The Axe, the Elf and the Werewolf

Book 1 in the Wyrdwolf series

Book 1 in the Wyrdwolf series
When a friend is accused of sabotaging a so-called human sacrifice, werewolf Isolde promises to help him. With no understanding of the world of magicians and the fay, she finds herself caught up in the murky world of criminal magic: a place where a Were judge is likely to end up dead or part of someone' s dangerous game.

Working with the sexy and reckless elf Declan and his enigmatic friend Michael, Isolde has less than 60 hours to uncover a conspiracy to destroy the Were packs - and all Weres. As she tries to discover what has led some Weres to begin to attack humans, Isolde is drawn into illegal activities that threaten her integrity as a Were judge and the lives of her colleagues. Her attempt to save her friend leads inevitably to a fight for her own life - both with her mate and her pack leader.

To protect the packs from genocide, Isolde must place her trust in what she has been taught but has never tested. She must begin to believe she can use the axe of a Wyrdwolf.

The book draws on folklore and mythology from a number of cultures. There are new takes on the nature of being Were and how Weres and the fay might integrate into mainstream human society. On the way, it takes in industrial magic, a touch of science and a dash of current technology. All set in a beautiful part of England.

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  • True BitsIf you want to know which of the folklore and history in the books is true

True Bits in the book (folklore and history)


Chapter 1
The 17th-century civil war in Britain was won by the Royalists. The monarchy was restored with Charles II in 1660.

A canine nose is that sharp.

Chapter 2
In Anglo Saxon, a moot was a place people met to arbitrate and conduct local business.

Chapter 3
In Anglo Saxon England, a thane (thegn in Anglo Saxon) was a noble below the rank of ealdorman.

Brownie is the Scots name for a type of fay that crops up widely in European folklore – the house dweller that tidies the house, milks the cows and mends clothes or shoes. Hobbits are from this group.

Selkies are from Scots/Icelandic/Faroese/Irish folklore. They are much like the Scandinavian swan maiden in that they need their skin to change shape.

The daoine sídhe are the Irish equivalent of elves.

Chapter 4
In British and Irish folklore the fay use glamour to make themselves attractive.

In Heathen mythology, there are nine worlds – the main ones being for gods, elves, ettins (a form of nature spirit) and humans.

The idea that silver is harmful to Weres is relatively recent. It probably began in the 19th century.

Chapter 5
Mara is the Old Norse for malevolent night spirits. The Anglo Saxon  word mare gives us our modern English nightmare.

In Heathen mythology, Loki fathered a child on the wife of Tyr (= Tiw). See the Poetic Edda Lokasenna 40. However, the child was a son and the wife is not named.

The Old Norse word for fetch (a supernatural part of a person) and a type of female guardian spirit was the same as the word for the placenta. I’ve played with this to produce the founding myth of wyrdwolves.

In Heathen mythology, north and down is the direction of Hel’s kingdom. See the Prose Edda Gyfaginning 49.

Lawspeaker was the title of the top legal office in Scandinavian countries, from around the 10th century until the 13th to 14th centuries. A lawspeaker memorised and recited the law. In Iceland, the Lawspeaker was also an arbiter. I’ve changed the role to that of a judge.

Seelie/Unseelie is from Scottish folklore. The Seelie Court ruled the ‘good’ elves. I invented the Unseelie Synod.

Chapter 6
Bogles are a type of Scots and Northumbrian fay.

In Irish mythology and folklore, a geas was an obligation or prohibition magically imposed on a person.

Geas (plural geasa) is from Irish and Welsh folklore. It’s a taboo or an obligation or prohibition magically imposed on a person.

Standing over a supine canid is an act of canine domination.

Chapter 7
Prat (British slang) = idiot.

Droit du seigneur refers to a supposed legal right in medieval Europe of feudal lords to deflower maidens on their wedding night.

Chapter 8
In Jewish folklore, a golem is an animated anthropomorphic being created from inanimate matter.

Chapter 9
The representation of the UK employment tribunal procedure and pre-hearing negotiations is accurate for 1999.

Saywife is my play on the pronunciation of the word seiðkona (Old Norse = female magic worker). I’ve changed the role to that of a healer.

Solicitors can become barristers in the English legal system.

Chapter 10
What Michael says about drug development is true.

Chapter 11
I updated several features of Anglo Saxon social organisation for Izzy’s world. The original for eldormen was ealdormen – high nobility in 9th to 11th century England. A Thing was an assembly. An Althing was a primary governmental assembly of the state in pagan Iceland. Witan or Witenagemot was an assembly of the ruling class in Anglo Saxon England from before the 7th century until the 11th century. Its function was to advise the king.

York was the capital of the Anglo Saxon kingdom of Northumbria. It was an important city in the Danelaw – a Viking kingdom that roughly lay to the north of a line drawn between London and Chester, during most of 9th to 11th centuries.

Chapter 12
Ambrose was one of the names of Merlin.

In Heathen mythology, a fetch (Old Norse fylgja/Anglo Saxon fæcce) is a supernatural part of a person. It generally took the shape of an animal.

Chapter 13
Wight (Anglo Saxon) = creature. In modern Heathenry, the word is applied to nature spirits.

Chapter 14
In Heathen mythology, Muspelheim (Old Norse = Firehome) is one of the Nine Worlds.

In the Heathen religion, Winter Nights was one of the "three greatest blessings of the year" mentioned in the Ynglinga saga. The historical festival marked the beginning of winter and involved sacrifices to the elves and the dísir.

Chapter 16
Ulfhednar/ulfhedinn (Old Norse: plural/singular) are from Heathen mythology. They were berserkers who changed into wolves rather than bears.

Chapter 17
Disir (Old Norse) are protective female ancestors. I have created the werewolf version from a mix of ‘black dog’ folklore.

Wish Hounds are a variant of the common folklore motif of Black Dogs, from Devon & Cornwall.

In Heathen mythology, Yggdrasil is the tree that houses the nine worlds.

Chapter 18
Tír na nÓg is one of the names of the Otherworld in Irish mythology.

Chapter 19
Gabriel’s Hounds/Ratchets are Black Dogs from northern English folklore.

The Wild Hunt appears in folklore in various European countries with various leaders, including Herne the Hunter (England) and Odhin. Herne is regarded by many modern pagans as an avatar of Cernunnos.

A normal lynx can leap two metres straight upwards.

In Welsh mythology, the Cŵn Annwn are the hounds of the underworld.

Chapter 20
The Indian Scout 101 is a motorcycle built in the first half of the 20th century. It was popular for Wall of Death stunt exhibitions.

A gift for a gift is a modern Heathen maxim based on pre-Christian religious values.

There is a place called Ellwood in the Forest of Dean. The name may mean old wood or elder wood.

Fennel is one of the herbs in the 10th century Anglo Saxon medicinal charm The Nine Herbs Charm.

Chapter 21
Nixie is a Germanic name for an undine or water spirit.

The history of the Forest of Dean is true.

Myrddin Emrys is the Welsh equivalent of Merlinus Ambrosius. What Sam says about the history and names of Merlin is true.

Geoffrey of Monmouth was a 12th-century British cleric. His imaginative bestseller The History of the Kings of Britain shaped the legends of Merlin and King Arthur.

Merlin stood on a rock in Broceliande to make rain according to Breton folklore.

Elizabeth I had a court magician called Dr Dee.

Chapter 22
In Anglo Saxon, a mot (pronounced moot) was an assembly. A leah = lea or open space. I put them together for a pack meeting place.

Harrow comes from an Anglo Saxon word meaning a place dedicated to the gods.

Dog pawprints aren’t individually identifiable in the way fingerprints are.

The tale about Loki can be found in the Prose Edda, Skaldskaparmal 35.

Wyrd is a Heathen concept related to fate.

Chapter 23
Brief (British slang) = lawyer, especially a barrister.

But, as it is, we have the wolf by the ear, and we can neither hold him, nor safely let him go. Justice is in one scale, and self-preservation in the other. (Thomas Jefferson, 1820)

Revenons à nos moutons (French idiom) = let us return to our sheep (=subject). It became a popular English idiom.

In Heathen mythology, orlog is related to wyrd. It can be expressed as the total of everything that has made someone the person they are.

Chapter 24
WPC = woman police officer (British police forces until 1998).

Chapter 27
In Heathen mythology, the Hag of Ironwood is Angrboða, an ettin who gives birth to three of Loki’s children. See the Poetic Edda Voluspa 40-41 and Prose Edda Gylfaginning 34.

The Chase Hotel in Ross on Wye existed at the time of writing, though I’ve enhanced parts of it.

Chapter 28
In 1999, all-region DVD players were either not available or else well out of the price range of most consumers.

Chapter 29
The ram-headed snake is part of Celtic iconography. It appears with various gods though is most closely associated with Cernunnos. It seems to be a symbol of regeneration and fertility.

Loki sired Fenris, who bit off Tyr’s hand in response to betrayal. The story is in the Prose Edda, Gylfaginning 34.

Chapter 31
In Irish mythology and folklore, Finbheara is variously described as the king of the Connacht fairies or King of the Dead. He and his wife live in Cnoc Meadha (= Knockma). He had a reputation for kidnapping human women.

Chapter 32
The therapeutic index exists. What Declan says about clinical trials is true.

Chapter 36
Modern Herefordshire is roughly equivalent to the Anglo Saxon kingdom of Magonsætan.

A variety of Heathen myths are alluded to in the description of the chair. These are related in detail in the Prose Edda Gylfaginning 51.

In Heathen mythology, Hel is the name of a goddess and her kingdom. She is Loki’s daughter. Ettins are powerful beings who fight the gods in Asgard or intermarry with them. Norns are older than the gods and tend the world tree, Yggdrasil.

According to folklore, the fay are averse to iron.

Chapter 37
What is now Herefordshire and part of Worcestershire was the Anglo Saxon sub-kingdom of Magonsætan and Hwicce. I’ve rendered this as Manston and Wich.

Chapter 38
In Heathen mythology, Freya wears a cloak of feathers and Brisingamen, which may be a gold necklace or girdle.

Chapter 39
Anglo Saxon England and Heathen Scandinavia removed the protection of the law from someone for particular offences. Without protection, they could be killed with impunity. In Scandinavia, there were two different types of outlawry, one temporary and the other permanent.

Chapter 40
The Tuatha De Danann are the ancient gods of Ireland.

Chapter 41
The Mothers (Latin: Roman: Matronae) were female deities venerated in Northwestern Europe from the first to the fifth century. Bede (a 9th-century monk) recorded that the eve of Yule was celebrated in the UK as Mothers’ Night.

Chapter 42
Nether Hel is my rendition of Niflhel (Old Norse) = Foggy Hel. It is mentioned in both the Poetic and the Prose Eddas. In Gylfaginning 3 it is described as a realm beyond Hel to which the wicked are sent.

Chapter 44
In Heathen mythology, Freya and her brother are associated with boars.

Chapter 45
In Heathen mythology, the gods tried to prevent Ragnarok by binding the great wolf, Fenris. Tiw/Tyr was the only god willing to place his hand in Fenris’ mouth, as a pledge of honour. He lost the hand. The story is in the Prose Edda, Gylfaginning 34.

‘halefast and frithgiven’ is my mashup of Anglo Saxon and modern English. ‘hale’ means whole or healthy, fast is joined together (as in fastened) and frith conveys peace and security.

The Midgard (Midearth) serpent was another child of Loki’s – a massive serpent that spanned the earth.

There is a lost tale in Heathen mythology about Loki taking the shape of a seal. The story is alluded to in the Prose Edda Skaldskaparmal 8.  

Unusually among the gods of Heathen mythology, Loki doesn’t bear arms.

Michael’s memories are drawn from the British and French myths about Merlin. The references are to the tales of Vortigern, Vivienne/Nimue, The Lady of the Lake, Merlin’s imprisonment and Arthurian tales of Camelot.

Chapter 46
There is evidence from early medieval texts that Heathen cultures used ceremonial rings for swearing oaths.

Chapter 49
Weregold is my rendition of wergild: the price of restitution for harm to people or property in early medieval Heathen societies. This was embodied in early English law.

Chapter 51
Kel-Tec manufactured a plastic gun in 1999.

Chapter 53
Landwight is a modern Heathen term for nature spirits tied to the land. Wight is derived from an Anglo Saxon word for creature.

Chapter 55
Cotswold Lions exist. So do sheep badgers in the Forest of Dean.

The Gundestrup Cauldron is an ancient artefact famous for its image of Cernunnos.