Last year, I attended the annual Toronto Pagan Pride Day festival, where I did a reading from Black Wolf and met some pretty cool people. I’ll be joining them again this year, but since there’s a pox on all our houses, the festivities will be online, with presentations on the first Saturday of every month from October 2020 to March 2021.
It has been a long time coming, but Black Wolf: The Binding of Loki is now on the verge of publication. After several production snags resulting from the sheer length of the book and structural changes at the printing company, I am expecting the e-book to be released shortly, with the paperback novel to be available by early March. This week, I have been working with Renaissance Press to finalize the back cover copy, and we are ALL looking forward to finally setting this little bird free.
Though he was not quite of age, Thor had grown snugly into the mantle of manhood. He was broad and brawny, already quite adept at the skills of warcraft, and he frequently bested more seasoned athletes at games of strength and agility. His coarse hair had grown into a great mane of brassy blond, and his beard was full and streaked with copper. He could be quick to anger but just as quick to forgive, and his jovial demeanour made him many friends amongst the Aesir.
But as he strode across the fields in search of his younger brothers, his mind was clouded by thoughts of his parents’ strange behaviour in recent days and the increasing weight it placed on his shoulders as Odin’s eldest son. Frigg’s rational and compassionate leadership had lapsed suddenly when Baldr grew frail, and Odin’s disappearance had only exacerbated her fragility. Odin himself had remained distant and secretive since his return.
Útgarda-Loki beamed at Thjálfi, then turned his attention back to Thor and Loki. “I would be honoured to keep the three of you as guests this evening. You are free to wander as you please—you will find nothing that I wish to keep hidden. But I will keep no one who is not the master of some task, so after our meal, I will test you. If you pass, you may stay with me in my house as long as you like and enjoy all the pleasures you find within.” Gracefully sweeping his arm to one side, Útgarda-Loki gestured towards his many guests, all of whom watched the odd trio with intense curiosity.
The thought of her husband made Sigyn’s stomach clench. It was not like Loki to return to the Northlands so late in the year after his annual journey south. That had always been part of their marriage agreement: he would stay with her and the children during the hard, lean northern winters but would be free to travel south during the relative comfort of the summer months. Loki always came home with stories of his adventures with Thor, and his ability to change shape made him a most entertaining storyteller.
Loki and Odin have sometimes been described as mirror images to each other. Odin certainly pulls his share of dirty tricks, although for different reasons. The parallels and contrasts between these two characters will also shed some light on the myths and the people who believed them.
In the modern day, Loki is occasionally drawn up as being power-hungry and possibly psychopathic, but this interpretation obscures the complexity of his original character. While the mythological Loki does some truly horrifying things (he does bring about the destruction of the Nine Worlds, after all), he is mostly just a troublemaking pain in the arse and he often gets kicked around for it.
When I started writing Black Wolf: The Binding of Loki back in February 2015, I had no idea what a crazy trip I was embarking on or how much of my sanity I would have to pay out to get to my destination. There’s a lot to know and plenty to puzzle over when it comes to Norse mythology, as the myths, poems, and sagas were transmitted orally by the Vikings but not committed to paper until more than a century after their pagan religion and way of life had vanished.
Spear Shaker, Wanderer, Feeble Eye, Grey Beard, War-merry, All-Father―Odin had as many names as faces. He was the god of both war and poetry; he sought knowledge and wisdom but used devious or coercive means to acquire it; and, although he was the respected and powerful chieftain of the Aesir, he openly defied deeply rooted social norms for self-serving ends. What are we to make of such a being?
They say you should keep your friends close and your enemies closer still, and Loki is about the worst enemy you could ever possibly have—but not strictly because of his character. As troublesome as he is, he is not really evil, or at least, he’s no worse than Odin in many ways. Nonetheless, the Norns have already decided that Loki will lead the Jötnar to the ultimate Pyrrhic victory at Ragnarök.
We all know who Loki is—he’s the god of mischief. His job is to run around disturbing shit until it’s time for him to become a power-hungry madman and parade the giants into Asgard to destroy the other gods. Right?