Tor.com content by

Chris Sharp

Fiction and Excerpts [1]
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Fiction and Excerpts [1]

Asgardpunk: New Life to the Mythopoetic Struggle of “Monsters”

Mythology, like history, is created by the conquerors. Old oral traditions are translated by outsiders, distilled through the lens of usurpers and tourists, whose own beliefs often supplant or consume those of the original telling. The creation stories of predominantly Western European traditions—Greek, Norse, Irish, Basque, Bulgarian—but also Hindu, Native American, and elsewhere, all tell that the gods warred against the giants before the coming of humanity. But who and what were these giant “others” in our collective myth, and what service did they provide?

I don’t pretend to be a scholar on this subject, or any other for that matter, but those early mythic struggles between the older elemental forces of the giants and the newer civilizing influence of the gods have always fascinated me. I wanted to know more about those lost tribes of storied prehistory. It seems possible that the universal belief in giants derived from early peoples’ attempt to explain the oversized bones of dinosaurs and megafauna they encountered. The tales of the gods’ conquest over such beings were passed down by oral tradition, and cultivated in the group consciousness of growing communities across the world.

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Cold Counsel

Slud of the Blood Claw Clan, Bringer of Troubles, was born at the heart of the worst storm the mountain had ever seen. Slud’s father, chief of the clan, was changed by his son’s presence. For the first time since the age of the giants, he rallied the remaining trolls under one banner and marched to war taking back the mountain from the goblin clans.

However, the long-lived elves remembered the brutal wars of the last age, and did not welcome the return of these lesser-giants to martial power. Twenty thousand elves marched on the mountain intent on genocide. They eradicated the entire troll species—save two.

Aunt Agnes, an old witch from the Iron Wood, carried Slud away before the elves could find them. Their existence remained hidden for decades, and in that time, Agnes molded Slud to become her instrument of revenge.

Chris Sharp’s new epic fantasy Cold Counsel is available from Tor.com Publishing.

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Five Books About Trolls

As a youngster in the late seventies, I never would have guessed that 2017 would be a big year for trolls. Some of my earliest memories involve obsessing over the Moomins, cute trollish creatures from Scandinavia that looked like bipedal hippos. A couple years later my focus shifted to the book Gnomes, by Will Huygen, which depicts gnomes’ hidden struggles against monstrous trolls bent on capturing and eating them. These hirsute, grisly depictions of the enemy affected my dreams. Then, the Rankin & Bass illustrated edition of The Hobbit carried me deeper into fantasy; I wanted to be the characters in that world, fight against the same foes, or better yet, make friends with the trolls, goblins, and elves. I couldn’t get enough of Norse and Greek mythology, fascinated not as much by the famous exploits of the gods, but with the less defined stories of the giants, titans, and lesser monsters that had existed before the gods were even born.

What were these ancient elemental beings that were bound to the land only to fight and fall against the civilizing press of humanity? Why have they fascinated me, and so many others, since childhood and into adulthood? The world “troll” comes from Old Norse, and refers to an ill-defined class of supernatural beings from Norse and Scandinavian folklore. Some saw them as cognates of “giants” and “elves,” but over the centuries “trolls” have taken on an identity unto themselves—at times similar and/or related to both giants and elves, or perhaps even the result of shared blood between the two species.

[TROLLS!]

Series: Five Books About…

My Invisible Foes Fear Me: On Swordplay and Storytelling

In this ongoing series, we ask SF/F authors to describe a specialty in their lives that has nothing (or very little) to do with writing. Join us as we discover what draws authors to their various hobbies, how they fit into their daily lives, and how and they inform the author’s literary identity!

You’ve never fully lived until you’ve leapt across Brooklyn rooftops with a sword in your hand. In retrospect, midday beneath a hot summer sun, it was not my cleverest idea, but at the time it seemed like the only thing that made any sense. I was renting a top floor apartment with three of my best friends in the late nineties, a period both glorious and deeply dysfunctional—hence the thinking it fine for me to leap over the low walls between buildings with a Thai short sword. I guess I was going through my fantasy hero stage. For better and worse, I’m not sure it ever ended.

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