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
Bogles are a type of Scots and Northumbrian fay. I've drawn from Katharine Briggs' description of them.

Chapter 2
Izzy uses three exclamations: Ragnarok, North and down, and gods and ancestors. In the Heathen mythology, Ragnarok is the end of the world, while 'gods and ancestors' are focuses of reverence. In Hermod's ride to Hel, in the Prose Edda Gyfaginning 49 Hermod is told the road to Hel lies down and to the north.

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

Lawspeaker was the title of the top legal office in Scandinavian countries, from around the 10th century until the 13th to 14th centuries. It derives from the need for this person to memorise and recite the law. In Iceland, the Lawspeaker was also an arbiter. I’ve changed the role to that of a judge.

Chapter 4
I stole 'birthright' from the Society of Friends, as a concept for someone born into something.

Following the defeat of Cromwell's Roundheads, royalty was reinstated in England in the shape of Charles II who changed many things in the country.

A canine nose really is that sharp.

Chapter 5
In Anglo Saxon England, a thane (thegn in Anglo Saxon) was a noble below the rank of ealdorman.

Brownie is the Scots name for popular 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. They are generally below normal human height.

Selkies are a Scots/Icelandic/Faroese/Irish type of fay, very like the Scandinavian swan maiden in that they need their skin to transform into a seal.

Chapter 6
The Daoine Sidhe are the Irish equivalent of elves.

In the pre-Christian Germanic/Scandinavian/English religion (the modern version is called Heathenry), there were nine worlds - the main ones being for gods, elves, ettins and humans.

In popular culture, silver is regarded as harmful to Weres.

Chapter 7
Mara is the Old Norse for malevolent night spirits. The Anglo Saxon 'mare' gives us our modern English 'nightmare'. I've tweaked that to produce my version.

In the Lokasenna in the Poetic Edda, Loki taunts Tyr (the Norse equivalent of the English god Tiw) with the claim that he fathered a son on Tiw's wife. The wife is not named and there is no mention of werewolves

The Old Norse word for fetch 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.

A fetch (ON fylgja/Anglo Saxon fæcce) is an ancient Heathen concept. It forms a part of the person though it’s also separate. They generally took the shape of an animal.

Seelie and Unseelie is a Scots concept of splitting the fay into good and bad.

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

The representation of AWE is based on real trade union work.

Chapter 8
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 9
There is a legal concept of 'reasonable belief' in UK employment law, which has the effect described.

Chapter 10
Golems are from Jewish folklore.

Chapter 11
The representation of tribunal procedure and pre-hearing negotiations is accurate to English practice in 1999.

Saywife is my modernisation of the pre-Christian Heathen role of seiðkona. It's play on the pronunciation of the word. However, I've changed it from an enchanter/seeress to healer.

It is possible for solicitors to become barristers in the English legal system. However, it's rare.

Chapter 14
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 15
Ambrose was one of the names of Merlin.

Chapter 16
Wight (Anglo Saxon) = creature. In modern Heathenry, the word is applied to nature spirits.

Chapter 17
In Heathen mythology, Muspelheim (Firehome is a direct translation) is one of the Nine Worlds.

Chapter 18
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 19
Ulfhednar/ulfhedinn (Old Norse: plural/singular) are from Heathen mythology. They were berserkers who changed into wolves, rather than bears.

Chapter 20
Disir (Old Norse) are female ancestors. They have nothing to do with Wish Hounds in 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 21
Tír na nÓg is one of the names of the otherworld in Irish mythology.

Chapter 22
Gabriel’s Hounds/Ratchets are from northern English folklore.

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

The Cŵn Annwn are the hounds of the underworld, in Welsh mythology. Their cries were said to grow softer the closer they came.

A normal lynx can leap two metres straight upwards. I've scaled that up for Sam.

Chapter 23
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

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 Nine Herbs Charm.

Chapter 24
Geoffrey of Monmouth, in his runaway (and very unreliable) bestseller Historia Regum Britanniae gives Merlin's name as Merlinus Ambrosius.

Chapter 24
Nixie or neck is the 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 real. Including the reason why Geoffrey of Monmouth changed the name to Merlin.

Breton folklore places Broceliande in Brittany. Legend has it that Merlin stood on a rock in Broceliande to make rain.

Elizabeth I had a court magician called Dr Dee.

Chapter 25
Landwight is a modern Heathen term for nature spirits tied to the land. Wight is a rendition of an Anglo Saxon word for creature that modern Heathens tend to use only to refer to the fay.

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 26
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 as 'let us return to the matter under discussion' is a French idiom that migrated into popular English.

Thomas Paine wrote a popular pamphlet called Common Sense (1776) proclaiming the United States’ role as an asylum for liberty.

Orlog is a concept from the Heathen religion and ancient texts, related to wyrd. It can be expressed as the sum total of everything that has made someone the person they are.

Chapter 28
At the time this book was written, Hereford Police Station was actually in Gaol Street, Hereford.

Chapter 29
WPC = woman police officer (British police forces until 1998).

Chapter 30
The Chase Hotel in Ross on Wye exists, though I've enhanced parts of it.

Chapter 31
In 1999, all-region DVD players were either not available or else well out of the price range of most consumers.

In Heathen mythology, Fimbulwinter is a three-year winter that precedes the coming of Ragnarok. See the Prose Edda Gylfaginning 51.

The Crime and Disorder Act 1998 made hate crime illegal in England, Wales, and Scotland.

Chapter 32
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.

Silvanus is a Roman god associated with the borders between domesticated and wild land. In some ways he resembles Cernunnos.

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

Sessrumnir is recorded as the name of Freya’s hall in the Prose Edda.

Chapter 34
Finbheara is variously described as king of the Connacht fairies, king of the Daoine Sidhe or King of the Dead. He and his wife lived in Cnoc Meadha (also spelled Knockmagha, Knockma, or Knock Ma), a hill west of Tuam, County Galway, in Ireland. He had a reputation for kidnapping human women.

Chapter 35
The therapeutic index exists. All descriptions in the book of the process of developing a new drug in 1999 is true.

Chapter 39
Aconbury - like other places mentioned in the book - exists.

Modern Herefordshire is roughly the Anglo Saxon kingdom of Magonsætan.

A variety of Heathen myths are mentioned in the description of the chair. Hel is the name of a kingdom and also its ruler: the goddess Hel, a daughter of Loki. Ettins, or jotun, are powerful beings who are either fighting the gods in Asgard or marrying them. Muspelheim (Firehome is a direct translation) is one of the Nine Worlds. Norns are older than the gods and tend the world tree, Yggdrasil.

According to folklore, the fay are averse to iron.

Chapter 40

What is now Herefordshire and part of Worcestershire was the Anglo Saxon sub-kingdom of Magonset and Hwicce. As place names corrupt over time, I’ve rendered this as Manston and Wich.

Chapter 41
Brisingamen is a famous piece of jewellery that Freya wears.

Chapter 42
Anglo Saxon England and 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 43
The Tuatha De Danann are the ancient gods of Ireland.

Chapter 44
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 45
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 47
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 to fight with another of the gods. The story is alluded to in the Prose Edda Skaldskaparmal 8.

Unusually among the gods of Heathen mythology, Loki doesn't seem to bear arms. Although included in Asgard among the gods, his parents were ettins.

Michael's memories are all drawn from the British & French myths about Merlin. The references are to the tales of Vortigern, Vivienne/Nimue, the Lady of the Lake, the Old North tales of Myrddin Wyllt and Lailoken, Merlin's imprisonment and Arthurian tales of Camelot.

Chapter 51
Weregold is my rendition of wergild: the price of restitution for harm to people or property in Heathen societies. This was embodied in early English law.

Chapter 52
There are plastic guns. The firearms mentioned by Declan exist.

Chapter 58
What Michael says about sheep badgers in the Forest of Dean is true.

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