Posts Tagged ‘ giant ’

Was King Arthur Real? King or Giant? The Facts as I See Them

Picture of Arthur looking for the holy grail

‘Arthur’, courtesy of Hartwig HKD under the Creative Commons 2.0 no deriv license available here: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/

The Who, What, Where and Why of King Arthur is a convoluted tale but I will attempt to break it down to the basics.

The Who

“King Arthur” is billed as the King of ancient Albion* and Arthur, supposedly, fought the Anglo-Saxon invaders. There are legends of him as a man, leader and fantastical creature which have filtered down to us today. These follow two strands: the man, and the giant.

For those interested in Etymology, the true meaning of ‘Arthur’ is unknown but there have been some estimations:

The Celtic ‘artos’ means ‘bear’, ‘viros’ is ‘man’ and ‘rigos’, ‘king’. There is also an uncommon Roman surname ‘Artorius’ in the running. In addition, the old Welsh ‘gwr’ means ‘hero’, which could be combined with the Celtic ‘Artos’.

Whatever the origins, Arthur is now a reasonably common name. If even some of the predicted origins are correct, it also has an amazing meaning! ‘Bear hero’, ‘bear king’…or he could be a wayward descendent of the Romans (not quite so interesting).

In the Cotswolds, I grew up with tales that Arthur was buried within a hill in the countryside, ready to rise to England’s defence, should we face attack again. The question is, where would that attack be coming from? What species would be coming at Britain, swords out?

The meaning of Arthur which carries most weight with me, lies in the concept of Arthur as a hero, battling ferocious beasts.

Now, why would I say that?

*(the name for England and Scotland before the Romans changed it to Britannia and eventually it became Britain / The United Kingdom).

The What

geometric image of arthur with foreign calligraphy writing

‘Parsifal’, courtesy of Hartwig HKD and used under the CC 2.0 no deriv license available here: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/

Arthur: The King?

Is King Arthur really a King? Or, is Arthur a fixture in British folklore? Historians have argued it and said there is no definitive proof he was a King, especially as he was not listed in any known Kings lists of the time and had no direct contemporary mention under his name. In fact, the monk Gildas in The Ruin and Conquest of Britain gave a different person’s name as Briton’s leader: Ambrosius Aurelianus.

This man shares many similarities with the commonly told tale of Arthur, fighting in and winning a big battle against the Anglo-Saxons during the 5th Century. However, it is a quantum leap from Arthur to Ambrosius, even if spelling conventions back then were a little ropey.

There is no mention of Arthur’s court, round table, Merlin or Guinevere in some of the oldest tales. Instead, we have something quite different.

Snippets allude to a soldier with no parallel. For example, in ‘Y Goddin’, Arthur is referred to indirectly, with warriors being described as good but ‘no Arthur’.

It is generally accepted that Geoffrey of Monmouth (in the 12th Century), concocted the tale of King Arthur because the Celts needed a hero (and he was probably bored) but, this is not an end to the folklore and the magic.

unicorn running from stonehenge

‘open your mind, courtesy of danijela dannie under the CC 2.0 generic license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Arthur: The Giant?

On looking into historical references to Arthur, a representation is found that does not portray him as King. Instead, he is a folkloric, heroic leader. In these descriptions, he’s a figure far more on the edge of society than a regal representative.

He is described as ‘the leader of a band of heroes who live outside society, whose main world is one of magical animals, giants, and other wonderful happenings, located in the wild parts of the landscape’.

(By very definition, I do not think a King – at least, a good one with actual followers – could live outside society).

Or, even more fantastically, as:

‘above all else…a defender of his country against every kind of danger, both internal and external: a slayer of giants and witches, a hunter of monstrous animals — giant boars, a savage cat monster, a winged serpent (or dragon)’

Who wouldn’t want to know this guy? He’d sure as anything be less likely to snub you than a King would.

To me, this is far more interesting than the dry tale of yet another King. Fantasy and legend has had its share of Kings, Queens, bastards of a prince once removed, and so on. History is far more interesting when it has a unique twist.

A suggestion of a world still populated with fantastical, magical animals and creatures, gives me the space to imagine a Britain of the Dark Ages where Science was not yet real and magic and superstition still had their foundations in society. One could even imagine, perhaps, that these things were real, an age ago.

Why

Yes, I’m aware this is out of ‘strict’ order, but it’s more interesting this way, promise.

So, Arthur is on the scene with otherworldly creatures, battling in the defence of Briton. Why?

Well, folklore suggests Arthur and his relatives were themselves giants, or could at least alter their height. So, they’d fit right in! Who better to fight a supernatural hoard than a friendly giant? (Cue B.F.G. anyone? Ah – the memories.)

Even the equivalent of Guinevere in the older tales, Gwenhwyfar, has magical leanings. There was a popular folk tune in Wales:

Gwenhwyfar ferch Ogrfan Gawr

Drwg yn fechan, gwaeth yn fawr.

“Gwenhwyfar, daughter of Ogrfan Gawr,

Bad when little, worse when great.”

(Now, this one reminds me of the hulk!)

Where

broken cliff face with open hole to sea

‘Not so square view to sea’, courtesy of francois schnell under the CC 2.0 generic license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Arthur’s resting place is a tricky subject. He was here, then there, then somewhere else again. Some claims were likely for monetary gain, others had false information and some, admittedly, have a certain Romance. The TLDR version is that no one can agree. So, until he pops up out the ground, he’ll keep us guessing!

Summing Up

I love history, especially when there is an aspect of the unknown and the paranormal, two of my very favourite subjects. I love to think we as a race don’t know everything and that there is a possibility the magical still exists, somewhere we’ve not found/seen it yet. I, for one, refuse to kill a fairy. It is, after all, impossible to disprove a negative and there is still so much to be discovered.

Research

I did a lot of research on this topic a while back, when laying the foundations for my fantasy-crime novel While I Slept, which has since turned into ‘The Riftkeeper Series’, based around what would happen if Arthur (a fantasy soldier rather than a King) awoke in the modern day and all the supernatural creatures of his time re-entered our lives simultaneously. In short: few good things.

Sources, Sites and Further Reading

Early Mentions in History

http://www.britannia.com/history/docs/stanzas.html

The Man-giant and Gwenhwyfar

http://www.celtnet.org.uk/gods_g/gwenhwyfar.html

http://www.arthuriana.co.uk/n&q/figures.htm

http://www.pbs.org/mythsandheroes/myths_four_arthur.html

http://www.history.co.uk/shows/king-arthurs-round-table-revealed/articles/the-real-king-Arthur

http://www.caerleon.net/history/arthur/page2.htm

http://www.history.com/news/ask-history/was-king-arthur-a-real-person

http://www.britainexpress.com/History/King_Arthur.htm

http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/ancient/anglo_saxons/arthur_01.shtml

http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/history/top-10-clues-to-the-real-king-arthur-2024729.html

Etymology of the name

http://www.behindthename.com/name/Arthur

http://mons-graupius.co.uk/index.php/linguistic/96-etymology-of-the-name-Arthur

http://www.surnamedb.com/Surname/Arthur

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Changing Surroundings – My Novel – Whilst I Slept

Holly Ice Writer Writing Novel Author Whilst I Slept WIP

Typing in the Altered Dark

(For my musings, read below. For a rough synopsis of the book to come and my concept of what main characters look like, scroll down to the bold text.)

 

It gets to the point with any long-term project where months have passed and something needs to change. I’m at the place in my novel Whilst I Slept where I’m questioning everything.

I’ve questioned the title and the relevance of the “I” with more than one first person POV, I’ve questioned whether my characters are believable, whether the story will sell, whether I should listen to more music as I write…I’ve even questioned whether the LED colour of my keyboard suits this section of my novel.

But I don’t think this is a problem. Many writers will and that is their writing style – awesome. I’m actually beginning to be comfortable with how I write and understand my “vibes” (such a corny word) when I write. 

I can tell that fuzzy, off-focus feeling when I’m inspired, I can feel when a sentence isn’t right, when a word is off but it’ll have to wait for later, and when a character needs something (though it’s much harder to tell what!)

I think a lot of this is down to me being roughly two thirds of the way through my manuscript. At 64K~ things need to heat up, speed up and get good. To do that to the best of my ability, I had to do a first full edit of the first half.

Why? Because I had one of those pesky, insistent vibes that, if I didn’t, the book would go entirely off course and my reward is that, so far, things seem to be coming together. I even got high praise from my little brother and that’s a rare thing.

From now on, I’m listening to my instincts and putting faith in the hope they will make me a better writer. Let me know if you get these “vibes” too. I don’t want to be alone out here!

 

The Book and The Cast

WARNING: this synopsis is a rough first draft, is probably too long, and needs work. Don’t get the knives out yet but feel free to critique it.

Annie Vivant likes to dig up hillsides in her spare time. Only, on this dig, she finds a coffin with a man inside…and he’s still alive. He introduces himself as Arthur but he is no King and, with his awakening, the Otherworld, an adjoined land of dark, fairytale creatures, reconnects to our own.

After so long apart, neither world remembers the other and the old laws of mutual existence are forgotten. Arthur is the only known link to the old ways but he needs Annie’s help to understand the modern world.

After a bout of killings and disappearances from a human world unable to protect itself, their mission becomes clear. It will be a tough battle for them to negotiate an end to the murders when the press want them to be their newest celebrities and the government see them as a security risk. The trick is to not look crazy. 

 Hopefully that wetted your appetite. If not, I’d love to know why – every opinion provides interesting feedback.

In the mean time…enjoy some model photos of what I imagine the main characters to look like:

Annie Vivant: I wanted Annie to have a girl-next-door feel to her and this picture is as close to my mind’s eye view of her as I’ve yet found. The closest I’ve gotten to representing her visually is a Sims 3 character I’ve made, based on my idea of her.

Annie Vivant, Arthur, King Arthur, Whilst I Slept, While, While I Slept, Holly Ice, Novel, WIP, Writer, Author
Arthur: Because of his occupation as a soldier, Arthur is tough, muscular and battle trained but he is also attractive. This is a hard mix to find in model photos. Again, this is the best to date. Just imagine the hair longer and messier: he’s not a vain guy (which is one of the many reasons this photo is not quite right for him). 

Annie Vivant, Arthur, King Arthur, Whilst I Slept, While, While I Slept, Holly Ice, Novel, WIP, Writer, Author

Katrin: As Arthur’s old love, Katrin has a ghostly part to play in most of the first novel but I think later in the planned series, she will be a much larger part of proceedings. She is a politician of the Otherworld, good at negotiations and easy to like – when she wants you to like her. Katrin, Annie Vivant, Arthur, King Arthur, Whilst I Slept, While, While I Slept, Holly Ice, Novel, WIP, Writer, Author
Katrin, Annie Vivant, Arthur, King Arthur, Whilst I Slept, While, While I Slept, Holly Ice, Novel, WIP, Writer, Author

Brent: Another half-Giant but Brent is tougher than tough, on the outside. I needed him muscular – built- with a tan from being outside and shaved head. I see him with hacked cut-offs and boots. Apparently, this too is hard to find. I made do with his boots.

Brent, Katrin, Annie Vivant, Arthur, King Arthur, Whilst I Slept, While, While I Slept, Holly Ice, Novel, WIP, Writer, Author

Farah: Was one of the easiest characters to find a picture for. I have about three that fit her personality.

Farah, Brent, Katrin, Annie Vivant, Arthur, King Arthur, Whilst I Slept, While, While I Slept, Holly Ice, Novel, WIP, Writer, AuthorFarah, Brent, Katrin, Annie Vivant, Arthur, King Arthur, Whilst I Slept, While, While I Slept, Holly Ice, Novel, WIP, Writer, AuthorImage

Keeping appearances consistent

If I haven’t introduced it already then here it is: Charahub

This is a site where you can create an account – for free- which will hold all details of your characters in a database. You can set it to private or public and it asks many questions which have helped me round out my characters without boring myself over laborious character sheets for hours. 

 

Illustrators and Book Covers

I used to be an artist (perhaps I still am, sometimes) but this means I’m picky. I want my cover to be an accurate portrayal of the characters and the story, something I can see within my mind’s eye AND something which will sell for both the fantasy genre and the crime genre.

If you have any recommendations of illustrators or other artists which may be interested in my project or do book covers as commissions, please direct me to their portfolio. Thanks!

 

I hope this piece gets everyone up to date on my writing progress and – if I dare to say it – has got you interested in my novel WIP.

Would love to hear from you.

Holly Ice 

 

The Inspiration of Myth & “King” Arthur

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The last few months I’ve been reading up on myth and legend. They’ve given me some great ideas for stories but not just as-is. In an altered format, they can create something original and (hopefully) brilliant.

I’ve learnt writers cannot be afraid to change things: this is our job. The world as it comes to us is not always suitable for a retelling – bits may need rearranging, adding, subtracting…but let’s not get into the realm of maths here: we’re creatives after all.

Also, do not be afraid to take a tale like Cinderella or Thumbelina and make it contemporary, change the sex of characters, or setting, or emphasis. If you make this decision in order to create a new story, don’t be afraid to leave it unique!

Put in new names, clothes, etc! Let it be new, let the inspiration, the myth or tale that spawned your story, disappear. It will still be an influence or a starting point but your reader doesn’t necessarily need to know it was for you to have a great story.

As a last little tip to those who want to go further and learn more while they’re at it: unpick the myth. Find the meaning of the names, the places and their significance. Find where or how the myth started, whether it is based on fact or legend or religion.

King-Arthur-Butler-L

I’ve found in my exploration of the King Arthur legends that Arthur was not historical at all but a myth which is first mentioned in welsh poetry. The discovery of these early mentions created a whole new vision of Arthur – a man of the Otherworld, fae, faerie, enchantresses, giants and the supernatural. He is still a hero fighting off bad forces for Britain but these are supernatural rather than historical forces.

Based on this research, I actually have a novel idea in the brewing stages. A novel where Arthur is a crime fighter of the supernatural world, once he is awaken. I’ve bought books on the Celts and Arthur in order for other titbits of Celtic religion and myth to inspire me in this project.

So, I know it sounds kind of boring…but research can be fun! The Arthur research was a mix of documentary-like reading  and old, bard-like tales of the unbeatable warrior.

Some of these old texts are very accessible and actually very enjoyable! I laughed aloud at a few and *may* have found the original inspiration for The Hulk!

Hope this helps those stuck with writer’s block. Anything on the page in a first draft is the first step!

And, as always, feel free to follow me on twitter.

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