This weekend I have laid Aiella aside, on the grounds that, pending any further reports from beta-readers, it is as finished as it is going to get, and also I’ve had enough of it for now.
Instead I have taken up my other work-in-progress, untouched for nearly two years, to see what might be done with it. The Saga of Gorm the Less and the Huldrafolk (hereinafter referred to as the Huldrasaga) is actually the older work, having been started about five or six years ago now. It is a fairly conventional comic fantasy, trying hard not to be a pale imitation of Pratchett, set in a fantasy Northlands very (very) loosely based on Norse sagas and mythology.
The story is concerned with the travails of a young and not very competent wizard named Gorm Eiriksson, who gets involved with the machinations of the Huldrafolk, a race of small and slightly wicked creatures, and their neighbours, the inhabitants of the remote village of Bjornsborg. I actually started out with a planned plot (yes, really), but it got away from me and developed complications that at the time I couldn’t resolve. Well, I like to think I’m a better writer now, and reading through it yesterday I was able to fix a couple of long-standing niggles and also to see how the story can be moved forward (although there are aspects of the resolution I still can’t work out yet).
I shall be quoting from the Huldrasaga during writing games on Twitter, and referring to it in updates here and elsewhere, so perhaps I ought to introduce the principal characters to you:
Gorm Eiriksson, wizard: The hero of our saga. Nineteen years old, and recruited from the big city by Ulf to help the Huldrafolk with a problem. Not a very good wizard, and since wizarding is all he knows, not much use for anything else. He is not, however, as dim as he might first appear. Gorm’s problem is that he was badly taught by an incompetent teacher, and lacks the knowledge or the experience to do anything else. An orphan, he was apprenticed to a wizard from an early age, and while he has no natural magical talent at all, he knows nothing else. Has led a very sheltered life. What qualities Gorm may or may not have in himself, remains to be seen. Often awkward physically and socially, but this is because he is a teenager, not an idiot. Would like to be rich and have some sex with a woman, please.
Ulf Njordsson, chief scout and hunter of the Huldrafolk (alright, only scout and hunter): Ugly even by Huldra standards, Ulf is probably the most quick-witted of the folk, and certainly the bravest. (Which isn’t saying much). Content to let the King do the kinging, seeing as it mainly involves trying to settle endless arguments. Thief and liar, obviously, with extra cunning and deviousness.
Einar Hollesson, King of the Huldrafolk: A rather fat and pompous Huldra, fond of the sound of his own voice and in love with his status. Given to bluster and making empty threats, which his people take no notice of. Like all Huldra, an inveterate thief and liar, and like most of them, a rotten coward.
Greta Thorfinnsdottir, matriarch of Bjornsborg, and mother to Gudrun and Ulrika: Hard-headed, no-nonsense, she keeps a tight grip on her money, her daughters, and her husband. Widely respected, not to say feared.
Ketil Sveinsson, titular headman of Bjornsborg: Husband to Greta, Ketil is a stout, genial man who likes his ale, his kip, and a quiet life generally. Doesn’t get it. His daughters can play him like a fiddle, and his wife keeps him on a very short leash. Much put upon.
Gudrun Ketilsdottir, elder daughter of Greta and Ketil: 17 year old village beauty who knows exactly what she wants (a handsome prince) and how to get it, knowing full well the power her beauty has over menfolk. Constantly thwarted in her ambitions by her mother, who knows all about power over menfolk. Has a fundamental aversion to any form of work whatever, and a very high opinion of herself.
Ulrika Ketilsdottir: Gudrun’s (10 year old) younger sister, a composed and level-headed young lady with a massive talent for causing trouble, making a profit, and walking away from the mayhem she has created with an innocent expression. A keen observer of life, with an especially good eye for things other people would rather not be noticed. Interests: blood, violence, blackmail and causing bother. (Ulrika wasn’t a planned character, she just turned up and hi-jacked the story).
Helga Larsdottir: Professional widow. Sworn enemy of Greta. Helga is a large lady with large needs, and a young man from the big city is just the thing … Predatory. Interests: sex, money and dabbling in amateur magic.
Halfdan the Remarkable: Former master and tutor of Gorm, Halfdan is an older and more experienced wizard, but slightly hampered in his activities by being a bit dead. He’s trying not to let it get him down.
Frida Skarthisdottir: Goose-girl of Bjornsborg, and Gudrun’s best friend. Grew up poor and uneducated; her father would have been the village drunkard if it weren’t for the fact that most Bjornsborgers drank almost as much as him anyway, so no-one really noticed. He stayed sober just long enough to teach her to read. She reads a lot. By the time Gorm comes to Bjornsborg Frida is twenty-one years old and while still poor, is now much better – if very eclectically – educated.
Plus full supporting cast of villagers, Huldrafolk, a troll, a demon, one ferret and …. some tax collectors.
What ensues includes plots, plans, romance, magic and a lot of jokes, which is good, in a comedy. Stay tuned to this .. um .. blog for further developments in the world of the Huldrasaga as they happen. If they happen 🙂
(They’d better happen).
N.B: In genuine Norse myth the Huldrafolk appeared to mortals as beautiful naked women with tails like a cow, an idea whose only point of contact with the likes of Ulf Njordsson is the tail.