Dark Elves in VIKINGS!


I love Ruthedhel!

Svartalfhiem is my underground paradise of Norse Mythology. Why? Because I'd already described Niflhiem, Nidvallier, and the dangerous tunnels of the trolls; I wanted my own Lothlorien, a safe place where the reader could see that Yggdrasil was more than just one threat after another. Unlike Lorien, the companions had to fight to be trusted, but that made their visit interesting. I would have loved to let them explore the vast underground city better, but it was incongruous with Loki and Hel only a short journey behind them.

How realistic is Svartalfhiem?

Even I can't answer that. My reason is that nothing in Norse Mythology describes what a 'dark elf' is. Svartalfhiem is a spot on a map, and historically, archeologically, and literally, nothing is known of it except the race of its inhabitants. In the myths, no one ever meets a dark elf. In the sagas, no one ever mentions a dark elf.

Svartlfhiem was the only place in Norse Mythology where I was free to do anything. I knew as I wrote The VIKINGS! Trilogy that I'd never get to describe life (existence) inside Valhalla; once they got to its Gates, they had to stay there, as only Eric could enter it.

At the time that I was writing this, I was well on my way to being knighted in the SCA, having already won several large tournaments. Fighting was my life; every Wednesday, under the University Bridge, we armored upon the outdoor basketball court and beat the crap out of each other, and that was just practice for the weekend tournaments. (If my aged body would endure it, I'd still be fighting today!)

Svartalfhiem is a mirror of a tournament that I once held and hosted, and which I still think was a lot of fun. The cost of entry was a tourney prize 'equal to one six-pack of really good beer (or better)'. A dozen fighters signed up; I brought a six-pack of Killians Red Ale, one guy brought a spear, another a basic feast-gear collection, and another offered a nice brass Thor's Hammer, and one guy brought raw foam (for armor-padding) and duct tape. We fought to the end, and every tie had to be fought, until there was a clear order from the victor to the lowest loser. In that order, we each went to the pile of tourney prizes and selected our favorite; everybody left with a prize that they liked, and many new fighters were delighted to fight more than the usual 2-deaths-you're-out.

I won ... and claimed the spear, which I still have.

SCA fighting is not pain-free; I've suffered numerous broken bones and cracked ribs - of course, my armor was so minimal that it was nicknamed 'The Road-Warrior armor' and every marshal complained about it. But I gave as good as I got, so ... no complaints! (I once broke 6 ribs of a squire a through his plate-steel breastplate!)

I still exercise; I stay as active as I can. Today I am an accomplished ballroom dancer, which is pretty good for a guy over 55. I dance 3 times each week, and not just waltzes; fast cha-chas and hustles are about as aerobic as you can get. So it is a good thing that I wrote Svartalfhiem when I did; I wouldn't want Eloise to fight Ruthedhel in a championship foxtrot competition!