The Manchester Central Library was definitely the key place to go to get primary research as I am making a book. There were many different ranges of books throughout the library, but I only had my mind set on a section in particular: Old Norse literature. When I first went into this library I very much doubted Old Norse books would be present, but I was proven wrong when I went to the achieve.
This part of the library contained books from every era: Ancient World to Industrial Revolution; Anglo-Saxon to Modern England – it was very over-whelming. It did take a lot of fishing through different eras until coming across ancient Scandinavia.
Fairy Tales by Hans Andersen not only contains tales about norse mythology, but illustrations to follow. What I particularly enjoy most about this book was the layout of the illustrations. None of the illustrations are the same sizes, which makes the book more interesting to read. If all illustrations were the same size it would make the book seem dull and not as engaging; you want to get the audiences full attention. It gave me inspiration to follow suit: making one large illustration that shows important scene in the book, then making a smaller one that shows a scene that doesn’t have that much impact, but is something I just want to include.
Stories and Ballads of the Far Past by Kershaw was another book I found, including Old Norse ballads from the 12th Century. Why I picked this book in particular and not another book like Andersen’s fairy tales is because of the fact it includes ballads. I think I mentioned this in another post, but I wanted to include a song/ballad for when Gunnar Baardsen (the main character of my book) dies, similar to Ragnar Lodbrok. A certain ballad I fell in love with called “Ballad Of Arngrim’s Sons” was what inspired me to do this approach, along with Ragnar Lodbrok’s death song.
“Ballad Of Arngrim’s sons” is about Hervik, a shieldmaiden who finds out how her father was slain. She then makes a journey across the sea, meeting up with her father’s killer Örvarodd the Bold. She was met with an army of 500, which she defeated without fault. Örvarodd admitted to defeat, begging for forgiveness from Hervik; he was not given that. She killed him where he stood, cutting his body up in a revenge fuelled killing. The rest of the ballad is about several men chasing the shieldmaiden, something that did not peak my interest.
Why I loved this ballad so much is the way Hervik travelled to get revenge for her father’s death, similar to what happens in my story (Gunnar’s sons, along with Ragnar’s sons travelling to Northumbria to slay King Alle of Northumbria) and also the saga of Ragnar Lodbrok. It seems very common in Norse Mythology sagas/ballads that a child avenges their father, maybe they respect that in their culture.
At the end of the book, maybe as an additional segment, I will write a ballad – not the length of Ballad Of Angrim’s Sons, but a big shorter, maybe 20 stanzas.