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Story and Character

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The Madman's Words...

      "Ice shod feet padded liquid snow and mud, but he felt neither. Nor the biting, frigid wind that clawed at his clothes. The old man stood before a towering palisade of moss and snow covered wood spikes, the only real obstacle preventing him from reaching his goal.
      High in a watchtower, the guards of Thorvald scrutinized the stranger and wondered what manner of man would dress as he did and not feel the cold, for all he wore was a thin burlap robe tied about his meek body. No hair upon his pate, not even his sparse beard seemed like it could give him warmth, yet he stood before them as though the midday sun shone upon him. Bone thin, body aged and decrepit, bald and wretched he stood before the gate, feet sinking into winter’s slush. Either the cold didn’t affect him, or he was the cold made manifest. Without pleasantry, he demanded an audience with the chief of Thorvald."


"The Vale of Odin" is a Historical Fantasy novel about Vikings and the primal side of human nature. Bjorni Jotenbani and his friends are forced to face unrelenting evil to save all they hold dear. Unlike most Viking stories, where larger than life heroes conquer, Vale of Odin's protagonists are seen as real people, with their own frailties, pitted against a merciless universe.

At its core, it is a story about human primal instinct, the progress of civilization and belief, and Human frailty. It is a dark historical fantasy influenced by the Icelandic and Norse sagas, and the works of H.P. Lovecraft.

The Heroes

Bjorni Jotenbani

Bjorni Portrait
" His face was a generous one, with soft cheeks, traced with scars, underlying a hard, serious brow. The blonde hair of his straggly full beard had picked up a touch of wisdom’s grey. A small mouth quivered between the handles of his proud nordic moustache, but it pouted in defeat at the hands of his wife.

Bjorni lived a life of raiding the coasts of nearby empires, yet gave it up after meeting his wife Kyrinna and settling in the distant land of Odin's Vale. Away from the demanding existence of the mainlands, Bjorni's farm gave him a new lease on life, until his old friend, and Chieftain Olaf "the Gripping Hand' Knudssen tasked him with a favour. Owing a favour, he reluctantly takes up his sword, not knowing that his fate is far more complex than he thought. 
A strong warrior and former Huscarl to Chief Olaf Knutsen, he lived by a code of honor and, ever a realist, knew what had to be done.


Kyrinna Portrait
        “Up, you!” His wife, Kyrinna prodded the foot that protruded lazily from the bed, like a hairy tree branch amidst furry moss, “you have a visitor!”
         “Go away, woman!” he insisted.
         “And jobs to do! Up!” A woman of slight stature and statuesque beauty, she had weathered the years as well as Bjorni - if not better - and not lost her temperament in the process. She grabbed his foot tenderly and with wifely devotion, then gave it a good yank. It wasn’t enough to pull her lazy husband from their bed, but it was enough to unsheathe him from its warm embrace. He sat up, half asleep, a nasty expression on his face.

      The real force behind Bjorni Jotenbani is his wife; a woman born to a shady life of smuggling, but destined to change Bjorni's mind about raiding. Wise, vibrant, athletic and canny, Kyrinna lives by her wits and cunning; she knows true power doesn't lie in the sword, but in the mind. 
      Learning that her husband is tasked with a secret mission, Kyrinna ensures that he is kept safe - by not letting him out of her sight.

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Erich the "Long-Shaft"

Erich Portrait
       Erich was a sharp, hawk of a man. A hooked nose, thin like razored beak and cheeks just as sharp. His eyes too, bespoke of a bird of prey, analytical and piercing, with only a slight hint of humour and friendliness. How on earth the man’s wife could deal with him looking as he did was beyond thought, but from the amount of children he had sired, she must have discovered a way.
         His face now sported the scars of a life of savage combat, a broken nose and a cleft lower lip, courtesy of a saracen blade. A lot of the damage was covered by his thick, hoary beard, topped by a long-handled moustache that, whose braided knots hung well below his pointy chin.

Bjorni's oldest friend, Erich is doing his best to avoid the realities of husbandry and fatherhood, but not very successfully: hiding out while flirting and boasting in meadhalls, sharing stories of the good old times, before his wife Griselda drags him back to responsibility. Known as the "Long-Shaft" by most, mistakenly for his noted virility, but really for the heirloom great-ax he uses. Erich offers his help in Bjorni's task, mostly to escape his beloved's chores. Little does he know that in order to keep his family safe, the chores would be the least of his worries.

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Runa, the outcast Healer

Runa Portrait
       “Show yourself, woman, if woman you are and not beast or demon!”
       The door opened and a face appeared. Its beauty took Bjorni by surprise: no mother, nor crone was this, but a luscious maid with a head of flowing curls capping it, bright eyes and fair complexion, a blush of rose upon her skin, a playful spirit harnessed inside, “Beast or demon? Well, that’s a first. You know you’re not much of a catch yourself.”

Runa; runepriest of the valkyrie Eir, and as a 'witch' an outcast of the very Thorvald village she serves. Her rumoured magick makes her an outcast, though the villages visit her regularly, seeking fortune-telling, potions or company. When Kyrinna urges Bjorni to seek her wisdom, she learns of his wyrd, and how it directly involves her. Curious, she follows him on his journey.

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Vidar, the Woodsman

Vidar Portrait
A man darted through the forest, seemingly like one of the forest’s own demons, dressed in furs and leather, decorated with fluted bone and iron rings. His bearded hair was wild and unwashed, he presented a fearsome visage. Atop his head lay a wolf pelt that rode his back, its forelegs draped across his shoulders and tied to his arms. In each hand was a wicked-edged bearded axe. He ran, loped even, across the snow-laid ground, graceful and savage, and brutally fast.

Vidar is a nomadic woodsman, living off the Vale of Odin and travelling from shore to shore. When his paths cross with the villagers of Thorvald, he brings tales from across the Vale and stories seem to support Bjorni's secret mission.

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Adrielle, the Princess

Adrielle Portrait
       “Show yourself, woman, if woman you are and not beast or demon!”
       The door opened and a face appeared. Its beauty took Bjorni by surprise: no mother, nor crone was this, but a luscious maid with a head of flowing curls capping it, bright eyes and fair complexion, a blush of rose upon her skin, a playful spirit harnessed inside, “Beast or demon? Well, that’s a first. You know you’re not much of a catch yourself.”

Adrielle is a spoiled dark-elf princess and the target of an assassination attempt with her royal family. While journeying, her entourage is ambushed by mysterious attackers of magickal or, leaving her the only survivor and prisoner of a realm of psychopath dwarves. Taught magick from birth, one wonders who is holding who captive.

Adrielle appears in the second novel, "The Grasp of Odin."

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The Villains

Obed "of the Marsh"

Obed Portrait
Then a man appeared at our gate. Bald, frail and thin, dressed in a burlap robe. He seemed to be like us, so hungry and poor he could barely dress himself - why should we pay him any attention? So within, so without. His presence meant nothing. Our guards tried to send him away, but he remained, asking to speak with the chieftain. Me.
I thought him to be one of the peasants and his appearance did not do anything to dispel that thought, but I brought him inside and as Odin’s hospitality required, fed him, as best I could. Despite him looking so desperate, he barely touched what I gave him. To this day, I wonder if he actually ate anything.
He called himself ‘Obed of the Marsh’ and he had my interest in an instant. He said: “The Earth bows before me, Olaf Knudssen. I can nurture your crops. I can find you game to hunt. The blight upon your land can be removed.” The words came easily from him, as though he were wishing someone a good morning. “Imagine what that would mean for you. For your people.”

A 'shaman' of unknown origin and intent, Obed is more myth than reality to most who know his name. Only those with long memories are able to piece together his appearances amongst civilized peoples - sightings occur fifty years to centuries apart. Only one thing is known for certain - that he appears in times of dread blight and famine, as if he carries it with him.

Astute Lovecraft fans will no doubt know the import of Obed's name, but hopefully not the machinations behind his character, and what he has in store not just for Thorvald and Odin's Vale, but for the entire world.

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Edrik, the Facechewer

Edrik Portrait
       A devil moving amongst the enemy ranks; a tall figure, towering by half a man’s height above the others like one of the giants of myth. Ymir’s footman. In the shadow of the cove, clad in thick furs and a massive bearded axe of dark iron slung across a back as broad as a house, he might as well have been carved from solid coal, so dark was his aspect. The Facechewer.
He frowned, eyebrows furrowing in concentration in a light scowl, “It is not yet written. There is hope.” It was no secret the Face-chewer was there - the entire war-band must have seen him by now, stalking amidst their rows of spear and sword, there was little that could be done to disguise his presence.
Erich returned, “Then it is well hidden, friend! Perhaps it lies behind yonder army’s shield wall, or under the skirts of the Face-chewer! Shall we go find it?”

A man of impossible physical dimensions and barbaric origins. Born of isolated germanic tribes in forests where sunlight is a distant memory and the roots intertwine to hard word floors, Edrik was recruited as Obed's champion. A viscious fighter and class-A psychopath, as well as a messy-eater cannibal, Edrik keeps his troops in line with abject terror rather than as a paragon of leadership. Obed has infested his form with black magick to such an extent that only his body is only vaguely human. His followers, recruited from the decimated and extinct tribes he has conquered, worship him in the hopes to receive the same blessings, though it is a damned existence.

Edrik is on Obed's leash, and it is short and unmerciful. Even a being such as Edrik can know pain and suffering.

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The Vale of Odin was planned to be a trilogy, but with development of the second novel, that seemed a bit optimistic in order to get the planned story arc into it without bloating the final installment. (Working titles only, along with the full/short version)

  1. (Across) the Vale of Odin
  2. (Beyond) the Grasp of Odin
  3. (By) the Wrath of Odin
  4. (Deciding) The Fate of Odin

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