To celebrate Lauren's upcoming release of Dark Deceit, she has kindly agreed to come to my blog and tell us a little bit about the myths that served as inspiration for her new dark paranormal series. She has also partnered up with me for a new giveaway. Please be sure to enter it on my home page or the Giveaway tab on Facebook! 

I've had the pleasure of reading an advance copy of the book, and it was unlike anything I've read before. It's a a dark and fascinating take on Norse mythology. The gods have fallen, and they live among us . . . in all their brutal glory. Dark Deceit is a story of revenge – Loki’s revenge against Odin. Lauren doesn’t pull any punches with this one; the violence and suffering depicted in the book seem very real, made even more so by Lauren’s beautifully descriptive – almost poetic – turn of phrase. Her words are powerful, and her imagery is so vivid that I almost felt like I was there, caught in the crossfire between the gods. If you enjoy dark, well-written fantasy with some steamy elements, then you will love this book.

You can find out more at Lauren's blog and website at:
http://laurendawes.blogspot.com
http://authorlaurendawes.wix.com/laurendawes

And now, here's Lauren's guest post!

Lauren Dawes

I just wanted to start by thanking Anna for having me write a guest post on her blog. This is actually the first time I’ve written a post for someone else. As some of you may or may not know, I’m releasing my book Dark Deceit very, very soon. In the book trailer it says it’s “mythology, but not as you know it.” Dark Deceit is based on some Norse gods that I found particularly interesting. Some of their names you may already recognize from movies like The Avengers and Thor. But I must tell you my characters are nothing like those portrayed in the movies.

So, to get your acquainted with them all, I thought I’d do a little Norse Mythology 101 with you. Before I begin though, I must say there are a lot of variations on Norse Mythology. I have simply chosen one of these variations to talk about. 

I’ll start with the structure of the Nine Worlds. These were believed to be nine separate mini-worlds where certain ‘species’ of gods and immortal beings could be found. 

Starting from the top we have:


Asgard: 
Asgard is the world of the sky gods called the Aesir. They rule the worlds, and are generally hated by everyone else in the Nine Worlds.

Vanaheim: 
Vanaheim houses the ‘old gods’ call the Vanir. These gods who ruled before the Aesir took over. They are the gods of nature and elemental magic.

Alfheim: 
Alfheim is the home of the light elves. Light elves are believed to be kinds of guardian angels.

Nidarvelli: 
Nidarvelli is the home of the dwarves. They (naturally) lived underground and were master craftsmen.

Midgard: 
Midgard is the human realm. They are constantly exposed to the gods.

Jotunheim: 
Home of the giants (Jotun). Jotun are the sworn enemies of the Aesir.

Svartaheim: 
Home of the dark elves. Dark elves are called Mares. They were believed to sit on the chests of humans and whisper dark things into their ears while they slept, birthing the term ‘nightmare’.

Niflheim: 
Niflheim is the home of the dead. In Norse mythology, how you died decided on where you would finally go. If you died honorably (i.e. in battle) you would go to the great hall Valhalla in Asgard to drink mead and eat roast pig with Odin for the rest of eternity. If you died of illness or old age, you would go to Niflheim. This is a dark, cold land shrouded with mist. Niflheim is ruled by Hel—a woman who is half youthful and beautiful, and half dead.

Muspelheim:
This is the land located furthest away from Asgard. Believed to be the first worlds, it is the land of fire, ruled by Sert. Sert is also the sworn enemy of the Aesir. 

Some important players in Norse Mythology:

Odin:
Odin is perhaps the most well-known of the gods. He’s referred to as The All-Father. He only has one eye having sacrificed his right eye to drink at the Well of Mimir – the great well of knowledge. In Dark Deceit there are numerous references to this. Traditionally he wore a patch over his empty socket, but in my version, Odin has a glass eye made of obsidian glass.

He also had two ravens called Munin (memory) and Huggin (thought). He also had an eight-legged horse called Sleipnir. Odin had two wolves in his possession, too. These wolves were called Geri and Freki.

Loki:
Loki was the son of two giants. Although he wasn’t technically Aesir, he lived among them at Odin’s request. He was the trickster god. There are many stories about him pulling pranks on people, but his finally prank was his down fall—causing him to be imprisoned in a cave until the end of time. Loki’s most famous children were Hel (ruler of the underworld),  Jorgungand (a giant serpent) and Fenrir (a monstrously large wolf).

Frigg:
Frigg is Odin’s equal in every way, much to Odin’s disgust. She is the goddess of marriage, fertility and love. It was said that she also had as much knowledge as Odin did, but Odin never allowed her to sit in on meetings etc… Frigg and Odin had two children together—Balder and Hod.

Valkyries:
Their name literally means ‘Choosers of the Slain.’ There were a group of maidens that belonged to Odin, collecting the bodies of the fallen warriors from the battlefield and taken to Valhalla. They had many names including the demi-goddesses of death, swan maidens or wish maidens. It was said that if you could catch a Valkyrie or her feather cloak, you could get one wish from her. And for the men, if you stole a Valkyrie’s feather cloak, she would become your wife for seven years.

For more information on Valkyries, I’d highly recommend this website:
http://www.dolls-n-daggers.com/Valkyrie

I did a lot of research for this book, and this website really was worth its weight in gold.

At the start of Dark Deceit, we’re witness to a scene where Loki is imprisoned in a cave as punishment for a trick he played. I’d like to share this story with you now so that you may have a better understanding of the history:

Baldr was the son of Odin and Frigg. Most beloved of all the gods, Baldr had a dream that he was going to die and his death would bring about the end of days called Ragnarök. His mother, Frigg, tried to prevent the prophecy from coming true by making every living and inanimate thing in the world to swear an oath that they would not harm him. When she had travelled all the world, she returned to Baldr to tell him that nothing could harm him—not even fire or water.

To celebrate their success at circumventing the prophecy, Odin and Frigg threw a party for their son. At this party, the guests began testing Baldr’s invulnerability by throwing objects at him. The only person who was no joining in was Hod, Baldr’s brother. Loki watched how Hod sat back, and when he asked him why, Hod told him he could not see. 

Earlier, Loki had disguised himself as Baldr, and went to visit his mother to see if anything in the world could harm him. Frigg told him only mistletoe hadn’t sworn the oath, but she thought it unimportant and harmless enough not to get an oath from it. 

Using this knowledge, Loki produced a sprig of mistletoe and a slingshot, putting it into Hod’s hands. Loki set up the shot, but it was Hod’s strength that drew the shot back. The mistletoe hit Baldr, killing him instantly.

Hod was killed for the murder of his brother, and Loki fled. Frigg was so upset that her son had died that she begged all the gods, light elves, giants, dwarves and dark elves to shed one tear for Baldr. If everyone in the word did this, Hel—the ruler of the dead—would release Hod from her realm. 

When Frigg asked a giantess called Thokk for one tear for her son, she refused. Little did she know, but Thokk was actually Loki in disguise, and Baldr stayed the prisoner of Hel in the land of the undead. 

As punishment for his role in the death and eternal banishment of Baldr, Loki was tied to a bolder in a cave until Ragnarök. To make sure he felt the pain the world felt when Baldr died, a huge serpent was suspended above his head, forever dripping poison onto his body.

There are many, many stories about Norse mythology that you can research. These were the ‘highlights’ I guess. If you haven’t figured it out yet either, I named my wolf packs in the Half Blood series after their Nine Worlds also. Norse mythology has always fascinated me. I’m just glad I got the chance to write my own version of their story in my book Dark Deceit.  
 


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