A World without Compromise
by David Brown
I was seventeen and studying at college when I first came up with the idea of Elenchera. The previous year I had discovered the RPG series, Final Fantasy, on the Playstation and I found the games to be remarkable. They blended sci-fi elements into richly adorned fantasy worlds, they had compelling characters both good and bad, epic storylines and they offered a memorable visceral experience as well, though that was the least important factor to me. I didn’t realise at the time that these games would change my life.
Final Fantasy allows the user to summon gods to aid their characters in battle and it was from this array of deities that I first discovered Odin. I assumed most of the gods in the game were invented but some were familiar from religious education at school so I delved deeper. I found that not only was Odin an actual god, he was the principal deity of Norse mythology, the faith embraced by the Vikings who launched relentless raids throughout Europe beginning in the late 8th century and only coming to an end around the 11th century. In that time the Vikings, led by Leif Ericsson, discovered America in 1100 AD, not Christopher Columbus as many may believe.
I began to read the mythology in-depth as well as branching out and reading the Sagas of the Icelanders, narratives from the descendants of Vikings, which told tales of their harsh lives and the many battles fought. Norse mythology is not colourful and romantic like the Greek stories or romance at court as you find in the Arthurian myths. The Norse tales are often gritty and the story of Ragnarok, where the world ends leads to a cataclysmic battle between good and evil where Odin is killed at the very start! I was drawn to Norse mythology because it had this uncompromising nature about it. Yes, there is great beauty amongst the gods, such as Freyja, but in essence this is a harsh world and I wanted that for my own work. It would mirror our own world which I don’t need to tell you is a difficult place to survive for far too many of us.