Melissa Snark is guest posting for me today. She even has illustrations! Thank you Melissa! :D
Norns weaving destiny (1912) by Arthur Rackham
There stands an ash called Yggdrasil,
A mighty tree showered in white hail.
From there come the dews that fall in the valleys.
It stands evergreen above Urd’s Well.
From there come maidens, very wise,
Three from the lake that stands beneath the pole.
One is called Urd, another Verdandi,
Skuld the third; they carve into the tree
The lives and destinies of children.
Völuspá or “The Insight of the Seeress”, Poetic Edda
Norns are female beings who influence the destinies of men and gods. They are some of the more interesting and thought provoking figures in Norse Mythology. In Western culture, they are often compared to the Fates from Greek and Roman mythology and are depicted in film and literature, including Shakespeare's Macbeth. However, it should be noted that the Norns were not the exact equivalents of the Fates.
Ancient Norse culture did not regard destiny as predetermined and unalterable. Rather, they held destiny to lie somewhere between the two extremes of pure free will and absolute predetermination. There are mentions of both greater and lesser Norns.
The Three Norns
The greater Norns were three sisters who personified Fate in all of its forms: past, present, and future. They lived together beneath the roots of Yggdrasil, the eternal tree which supported The Nine Worlds, including the home of men as well as Asgard, the home of the gods. Their names were Urðr (the past), Verðandi (the present), and Skuld (the future).
In many texts, Urðr was also known as Wyrd.
Some legends depict her as an old woman and others refer to her as a hag. She looked upon events gone by and could see all historical occurrences in the lives of the mortals and the gods.
Verðandi was a young maiden who portrayed innocence and freshness, the embodiment of active youth and vitality. Unlike her sister, Urðr, she looked straight ahead with confidence.
The final Norn, Skuld was a mature woman in the prime of life who symbolized motherhood and passion. A veil of mystery surrounded her, and she impressed all who encountered her. Her gaze turned toward the future.
The Norns Duties
The Norns worked together to weave a complex tapestry. Each thread represented a single individual's life; the length of the thread determined the duration of that person's lifespan. Mortal men and gods alike had their destinies woven into the vast tapestry.
The Norns attended the birth of every child, so new mothers were served porridge as an offering in the hopes of babies being blessed with happiness and success.
The Norns lived at the base of the World Tree and are the guardians of the Well of Urd, the substance of time and destiny, represented as a vast body of water. They released a rooster every morning, which crowed to awaken the gods and men. The three sisters watered the roots of the great tree daily.
Mention is made of lesser norns who acted as agents of providence, bringing good fortune or harm to certain individuals. These guardian spirits attached themselves to particular individuals at birth and followed a person throughout their lifetime. The exact number of lesser norns is unknown, but they influenced both humanity and the races of dwarfs and elves. To the ancient Norse people, they evoked awe and provided an explanation for the events of a difficult and unpredictable world.
As an author, the concept of the Norns and destiny has intrigued and perplexed me. In Battle Cry, the sequel to Hunger Moon, the story begins with a section called "Prophecy"...
* * * *
Victoria shifted to her human form and walked naked to join the Norns gathered about the muddy shore, filling crude wooden bowls with water from the lake. The three sisters personified the aspects of fate: past, present and future.
Thick gnarled roots radiated from the immense base of the world tree, growing thinner as Victoria walked toward the Well of Urd. The dark water of the vast lake spread outward into eternity.
The youngest sister, the beautiful maiden Verðandi, smiled in greeting. "You visit us again, Victoria Storm."
"As you predicted I would." Victoria spoke with equanimity and deference. She sought guidance from the Norns, and needed to curry their favor.
Without a word, wizened Urðr thrust a bowl gripped in bony fingers into Victoria's hands. The vessel had shallow sides and a broad flat bottom, rough side, hewn from weathered grey wood. Securing a firm hold, Victoria stepped into the lake, grimacing as the frigid cold bit into her flesh. She placed the lip of the bowl to the water and filled the container to the brim.
Old Urðr spoke: "The man you loved has died."
Victoria winced. "Yes."
"Your mate has also died," Urðr said.
"Also true." Grinding her teeth, Victoria followed the Norns toward the base of the tree. She walked slowly, placing each step with precision, taking care not to spill a single drop.
"They were not the same man." The three sisters each took a turn watering the roots of the tree.
Scowling, Victoria bent and poured water upon a root until her bowl was empty. "The past is the past. There is nothing I can do to alter it," she said with determined pragmatism. "I've come to see you because I am pregnant."
Youthful Verðandi clicked her tongue against the roof of her mouth. "You doubt yourself. You drown in sorrow and anger."
Ancient Urðr cackled.
"True enough." Victoria bobbed her head once in acknowledgement even as her patience roiled beneath the ironclad self-control she exerted. She had no patience for riddles, no use for games. She wanted answers.
When Skuld finally spoke, her voice manifested upon the air, thick and oppressive, closing in from all sides. "Your daughter will not grow to adulthood in Midgard."
Victoria's heart slammed against her breastbone. Her breath expelled in a horrified gust. Her hand flew to protect her abdomen. "What do you mean?"
"Your daughter will be taken from you on the eve of her third birthday," Skuld said.
"How am I to prevent this?" Victoria demanded with a growl trembling in her throat. Her entire body shook under the dual assault of fear and rage.
"We have made a prediction," Verðandi said in a sympathetic tone.
"Your predictions are not carved in stone." Stubborn determination settled over her like armor. Her mother taught her there was no absolute unalterable fate, just as there was no absolute free will. Life consisted of a wide range of possibilities between the two extremes. She refused to allow her daughter to die at only three years of age. She would move worlds, slay gods, alter fate. Whatever it took.
The old woman, Urd, smiled with a frightening gleam in her black eyes. "Predictions carved into the trunk of the World Tree, carved into the spiritual fabric of the world."
"Do you wish to save your child?" Skuld asked.
Victoria answered without thought. "Yes. I'll do anything. Tell me. Please."
"The final days are upon us," Skuld said. "To save your daughter, you will side with Loki against the Aesir. You will use your enchanted dagger to cut the binding of the great wolf, Fenrir. You will be responsible for freeing the beast who kills Odin and brings about the end of the world."
Victoria's stomach turned. Her head shook in automatic denial. "When the gods imprisoned Fenrir, my people pledged our fealty to the Aesir. We have served them loyally ever since. Even when my people were driven from the homeland almost a millennium ago, we remained faithful. I will never cut Fenrir's bonds. To do so would end the world we live in and doom us all."
Skuld's gaze held steady. "You will."
Victoria snarled her denial. "No. I will never become the servant of the Trickster or willingly take part in bringing about Odin's death."
Skuld turned her head to the side and pinned Victoria with one black eye, which rolled in the socket like a liquid marble. "To save your daughter, you will."
Hunger Moon (A Victoria Storm novel, #2 Loki's Wolves series)
by Melissa Snark
Valkyrie Victoria Storm desires nothing more than to provide her wolf pack with a safe haven, but her position as priestess to the Goddess Freya also brings with it certain… obligations. Not to mention complications.
War with the Barrett family resulted in the deaths of her parents and most of her pack. Now, hunters are hot on the trail of the remaining pack members. Sawyer Barrett, a human hunter hell bent on revenge, is convinced that Victoria murdered his brother. He will stop at nothing to see her dead.
Victoria must defend the survivors and somehow lead them to safety. Months on the run has weakened the pack, and there are newborn pups to protect, making swift travel impossible. Ahead, the promise of refuge beckons.
Their best chance for survival lies in Sierra Pines, California: Arik Koenig, a powerful, dominant male wolf. He promises to protect and provide for the pack, something Victoria knows the pack needs for survival. His mysterious past is riddled with violence and death, including the slaughter of his entire family twenty years before. His wife died under mysterious circumstances and his son, Logan, is rumored to be her killer.
What is truth? Who can she trust? The desperate spirit of Arik’s murdered wife calls out for help, and Logan begs for assistance in clearing his name. Victoria must solve a murder that has pitted father against son, rooted in a mystery reaching back two decades. Her quest starts her on a journey from the human world to Odin’s Valhalla and back again.
Victoria will find salvation or face destruction beneath the Hunger Moon…
Here's an excerpt for you:
Victoria felt him before she saw him. His power washed over her with the force of an incoming tide, as dark, mysterious and unstoppable as the ocean. Her wolf rose to answer his in instinctive response, defiant and determined. She challenged his power and altered the irresistible flow so it passed around rather than over her. Before she reached the office entrance, the male werewolf responded to her presence and surged to his feet. He rounded the desk, demonstrating extraordinary grace and strength, and she braced for a physical confrontation. He dwarfed her in both height and weight.
As soon as their gazes met, they locked in a dominance contest. His narrowed eyes pierced hers; the light-pigmented brown irises were the color of honey and eclipsed the whites and round black pupils. Wolf eyes.
Victoria did not approach with her head low or avert her gaze. Instead, she challenged him outright, radiating defiance, posture stiff and erect. While they faced off, she regretted the tactical error, but it was too late to rescind. Her stubborn pride permitted no retreat, and it went against her nature to submit.
"Let's take this outside where there are no humans to bear witness," he said in a deep, resonant voice she found appealing.
Aroused, her wolf took an immediate interest in him as a fine, fit male animal. For the first time, Victoria noticed his physical appearance, and her wolf found him more than acceptable. She estimated his age as being in his late thirties. He in no way suffered for the smattering of silver hairs that peppered his dark head. He was a perfect specimen of a man.
Distracted, Victoria broke eye contact, but not to submit. She ran her gaze over his body with blatant approval, lingering on his broad shoulders and chest, muscular arms and legs. He wore a tailored navy suit with a light shirt and dark blue tie. From the way his clothing fit, there was not an ounce of spare fat anywhere on him.
His features possessed splendid symmetry, though a silver scar on his right cheek marred his perfection. The shape of his brow, nose, and lower face hinted at a distant Roman heritage. High cheekbones alluded to his Nordic blood. He cleared his throat, and Victoria scented both his arousal and amusement.
"Did you come to challenge me, or do you have something else in mind?"
His devilish smile hinted at a sense of humor, and Victoria seized on the opening. A ballsy gamble carried inherent risk, but her initial inept blundering had left her with no other graceful out. Her eyes rose to meet his once again.
"I am Victoria, daughter of Adair and Katherine, High Priestess of Freya, Lady Valkyrie, shaman, and healer," she said, making her boast. "I am also the Alpha of my pack, and I am seeking a mate. I have come to assess whether you would make an acceptable suitor."
"You're kidding." He registered surprise and disbelief.
Victoria arched her brow. "I am not."
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
A friend asked me once how I chose my pen name. I told her the following: "Melissa, because when people mix up my first name, it's the most common goof up. Snark, because it amuses me. A) I love the word 'snarky' and B) I love Lewis Carroll."
As an individual, I'm sarcastic, stubborn and blunt to a fault. I have a strange sense of humor and I like to laugh (usually at my husband or children), but also at myself. I'm not particularly extroverted, although I do enjoy time with my family and close friends a great deal.
At the moment, I'm a stay at home mom who writes in my spare time. I've got a B.S. from Arizona State University in Business, and I've worked a variety of different jobs, including as a medical device documentation specialist, a technical writer, and an auto liability adjuster.
I live in the San Francisco East Bay of Northern California with my husband, three kids, and three cats. My hobbies include roleplaying, cooking and reading.
I maintain a Blog, which I update regularly. I enjoy hearing from my readers, so please drop me a line at MelissaSnark at gmail dot com.
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Melissa will be awarding a $25 GC - Amazon or B&N (winner's choice) to two randomly drawn commenters during the tour.
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First of all, I liked the cover. This was the second book in the Loki's Wolves series. In Hunger Moon, there was scarcely a dull moment! It was packed with werewolves, dilemmas, action, some drama, an evil witch, and a tad bit of steam.
I felt many different emotions throughout the pages of this book.
I recommend this book if you like T.G. Ayer's Valkyrie series, tales of Norse Gods, or werewolves. If you like all three, then this is a triple treat!
I didn't read the first book yet but I found that it was free when I went to purchase it. :-) This book does an excellent job of standing alone though.
Melissa Snark did a great job of making her werewolf book different from others. Yes, there are some similarities but not enough to make it seem like deja vu. Mix in the Gods and you will find her winning formula.
The book was a fairly quick read. I'd like to read the next book to find out what's in store for Logan. I have a sneaking suspicion but, I'll refrain from saying for now.
I received an ecopy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion. I liked it. It was different, quick paced, interesting, and it left me wanting to read more about Victoria and her pack.
Do you pay attention to the cycles of the moon?
You can find the complete tour schedule here.
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