Sunday, September 22, 2013

Valkyries: Choosers of the Slain

Guerber, H. A. (Hélène Adeline) (1909)
"Helmeted Valkyries came down from the sky

—the noise of spears grew loud—they protected the prince;

then said Sigrun—the wound-giving Valkyries flew,

the troll-woman's mount was feasting on the fodder of ravens..."

--Helgakviða Hundingsbana I, The Poetic Edda

In the tradition of Norse mythology, a Valkyrie is a female entity who determines which soldiers will not survive a confrontation on the battlefield.  The word translates to: “Chooser of the Slain.”  In some accounts, Valkyries rode into battle mounted on horses and hovered over the battlefield. They may have been virgins. They wore helmets, wielded spears, and are often referred to as shield maidens. They observed the warriors engaged in combat and held power over life and death.  

They traveled together in groups of six, nine or thirteen. After selecting the soldiers fated to die, the Valkyries collected their souls and escorted them from the battlefield.  The first half were taken to Valhalla, a majestic hall ruled over by the Norse deity, Odin.  The second group of souls went to Freya’s army field, Fólkvangr. Not only did these beautiful women have the power to decide who would live and who would die, but they also determined which souls were worthy enough to reside in the warrior's paradise of Valhalla. Of course, not all Valkyries owed fealty to Odin. Some pledged fealty to Freya, the Norse goddess of love, fertility and battle.

Valkyries possessed many supernatural powers, including the ability to change their shape.  Several ancient Norse texts describe how the Valkyries were seen as swans when visiting the Earth during non-battlefield related visits. Being seen in their womanly form by mortal eyes carried much risk and there were powerful prohibitions against it. If a human man were to spy them in their natural state, they stood to lose all of their powers, as well as their immortality. 

In addition to being harbingers of death, they are associated with good fortune and safe journeys.  On the stormy waters of the northern oceans, Valkyries protected, guarded, and guided the ships of those whom they favored. They were the lovers of epic heroes and the daughters of royalty. Ravens accompanied them on their travels.

The ancient people of Scandinavia honored the Valkyries with poetry, elaborate carvings and works of art, jewelry and monuments.  Some European museums display recovered charms and runes dated to the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries.  Archeologists continue to unearth artifacts depicting Valkyries at excavation sites throughout the Norse lands.

Victoria Storm
Scholars have investigated Valkyries with marked interest and modern culture has portrayed them in movies, literature and video games. In the Loki's Wolves series, my heroine is a Valkyrie who serves Freya. Although I've exercised creative freedom with Norse mythology, I've tried to remain true to the spirit of the valiant shield maidens.

The Child Thief by Melissa Snark
A Victoria Storm novella
#1 Loki's Wolves series
Genre:  Paranormal/urban fantasy
Published March 17, 2013
Amazon ASBN B00CJ1D1BI
ISBN 9781301101122

Valkyrie Victoria Storm has werewolf hunters hell bent on revenge trying to kill her. She can barely keep her own downtrodden pack alive, let alone respond to the pleas of a murdered mother.  Can she set aside her differences and work with her sworn enemy to save a little boy from a Christmas nightmare?

Available for FREE:

Hunger Moon by Melissa Snark
A Victoria Storm novel
#2 Loki's Wolves series
Genre:  Paranormal/urban fantasy
Published April 25, 2013
ISBN-10: 1492107581
ISBN-13: 978-1492107583
Amazon ASBN B00CJ1D1BI

Victoria Storm faces seemingly insurmountable odds to keep her dwindling pack of werewolves alive and together. She fights hunters- including the brother and father of her deceased lover-and the pack takes another devastating loss. When they seek sanctuary in a small town near Lake Tahoe, high in the secluded Sierra Nevada Mountains, Victoria discovers they are infringing on the territory of a vastly more powerful Alpha wolf. To save her pack, she uses her feminine wiles to seduce the Alpha. Nothing comes easily for Victoria. Her plans are complicated by the Alpha's erratic son, a ghostly wife, and a vengeful witch. Not even her status as a Valkyrie or the favor of the Goddess Freya can change the course of destiny for Victoria or her packmates.

Excerpt :

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."
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Author Bio:

Melissa Snark is a paranormal and romance author with a particular interest in werewolf and Norse mythology. Her Loki's Wolves series combines elements of both in a contemporary fantasy setting. She lives in Northern California with her husband, three children and glaring of cats.

Where to find Melissa on the Internet:

Email:  melissasnark at gmail dot com

Twitter: @MelissaSnark

 I'm currently sponsoring the following giveaway as part of my Goddess Fish tour. Prizes include (2) signed paperback copies of Hunger Moon (shipping limited to continental U.S.) and (2) $25 gift cards to Amazon or Barnes & Noble.
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1 comment:

  1. It's so interesting to learn about Norse Mythology. After reading your Loki's Wolves series, this is really enlightening. Thanks for sharing!