wizards holds the raven as the highest level of attainment in the magical arts. The wolf takes on its spookier characteristics in the lore of the Old One, a goddess of life, death, and transformation. In her darkest aspect, the Destroyer, she appears in the shape of a wolf. Water Dark, a novella that takes place in the world of Ealiron, delves deeply into the shadowy, fickle nature of this being, who commands a high price for being summoned, good or ill.

Lorth of Ostarin, the driving force in the Chronicles of Ealiron, is an assassin raised by a wizard. He has the eyes of a wolf and an affinity for ravens, which, being the opportunistic creatures they are, tend to follow him around in much the same way they follow wolves, and for the same reason: to clean up the mess. Lorth and his grim companions also appear in “The Om Tree,” a short story told by an ancient tree that gets its best gossip from—you guessed it—ravens.

The Norse gods haunt many worlds, not just Earth. In Outpost, Book One in The Fylking, Odin, in keeping with his nature, appears at strange times and in strange ways, leaving our protagonists to wonder what he is and whose side he’s on. He goes by many names: Hooded One, Wanderer, Magician. He is served by the Fylking, immortal, Viking-like warriors who take the shapes of wolves and ravens, among other things, though even they can’t guess his agenda. The Wolf Lords, Book Two, delves into the Fenrir Brotherhood, an ancient order of sorcerers who serve the Wolf Gods of the North, including, it is said, Loki himself. Fenrir is their patron, a force used in a variety of nasty ways that don’t always serve the ones who summon him.

Odin, of course, lurks in the shadows, watching and waiting.

Little Tree, by F.T. McKinstry

If you’d like to see something beautiful about the value of wolves in nature, watch this: How Wolves Change Rivers

And if ravens fascinate you, do check out the work of Bernd Heinrich, a naturalist who has done fantastic research on ravens in the wild:
Ravens in Winter
Mind of the Raven: Investigations and Adventures with Wolf-Birds

Norse mythology? Here’s a good website, and it includes a reading list: Norse Mythology for Smart People

Little Tree, by F.T. McKinstry

The Chronicles of Ealiron
The Fylking
Outpost
The Wolf Lords
Water Dark
The Eye of Odin
The Om Tree

© F.T. McKinstry 2018. All Rights Reserved.

The Feared and Respected Old Norse Völva Sorceresses

Thorbjörg Lítilvölva from the Saga of Erik he Red displayed in the Saga Museum in Reykjavik. (Photo: Inreykjavik.com)

In the Viking Age, the völvas were both feared and respected: they exercised seiðr and were in direct contact with Odin, the Allfather. The word völva derives from the Old Norse vǫlva meaning “wand carrier”, a traveling sorceress and seeress who got well paid for her services.

A number of women’s graves found in Scandinavia probably contain a völva’s wand. The graves are often well equipped and rich, and show that these women had magical powers.

The völvas were the foremost religious interpreters in the Norse society. The most famous example of a völva’s prediction is the Eddic poem Völuspá (Old Norse: Vǫluspá, meaning ”Prophecy of the Völva”). The poem tells the story of the creation of the world until its coming end Ragnarök (“The Doom of the Gods”), told by…

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Definitive Sword and Sorcery: Elric by Michael Moorcock

Elric of Melniboné. One of my favorite series… Thanks for the post, James!

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This is the second in a new series of post I am going to try here on Mighty Thor JRS, Definitive Sword and Sorcery. At least what is definitive in my opinion. I will spotlight some of the best authors and books fantasy has ever known. I can’t wait to share these amazing books, authors, and the amazing cover art and artist. For my second post I am going to go with Michael Moorcock and his Elric stories.

As I become more and more disenchanted with modern fantasy and modern fantasy authors, I find myself going back to the books and authors that got me into fantasy in the first place. So I decided to shed some light on these books and authors. I am going to try and do this on a weekly/monthly basis but we will see how it goes.

If you have some comments, suggestions, recommendations…

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Congratulations to the SPFBO Finalists

Leona's Blog of Shadows

Final Ten has been announced, huge congrats to the finalists!

Announcement on Mark Lawrence’s Blog is here.

Here is the list of the finalists, along with the bloggers and Amazon links to the books:

Bookworm Blues – Fionn: Defence of Rath Bladhma‘ (Brian O’Sullivan)
Elitist Book Reviews – Larcout (K.A. Krantz)
Fantasy-Faction – Paternus (Dyrk Ashton)
Fantasy Book Critic – The Moonlight War (S.K.S. Perry)
Lynn’s Books – Outpost (F.T. McKinstry)
The Qwillery – The Music Box Girl (K.A. Stewart)
Pornokitsch – The Path of Flames (Phil Tucker)
Bibliotropic – The Grey Bastards (Jonathan French)
The Bibliosanctum – Assassin’s Charge (Claire Frank)
Fantasy Literature – The Shadow Soul (Kaitlyn Davis)

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Outpost (The Fylking #1) by F T McKinstry #SPFBOF

Here’s an SPFBO update on Outpost…a fantastic review. My deepest thanks to Lynn for her time and care.

Books and travelling with Lynn

FullSizeRender-10OutpostToday I’m reviewing my chosen book from the fifth batch of books.  For the SPFBO I split my books into 6 batches, each batch having 5 books, with the aim of choosing one favourite book from each and then to pick an overall winner from those final 6 and today’s post is my review of my book from the fifth batch.

Outpost is a well written and absorbing high fantasy story set on the war torn planet of Math.  The planet Math, already at war, is about to face it’s biggest threat and whilst the majority of the planet is wrapped up in politics, intrigue and warfare a much more deadly foe threatens its very existence.  With an underlying love story (very subtle) and three very unlikely allies McKinstry manages to spin a fascinating tale which I found really quite compelling.

The world building.  There’s quite a lot going on…

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Red Eft’s Rite of Passage

Reblogged from Leaf and Twig

orange his only protection so many small steps in the long journey from adolescence to adulthood

via Red Eft’s Rite of Passage — leaf and twig