Quarterly Bestiary: Trolls: From Hostile Magic to Lovable Goofs

Let’s talk about trolls. No, not the online hater type; it’s the original ones from mythology I want to cover today. You probably have your own go-to image of a troll, whether it’s big or small, deadly or cuddly. Yet the name has been applied to a surprising range of creatures, mostly from Scandinavian mythology. Most of the traditional trolls are antagonistic to humans, but beyond that, what makes a troll? Where do these trolls come from, and how did they go from menacing gods and cave explorers to prancing about in children’s movies? Let’s take a look. Continue reading “Quarterly Bestiary: Trolls: From Hostile Magic to Lovable Goofs”

Hey, Tolkien, Where’d You Get Those Elves? Part 2: Build an Elf

The road goes ever on…especially when you dig into the origin of Tolkien’s Elves! At this point, I’ve pretty much concluded that there is no single model for the Elves of Middle-earth, but rather that Tolkien incorporated bits and pieces from a variety of influences. And some elements, of course, were original inventions. In Part 1, I went over a few possible inspirations from pre-Tolkien fantasy literature and cultural connections based on his languages. This time I’d like to get more into the true mythological sources. So let’s dive in and see what pieces Tolkien used to craft his Elves! Continue reading “Hey, Tolkien, Where’d You Get Those Elves? Part 2: Build an Elf”

Thor and Loki in Modern Media, Part 2: So Far, So Close

Welcome to the second part of my discussion on modern media portrayals of Thor and Loki! Each of these movies, TV shows, and book series could easily take up a whole post, so I’ve split things into two. The first part looked at brotherly depictions from the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the Norwegian show Ragnarok. These next two works put them in the same story, but they never directly interact. Even without a close relationship, however, they still reflect how their writers approached bringing mythology to modern viewers. For the overview on the original Thor and Loki, see Part 1. Now, let’s take a look at a couple classic Thor and Loki stories before we see how their modern versions work at a distance. Continue reading “Thor and Loki in Modern Media, Part 2: So Far, So Close”

Thor and Loki in Modern Media, Part 1: Brother Bonds

Chances are if you know any Norse gods by name, Thor and Loki are among them. Along with Odin, they are the stars of the Norse pantheon, appearing frequently in modern movies and novels. Sometimes they feature separately, but I find Thor and Loki most fascinating when they appear together. They’re such a study in opposites. Thor has some nuance but is mostly a predictable muscle god, while Loki is a slippery shapeshifter who defies morals as easily as labels. The popularity of this duo means they have been used in stories around the world. I’d like to look at four of those stories and how they compare to the original mythology. I want to discuss the interpretations of Thor and Loki in a bit more detail, so I’ll break things up into two parts, starting with stories that show the pair as brothers. Continue reading “Thor and Loki in Modern Media, Part 1: Brother Bonds”

Wild Horses Could Drag You Under: A World of Water Horses Part 1

For my last Quarterly Bestiary, I took a deep dive into the kelpie with a brief dip into the each uisge. Originally, I wanted to cover more water horses to give the kelpie context, but it turns out the kelpie was more than enough to tackle at one time. I promised I’d cover those other water horses, though, so today I’d like to start off a list of water horses from around the globe. The list is lengthy enough that I’ll split it into two, starting with the ones cut from the same mythical cloth as the kelpie. Continue reading “Wild Horses Could Drag You Under: A World of Water Horses Part 1”