If you’ve read any of my Nine Worlds (previously called Unbound) series, you know I love to take myth and tweak it a bit. One way I did this was by taking one particular wolf in Norse Mythology and making it an entire type of shapeshifter instead.
In Norse Mythology, Garm is a giant wolf, or the “greatest of dogs” in the eddic poem Grimsnisal. He makes his most dramatic appearance in the gods’ end of the world, Ragnarok, where he is left tied up and howling. Snorri Sturlson pits him against the god Tyr in the great battle.
Mythology being what it is, Garm, Hel’s hound (as in Loki’s daughter Hel), and Fenrir all get a bit mixed up at times depending on whose version of the stories you read. This, of course, totally justifies my reasoning to use “Garm” as the name of my wolf shapeshifter guardians in the Nine World. (I wrote that last sentence with my tongue firmly in my cheek… )
Fenrir, however, is a lot better defined in Norse myth and thus kept his identity in my books.
Fenrir appears in a couple of well drawn Norse stories. He, like Hel and Jormungand, is Loki’s offspring.
One story, the story of his binding, is very disturbing to me, but then so many things the gods did were disturbing. After writing my version of Fenrir for Guardian’s Keep though, I found I couldn’t listen to the binding story in Neil Gaiman’s Norse Mythology. I had to fast forward through it. Silly, maybe, but it honestly got to me. Anyway, in it the gods are all up in arms because Fenrir is getting to be such a big boy. Rather than try to work with him, they get the dwarves to make a magical chain named Gleipnir with which to bind him. Fenrir was no one’s fool though and asked for a god to place his hand in his mouth to gain his trust. Tyr complied. Gleipnir was put around the wolf and the dwarves’ fetter held. The gods were thrilled, Fenrir was outraged, and Tyr lost a hand. Then to add injury to insult, the gods shoved a sword through Fenrir’s jaws (upright). He stayed in this position until Ragnarok when he will be freed and get a little revenge of his own by snacking on one little god name Odin…
I really have to say I still root for Fenrir and if eating Odin didn’t cause the end of the world, I’d probably be all for it. (And to be fair, it isn’t the REAL end. Just the end to that time… a new beginning really… so… )
There are, for the record, two other wolves who at least have ties to Fenrir. Skoll and Haiti have the task of eating the sun and the moon during Ragnarok. The Lokasenna and Völuspá both have stanzas that indicate Fenrir is the father of these wolves. Maybe Aesa did make it back into that cave with Fenrir in Guardian’s Keep…