Today’s Deadly Destination is from Susan Krinard‘s Mist on San Francisco, CA from MIST (published on July 16, 2013 by Tor Books). Want to win a copy? Enter via the widget below.
Susan Krinard’s Mist on San Francisco, CA from MIST
To you, it’s only mythology. The kind you probably read about in D’Aulaire’s Book of Norse Myths when you were a kid in elementary school, and in comic books when you were in your teens …. or any age these days. And then there are the movies, which paint a pretty gloss over everything they don’t get completely wrong.
But I’m getting off track. And maybe I’m dating myself with D’Aulaire. It’s pretty hard to avoid that when you’re centuries old.
Anyway, about those myths … they happen to be my life. Or were. When I left Asgard, home of the Aesir—Odin, Thor, Freya, Baldr, all the others—I was just a Valkyrie. Essential to the scheme of things in the Homeland of the gods, but not very important as a person. In those days, I could always be replaced, just like any of my Sisters. Sure, the life had its perks: all-but-eternal life, comfort, basking in the glory of the gods.
They never said it, but I’m pretty sure my Sisters knew all along that for me it was just a job, not an adventure. It could get a little monotonous, riding over battlefield on elf-bred steeds, sweeping up the bravest of mortal warriors to become soldiers—Einherjar–in Odin’s eternal army. But the worst part was that we weren’t allowed to fight. We carried spears and swords and wore armor, but it was all for show. And when Loki and his frost giants brought on Ragnarok, we’d still be left behind.
And I wasn’t that great at basking.
But on the very eve of the Last Battle, Odin called a dozen of us together and sent us to Midgard with Twelve Treasures of the Aesir. I got the big prize: Gungnir, Odin’s Spear. We took an oath to protect them, believing that somehow Odin and his allies would survive Ragnarok and reclaim them.
It never happened. We scattered all over Midgard, and for centuries we lived as mortals. I learned the battle skills I’d always wanted to have, and sometimes I even used them. But it wasn’t until WWII that I joined the Norwegian Resistance with two of my Sisters and fought in a war that actually affected the world we lived in.
That didn’t turn out so well for the people I was trying to protect. So I swore I’d never interfere again and came to San Francisco to start a new life—another one, that is—and tried to forget there had any been any hope of the gods’ return.
That didn’t work out so well, either.
And there I go, getting off track again. Because I’m not here to tell you my sad story. You’ll hear about that soon enough. I thought it would be useful for you Midgardians to have a little guide handy when all those mythological names and terms pop up. Because they will, and you’re not going to have much time to look up definitions when the world is shaking down to its foundations right under your feet.
Here’s a few of the words (and names) you should remember at the beginning. And try to pay attention. Your life may depend on it.
Aesir: the gods. Odin, Frigga, Thor, Freya, Heimdall, Freyr, Baldr, and Njordr, to name a few.( Although, technically, Njordr, Heimdall and Freya are actually Vanir. They’re the elder race of gods who were more or less conquered by the Aesir and adopted into the pantheon.) If you’ve read up on your Norse mythology, you’ll know that the gods aren’t much different from mortals. They have nasty fights and scheme against each other and even, on occasion, kill each other. Don’t look to them for redemption. Also, don’t look to the comic books and movies. Odin isn’t benevolently concerned with the fate of Midgard. Thor isn’t such a nice guy. Etc. etc.
Alfar, singular Alfr: Elves, elf. Stuck-up intellectuals and generally pains in the ass, especially when they expect you to do impossible things. They do have some pretty strong Nature-magic, though, and they breed the Aesir’s horses, which is one of their few good qualities. (When you think elf from Alfheim, the closest you’re going to get is Tolkien. Tall, very pretty, long hair, the ears, all that, but not nearly so concerned about the welfare of non-elves. In other words, no Elrond or Galadriel.)
Asgard: Homeworld of the Aesir. Odin rules in his hall Valhalla, and each of the other major gods have their own halls. It’s the center of all the Homeworlds. Or so the gods liked to think.
Freya: She has a pretty important place in my story, so you should at least know she’s the goddess of love, fertility, beauty, and sex. She used to be a goddess of battle, too, but she left that behind a long time ago. Too much work. I won’t tell you anything else, but suffice it to say that she’s not very different from any of the other Aesir, with all that implies. And I have very personal reasons for saying so.
Ginnungagap: The primordial Void where all Creation began … and where everyone who fought at the Last Battle ended up when they should have … well, you’ll hear about that later.
Jotunn, pl. Jotunar: Technically, this just means giant. But as far as Midgard is concerned, it pretty much just means “frost giant,” because they’re the ones you have to watch out for. (They aren’t the most intelligent species of giant, but what they lack in brains they make up for in all-around **(nastiness. )They were Loki’s allies at the Last Battle, and they’re capable of wreaking a lot of havoc. (Once again, don’t believe what the movies tell you—they aren’t blue, they aren’t mostly naked, and sometimes they look just like an average arm-breaker in an old gangster film. They have terrible taste in clothes, too.)
Loki Laufeyson. Son of frost giants, adopted—much to their ultimate regret—by the Aesir to live among them in Asgard. I’m only giving him his own few lines here because he’s the one who causes most of the trouble. At first, anyway. He’s a trickster, as you probably already know from numerous sources. He’s also a shapeshifter, and can turn into just about anything he wants to—including someone of the opposite sex, or even an entirely different species. That makes him hard to pin down, to say the least. (And that’s exactly what I’d like to do to him, with the tip of my sword. ) The movie-Loki may be a big hit with the fangirls (and women), and there are a few similarities between him and the real one (because the film makers got a few things right,) but Thor was never his brother in any sense of the word. The real Loki has three very nasty, monstrous offspring—the great wolf Fenrisulfr, the World Serpent Jormungandr, and the goddess of Niflheim, Hel. Good for swearing by. Loki’s even more egotistical than your average god or elf, and he likes nothing more than chaos. Except maybe sex. If he offers you something you’ve always wanted, run like Hel.
Ragnarok: The End. The Final Battle– Aesir and alfar against Loki Laufeyson and his frost giants and monstrous children. It wasn’t supposed to turn out well for most of us, including mortal-kind, but some prophecies have a habit of not quite coming true. Until it’s not supposed to.
Rune: magical letters from the Runic alphabet, the symbols used in Galdr, or Rune-magic. Rune-staves can be carved or drawn on any surface to aid a spell, and the physical part of the spell is usually accompanied by a chant (or singing, if you can carry a tune. ) Most average Asgardians, including Valkyrie, can manage a little of this, but to handle it well takes training. The kind I could have lived without.
There’s a lot more to this mythology stuff, considering all the misinformation floating around out there, but I’ve probably given you enough to think about today. The rest you’ll have to pick up when you read my story.
Susan Krinard never expected to become a writer. She fell into it by accident when a friend suggested she try writing a novel, and that novel sold to a major publisher two years later. A longtime reader of science fiction and fantasy, Susan wrote a novel combining fantasy and romance–Prince of Wolves, one of the first romance novels to introduce “non-cursed” shapeshifters and werewolves to the genre. Sue has written more than twenty paranormal romance novels in all settings and eras– including her popular werewolves, vampires, hereditary witches, unicorns in human shape, reincarnation, ghosts, and time travel–as well as several straight fantasy stories, novellas, and two “epic” fantasies (out of a four-book series that was cut off with the second book.) Mist is her first urban fantasy, and it’s been a big thrill for her to finally be writing in a genre she loves more than any other. Susan makes her home in New Mexico, the “Land of Enchantment,” with her husband, Serge, her dogs, Freya, Nahla, and Cagney, and her cats Rocky and Agatha. Deer, coyotes, squirrels, two kinds of quail, chipmunks, and rabbits have all been known to visit her back yard. In addition to writing, Susan’s interests include music, old movies, reading, nature, baking and mixed media art.
3 copies of MIST by Susan Krinard
Available on July 16, 2013 by Tor Books
New York Times bestselling author Susan Krinard launches her first urban fantasy series
Centuries ago, all was lost in the Last Battle when the Norse gods and goddesses went to war. The elves, the giants, and the gods and goddesses themselves were all destroyed, leaving the Valkyrie Mist one of the only survivors.
Or so she thought.
When a snowy winter descends upon modern-day San Francisco in June, Mist’s quiet existence starts to feel all too familiar. In quick succession, Mist is attacked by a frost giant in a public park and runs into an elf disguised as a homeless person on the streets…and then the man Mist believed was her mortal boyfriend reveals himself to be the trickster god, Loki, alive and well after all these years.
Loki has big plans for the modern world, and he’s been hanging around Mist for access to a staff that once belonged to the great god Odin. Mist is certain of one thing: Loki must be stopped if there is to be any hope for Earth. But the fight is even bigger than she knows….
Because Loki wasn’t the only god to survive.
Read an excerpt
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