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Literature / The Dragonslaying Maiden

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"She held the gate of Denmark against the trolls!"

The Dragonslaying Maiden is a Heroic Fantasy novel by first-time American author Daniel Pertierra, published in 2017.

It's a day like any other in Valhalla, full of drinking and fighting and a whole lot of noise. What sets this day apart is that, when Odin tries to offer a toast to Dana the Dragonslaying Maiden, a figure of some importance in the years before the Viking age, nobody knows who he's talking about. This greatly unnerves the All-Father, who was an active participant in the events surrounding her.

Retiring from the hall, he can't let the matter rest despite the pleading of his ravens. Melancholy and resolved, he decides to revisit the tale and commit it to writing: as an active player in the events of her story of magic, betrayal, warfare and personal discovery, he's got a lot of things to say about this forgotten heroine from a time when monsters still roamed the Earth.


It starts with a little girl named Linda, who outgrew her home in a big way and went on to change the world...

The Dragonslaying Maiden provides examples of:

  • 10-Minute Retirement: After the rest of the Bronze Fangs complete their Face–Heel Turn and nearly kill her, Dana falls into a deep depression and mopes around in the wilderness for a few months. In the process, she inadvertently saves the life of Desire, one of Odin’s two ravens. Odin covertly arranges to get her back on her feet and gain a new purpose in life. This proves instrumental in defeating Queen Gunna, the trolls, and the Bronze Fangs in the end.
  • Action Heroine: Dana, the eponymous Dragonslaying Maiden, of course. Moving through the world of Norse mythology with an enchanted sword, a mountain of armor, and enough determination to build a wall from.
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  • Action Politician: Harald the Lion, King of Mersingland. He's an old man who, when his kingdom comes under attack, is the first to throw on some armor, take up his magical axe, and fight in the front lines. His courage inspires his people to fight to the death for him. But not even he’s a big enough badass to defeat the Bronze Fangs alone.
  • The Alliance: After the Bronze Fangs drive Gunna’s trolls out of Mersingland and back into Dagrfell, Harald starts to put together an army from the friends of the deposed Queen Gunnhild, hoping to avenge her death and stop Gunna from launching more attacks. The Alliance only comes together in the wake of the Battle of Overwatch. By then, it's too late: Gunna’s older trolls have become combat veterans, she’s flooded their ranks with new creations, and the Bronze Fangs have switched sides to join her. The Alliance is smashed in the ensuing war, and the various members return to their homelands to defend their own borders against the rising darkness. Dagrfell proceeds to pick them off one-by-one.
  • All-Loving Hero: What Dana tries to be, after accidentally crippling her brother. Unfortunately, growing huge and monstrous and without anywhere left to turn to, she throws in her lot with the Bronze Fangs, who are a bunch of anti-heroes.
  • All Myths Are True: Odin, chief god of the Norse pantheon, is apparently still bitter about the Judeo-Christian God edging him out of Scandinavia.
  • All-Powerful Bystander: Odin could probably take on a more direct role and fix many of the world’s problems if he applied himself, but he’s decided to let the humans and monsters that live on Midgard take care of their own problems while he contents himself with running the cosmos. This doesn’t mean that he can’t return a favor when someone saves one of his ravens, though.
  • Annoying Arrows: Averted. One arrow shot into a fully-armored or well-shielded warriors doesn’t do a whole lot, and some walk away with arrows sticking out of their gambesons and mail like pincushions. However, there’re usually dozens of archers shooting into dense formations, they inevitably find gaps in armor or exposed parts of faces, and they put people down.
  • Anti-Hero: What Alfarr the Mad, Regin the Dragonheart, and Ashling the Storm of the Bronze Fangs predominately consist of. They fight for money and favors, and aren't particularly picky about what they’re hired to do. Up until Dana met them, they happened to be hired by people with morals and came to be known as heroes for the things they did. This lasts until Gunna Heroesbane, the Queen of Dagrfell, hires them out from her rival King Harald of Mersingland’s service.
  • Arcadia: Dana’s hometown, the Valley of Egil’s Thane (or Egil’s Vale, for short) sounds like this. An isolated location somewhere in the alps where a community of dwarves till the land, tend to orchards, make jewelry, and raise animals. Young Linda is heartbroken when she has to leave it, and she changes her name to Dana in recognition that she’s no longer the same girl who left.
  • Armor Is Useless: Averted. Those without armor are quickly picked off. Helmets, chainmail, and shields save many lives (or, at least, prolong them) and most deaths or injuries occur when victims are struck in the unarmored limbs. Played straight in the final battle between Dana and the Bronze Fangs in the Western Pass, when characters are hurling meteors and lightning bolts and striking blows with enough force to shake mountains. At that point, there’s only so much that chainmail, linen, and wood can defend against.
  • Asskicking Equals Authority: In the land of Norse Mythology, this is to be expected. Frost’s End decides that Dana, who just killed the dragon that slew its previous leader, should become Jarl. Apparently, Heroism Equals Job Qualification.
  • Attack! Attack! Attack!: Regin the Dragonheart's default tactic. It's usually enough to slaughter whole armies, but he can’t take as good as he gives. A single opponent with enough durability, like Njall the Ogre King, can withstand him long enough to knock him senseless. He tries this against Dana in their final confrontation. By then, she’s both stronger and more skilled than him, and she’s intimately familiar with his style. Though their struggle is intense, the outcome is never in question.
  • Back from the Dead: To the Bronze Fangs, seeing Dana again two years after they thought that they killed her certainly seems like this. After all combatants mutually kill each other in the final clash in the Western Pass, Odin pulls it off for real and returns Dana to life: she had one boon left for saving Desire, and he couldn't give it to her if she was dead. The Bronze Fangs aren't so fortunate.
  • Badass Normal: Everyone without a magic weapon or spiffy powers. This includes just about everyone beyond the main characters, who are generally willing to pick up a spear and join a shield-wall when the situation calls for it.
  • Bad Boss: Gunna Heroesbane, Queen of Dagrfell. Exiled from her homeland after a failed bid for the throne, she quietly accrued sorcerous power and created an army of trolls from the native rock. She expends them like candy and, at one point, is noted to have slain several retainers for not minding their manners in her presence. It’s implied that the only reason that she doesn’t abuse the Bronze Fangs is that she fears them, and she wants to avoid having them turn on her. She’s overjoyed when Dana finishes them off at Frost’s End because it’s one less thing to worry about.
  • Battle Trophy: The Bronze Fangs got their name by a practice of taking the fangs of monsters they’ve slain and coating them in bronze, and then wearing them as tokens indicating membership into the group. They keep up the practice while working for Gunna. Alfarr the Mad has many such fangs dangling from his spear and Regin the Dragonheart's stuck a pair of horns onto his helmet.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Averted. Once she becomes a draugr, Dana is nightmarish.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Dana was the shortest girl in a village of dwarves. Her brother teased her relentlessly over it, and she wished that she’d be so tall that nobody could ever tease her over it again. Boy howdy, did her wish come true...
  • Benevolent Genie: Played With. Odin owes three boons or blessings to anyone who gets his ravens out of a bind. So, when Dana saves the raven Desire from a band of dark elves, Odin intercedes on her behalf three times. This instance is somewhat unusual in that, rather than a wish being made and Odin granting it, Odin simply discerns what the giftee wants and makes it possible for the recipient to achieve their desire: they must work toward it themselves. They needn’t even directly make a wish or three: he’ll simply work in their best interest whether they like it or not, and it’s up to them to take the bait.
  • The Berserker: Regin, who's essentially this without the word ever actually coming up despite, bizarrely, the story being set in a time and place where it would make absolute sense. Dana becomes this at the end after becoming a Draugr, succumbing to her rage when the Bronze Fangs refuse to acknowledge their guilt from two years prior at Overwatch. Not even death can slow her down.
  • Big Damn Heroes: The Bronze Fangs, twice.
    • First, when Dana arrives at the village of Godwin’s Fjord to find it overrun with ogres. She’s Unskilled, but Strong at this point and takes out a couple of ogres before they can retaliate. But, when they do, they team up and overwhelm her like a pack of wolves, maneuvering her into a corner, binding her shield, and locking up her sword. Just as they’re about to finish her off, the Bronze Fangs (remarkably strong soldiers of fortune with remarkably few scruples) show up. They were there to sell off some plunder, but they leap into action when a fight presents itself. They nearly turn on Dana right there, mistaking the Giant Woman for another ogre, but they hear her out and join her in hunting down the rest of the ogres. Afterward, they’re impressed-enough by her strength and potential that they let her join them.
    • Second, when Queen Gunna of Dagrfell and her army of trolls invade Mersingland. At the start, the Bronze Fangs were away on a mission at Harald’s request, finding a way to reach Mani the Moon God to save him from a celestial wolf chasing him through the night sky. Much of Mersingland was razed, and the trolls made it all the way to the walls of Harald’s capital. They actually break through, and the defenders are forced to cede ground and everything looks like it’s going to get worse and worse... until the Bronze Fangs return. Having driven off the wolf, they look back down at Norway and see sorcerous clouds covering Mersingland. Owing them a solid, Mani hurls the Bronze Fangs back to Earth on an enchanted spear and they go on a rampage through the troll host. The carnage is so great that Gunna orders a retreat for Dagrfell until she can find a way to best them.
  • Big Bad: Gunna Heroesbane, Queen of Dagrfell. Necromancer and all-around unpleasant lady to work for. She begins the story in exile from Dagrfell, having lost out on her bid for her father's throne to her sister Gunnhild, who everyone adored. Right when the Bronze Fangs head off to save the Moon God, Gunna leads an army of trolls into Dagrfell to reclaim it. Once she does, she sets her sights on world conquest. Once she tempts the Bronze Fangs into her service, it becomes disturbingly likely to happen.
  • Big Good: Harald the Lion, King of Mersingland, is a generally benevolent figure who hires out the Bronze Fangs for lofty ends, even promising them riches and titles. Later in the story, after Gunna kills Harald, Odin takes over.
  • Black Magician Girl: Ashling the Storm, a dwarf with a fiery attitude who can call down lighting from a clear sky or hurl it from her hands. Alongside Alfarr the Mad, she provides most of the Bronze Fangs’ ranged capabilities.
  • Boisterous Bruiser: Regin the Dragonheart, so very much. Laughing with the joy of the fight and taunting his foes over their imminent demise, he makes good on his words and amasses a staggering body-count.
  • Bookends: The story begins with Odin in the present day, sitting down and writing his account of Dana’s life after learning that her story’s been forgotten. It ends with him finishing the tale and sending it out into the world in hopes that he can revive her legend.
  • Boring, but Practical: This is Oswald Steelskin’s shtick in the Bronze Fangs. Regin the Dragonheart rushes headlong into battle and sometimes gets in trouble because of his recklessness. Ashling the Storm hurls lightning at her enemies with abandon. Alfarr the Mad summons meteor-storms to bombard his enemies into submission. Oswald... tanks. He doesn’t do anything flashy, and he’s quiet on the battlefield. He goes out with a club and shield and more chainmail than anyone will ever need, and he takes care of business in the simplest, most expedient way possible. He becomes Dana’s mentor when she joins the Bronze Fangs, and she adopts his simple-but-effective tactics as her own while taking advantage of her immense size and strength.
  • Bring News Back: Baldwin the Jarl bites it in the troll war’s first skirmish so that one of his retainers can ride back to Harald with word of the invasion.
  • Bulletproof Human Shield: While fighting the Bronze Fangs at Frost’s End, Dana loses her shield. When Alfarr calls down a meteor swarm on her just after she impales Oswald, she uses his still-moving body as a shield. This is what finally puts him down.
  • Canon Foreigner: Ogres aren’t native to Norse mythology. They literally emigrated from France just to add some variety to the mooks. Their defeat is cited as the reason why they don’t show up again in Scandinavia: the Bronze Fangs beat them so thoroughly that they’re scared to come back.
  • Cavalry Betrayal: The elderly, children, and infirm of Frost’s End evacuate while Dana and the rest of the villagers hold the Western Pass against the trolls’ invasion. When these refugees arrive in the neighboring kingdom and are greeted by a local jarl named Rollo, they tell him of the struggle behind them. Rollo amasses an army of his own and goes to join the defense, recognizing that his king’s lands will be the next in Dagrfell’s sights if Frost’s End falls. He arrives too late for the battle, and sees that the population is maimed and Dana missing. Sensing an opportunity, Rollo instead attempts to annex Frost’s End into his master’s kingdom. This goes poorly and, despite their exhaustion and injuries, the villagers fight the new invaders. Thankfully, Dana returns before more people die, and the sight of a twelve-foot behemoth of a woman with murder in her eyes is enough to convince Rollo and his men to leave.
  • Character Narrator: The story is presented as having been written by Odin, who was a participant in its events.
  • The Chick: Despite being a powerful swordswoman, this is Dana’s role in the Bronze Fangs. She tries getting everyone to get along, do good things for goodness’s sake, and generally act as The Heart of the group. Unfortunately, she refuses to accept Gunna’s offer to join Dagrfell’s forces for this reason, and the rest of the Bronze Fangs turn on her to seal their pact with Gunna. After her 10-Minute Retirement she shakes off a lot of the idealism and becomes a mild Knight in Sour Armor.
  • Chronic Hero Syndrome: Dana came down with a heavy case of this after nearly killing her twin brother out of anger, seemingly to make up for what she did. The Bronze Fangs’ insistence on doing things for money runs counter to this trope and causes a good deal of friction until they part ways on bloody terms. Odin, when he wants to get her back on her feet, capitalizes on this by figuratively giving her a map with "Here Be Dragons!" marked on it.
  • Clever Crows: Thought and Desire are Odin’s two ravens, who go out into the world every day to bring back news of Midgard’s happenings. Desire, at least, is a sarcastic bird who uses reverse psychology to get people to do what he wants but also offers heartfelt advice. Thought is less snarky, and he’s a better spy than his brother. Odin cherishes them as though they were his own flesh and blood, and he'll help anyone who helps them out of a bind and send his wolves after anyone who harms them. When Dana saves them from a gang of dark elves, Odin directs his ravens to aid her in the struggles ahead as he does his own share of returning the favor.
  • Coming-of-Age Story: At its heart, this is the story of a young woman finding her place in the world as she realizes that she no longer belongs with her own kind. She ventures out into the great unknown to discover who she really is, what she can do, and where she can make a living for herself. It's a long and violent journey, but she eventually finds people who love her for who she is and she settles down with them. She gains the means to become a dwarf again and live out her days in her hometown, but she’s come to peace with who she is and no longer desires to go back.
  • Conscience Makes You Go Back: What Odin and Desire invoke to break Dana out of her 10-Minute Retirement. After everything she’s been through, she just wants to crawl into a hole and die. Then Odin has Desire mention to her that the innocent village of Frost’s End is falling prey to a dragon’s predations and fly away, leaving her to wrestle with the knowledge that hundreds will die if she keeps moping. It works.
  • Cool Sword. Dawnsbrand, the sword that Dana received for wrestling a draugr back to its grave, grows hotter, longer, and brighter as her legend grows. The fact that Odin sees it as a rusty and tiny wall-hanger in the present is a clue that she's been forgotten by history, and he hopes to see it return to its former glory one day. At its height, at the Battle of Frost’s End as the trolls start speaking of her and Odin’s ravens carry her story across the world, it becomes a Flaming Sword that shines with the light of the sun itself. When you’re fighting trolls who turn to stone in the sunlight, this is a very useful thing to have.
  • The Corrupter: Gunna Heroesbane, who triggered the fall of the Bronze Fangs. They were greedy before, and unscrupulous besides, but they only became figures of terror and infamy once they fell under her employ.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Typically occurs whenever the Bronze Fangs show up. King Harald of Mersingland benefited from this when they arrived late to the war against Dagrfell and broke the siege on his city. He falls on the receiving end of this when they switch sides, and they steamroll everything that Gunna points them at until they hit Frost’s End. Dana also pulls this on Regin in their final duel. He’s used to fighting weaker opponents than him, and he’s unprepared for a fight against someone who’s both stronger and cleverer than him, against whom brute force doesn’t work. By the end of it, Dana’s gotten in several solid hits, mangled his helmet, broken his weapon, and got the killing blow in. What infuriates him the most is that he failed to hit her once.
  • Curb Stomp Cushion: The following fight against the rest of the Bronze Fangs is a lot closer. Dana wins decisively, but she takes such a horrific beating in the process that she dies the moment the fight ends. Thankfully, Odin is a god of the dead and he still owes Dana a favor when all’s said and done.
  • Curse Cut Short: Profanity is pretty sparse throughout the novel. Alfarr the Mad, when asked what he’d like as a reward from a king who he feels has slighted him, doesn't get to finish his statement.
    "I think the crown of Dagrfell.
    To have a realm and rule it well.
    Be free from kings and bargains struck,
    To not begrudge or give..."
  • Cute Giant: Despite being built like a tank, towering over your average basketball player, and being really good at killing things, several people have commented on how pretty Dana is. They’re still unsettled by her brawn, though.
  • Damsel in Distress: None featured, but it’s stated that the Bronze Fangs occasionally rescue them for the right price.
  • David vs. Goliath: Unusually, the heroine is the Goliath figure in most parts of the story. But, she plays David against Njall the Ogre King and Eitr the Dragon.
  • Death from Above: Alfarr’s default strategy, but the standout example is the relief of Harald’s capital. The Bronze Fangs were missing during the initial invasion of Mersingland, heading into the sky to save Mani the Moon God from a pursuing wolf. Both sides of the battle forget or don’t know of them, and nobody was expecting Mani to hurl them into the heart of the battle on a giant spear. The impact alone kills hundreds of trolls.
  • Death Is a Slap on the Wrist: Because their creator can bring them back from the dead after they fall in combat, death is a learning experience for the trolls. Unlike a normal person, they get to learn from the mistakes that got them killed and work to avoid it the next time, which makes the older trolls a nightmare to fight. Once their creator is Killed Off for Real, their deaths are permanent.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: Sexism plays a major role in the story, but is handled as a product of the time period in which it’s set. As is the practice of infanticide in naming rituals...
  • Determinator: More than being a giantess, this is what gets Dana through her many battles. It even lets her ignore death until she finishes off Gunna and the Bronze Fangs in their final confrontation.
  • Dragged Off to Hell: Then, as now, betrayal is poorly received, and the Bronze Fangs and Gunna Heroesbane did a lot of it. After plunging most of Scandinavia into darkness and tyranny and turning against both the rule of law and those they’d fought alongside, Odin and Freyja refuse to accept them into Valhalla or Folkvangr. The last that anyone sees of them is the Valkyries hauling their souls down to Niflhel until the world’s ending. This trope is surprisingly averted with the trolls that served them: despite being the minions of the most wretched figures of the era, they showed enough courage and determination to impress the gods and Earn Your Happy Ending.
  • Draw Aggro: What Oswald and, under his instruction, Dana specialize in: they’re the two biggest members of the Bronze Fangs, and they take advantage of it. Their quarry focuses on one or both of them while Regin tears through the ranks and Alfarr and Ashling assail them from afar. Once Dana and the Bronze Fangs part ways, Dana keeps up this duty when she leads Frost’s End into battle against the trolls. The villagers’ entire strategy is to funnel the trolls toward Dana, while she punishes any troll who goes after the villagers. Then Regin attacks her alone and, without Oswald to back him up, is dispatched. Afterward, when Dana confronts the Bronze Fangs in their final struggle, Oswald draws aggro against Dana while the others attack her from the back ranks. Sure enough, once Oswald falls and he can’t protect them, the mages die in swift order.
  • The Dreaded: When the Bronze Fangs show up, everyone who opposes them either dies or runs away screaming. Even Gunna Heroesbane is terrified of them once she sees them in action and they force her into retreat. But then she realizes that they don’t care who pays them, and she has deeper pockets than her enemies.
  • Droit du Seigneur: Implied as one of Alfarr’s rewards for accepting Gunna’s offer to join Dagrfell as a petty king: he can pass whatever laws he wants in his territories without complaint from Gunna so long as he acknowledges her as his leader, and he can "play games with peasant brides". There are only so many ways to read that.
  • Dying as Yourself: Enraged by the Bronze Fangs, Dana can’t rest in peace when they slay her at Frost’s End. She rises from the dead as a draugr and, unable to die of her accumulating wounds as she draws on her rage, slays her old companions. As Gunna retreats, Dana mindlessly repeats the greedy words of the draugr she wrestled at Ingrid’s Dale and realizes that she’s become one herself, and that she'll only continue to grow more monstrous and violent the longer she persists: something that she’d feared since she hurt her brother by accident in a fit of rage. Realizing that the world has no place for a monster like she’s become, she throws her sword after Gunna and slays her. The battle done, she basks in the dawn’s light. At peace and freed from her rage, she collapses and dies of her wounds at last. It's short-lived, though: Odin is at hand with a rune to resurrect the dead, and he gives Dana the chance to live again.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: After growing too big to remain in her homeland, struggling with her rage, suffering a settlement’s fear of giants, fighting off a draugr, wandering the woods in constant struggle for a year, joining a mercenary band, fighting across Scandinavia for a year, being betrayed by that mercenary band, starving in the woods for another few months, fighting a dragon, defeating an invasion, dying, becoming a draugr, combatting her old mercenary companions, and then coming back to life, Dana is ready to retire. Odin can’t blame her, and he lets her live out her life in peace. It's implied that, upon her eventual death, she winds up in the peaceful hall of Gimle in Asgard, which means that she’ll be one of the few to survive Ragnarok.
  • The Empire: Dagrfell shows shades of this. Gunna Heroesbane reconquers her homeland after being exiled, and she immediately sets her sights on the rest of Scandinavia. Once that’s done, she fully intends to take on the rest of the world with an inexhaustible army. She gets Norway and much of the unsettled lands around it under her belt before her armies are destroyed and she and her champions are slain in battle. She spent so much effort expanding her lands and conquering her neighbors that she put no thought into an enduring State, and it promptly collapses without her.
  • Evil Is Bigger: Ogres tower over humans. Naturally, when their king steps out, he’s twice their size and nearly unstoppable. Eitr the Dragon is an even bigger example, big-enough to stomp on houses and wipe out a village so thoroughly that no-one would ever know that it existed in the first place.
  • Face–Heel Turn: The Bronze Fangs, about halfway through the novel. Most of the members were self-serving, sticking together out of expedience. They become dissatisfied with their treatment working under Harald the Lion, king of Mersingland, and jump ship to Dagrfell (the troll-nation of Queen Gunna) the moment she offers better pay. Dana’s refusal to join them nearly gets her killed.
  • Fallen Hero: Oswald is, perhaps, the only original member of the Bronze Fangs to be a hero through-and-through, fighting solely to protect his friends as they go out for riches and fame through battle. He refuses to turn on them when they descend into outright villainy, and they drag him down with them to share in the atrocities. Ultimately, the Valkyries drag the lot of them to Niflhel in response to their many sins.
  • Famed in Story: Subverted. In the present day, Odin believes that Dana is this when he raises a goblet in her honor in Valhalla. The fact that nobody knows who he’s talking about prompts him to write the story.
  • Feminist Fantasy: It’s the story of a young woman who grows up to be bigger and stronger than everyone else in a patriarchal society, smashing down gender barriers and gaining power and fame through her exploits. Another important aspect of her story is that, despite Odin giving her some guidance along the way, Dana has to literally fight her own battles. By the end, she becomes Jarl of a valley and leads a series of reforms that empower the women of her territory, she’s conquered an invading army, and she’s slain the former companions who betrayed her.
  • Fire Keeps It Dead: Gunna claims that because Dana killed Regin with a Flaming Sword imbued with the light of the sun, she can’t raise him. Seeing how she puts on a Psychotic Smirk as she asks the Bronze Fangs to kill his murderer so she can gain more power and overcome this restriction, she’s only ever revived her trolls with magic, and how she really wants the Bronze Fangs dead so they can’t threaten her, she may be lying.
  • First-Person Perspective: The entire novel is narrated by Odin, who’s recording the story in prose form so that it doesn’t go extinct. Throughout the story, he often adds his own opinions and observations. He also shows up a few times in character, and he directly impacts the plot.
  • Gentle Giant: Deep down, Dana’s a big softie who just wants to live in peace. Unfortunately, she lives right in the middle of Norse mythology, with Everything Trying to Kill You.
  • Giant Woman: Just look at the cover. Those aren't little kids standing next to the lady with a sword. Dana starts out as a dwarf less than two feet tall, leaves home at about five feet, joins a mercenary band at seven feet, is kicked out of it at eight feet, and then eats a dragon's heart which speeds up her final growth spurt until, at the very end, she stands nearly twelve feet tall. Her rapid growth kicks off the plot and drives a lot of its conflict.
  • Glass Cannon: Generally, anyone who casts a spell falls under this category. They may wear chainmail, but they’re frail under it.
  • Glowing Eyelights of Undeath: The draugr of Ingrid’s Dale sports two green lights in its eye sockets. upon her reanimation during the Battle of Frost’s End, Dana also develops these.
  • God Save Us from the Queen!: Gunna Heroesbane fits this trope to a T. In the process of reconquering her homeland from her sister, she explicitly killed everyone who lived there. She didn’t consider it much of a loss because, as a master of black magic, she could animate stones into armies of trolls who were utterly loyal to her. And, really, that’s just the start of Gunna’s villainy.
  • Good Is Not Nice: What Dana eventually shows shades of. After saving Frost’s End from the predations of the dragon Eitr, she tells a girl named Aslaug to ask the village men for volunteers to join her in retrieving food and supplies from Eitr’s lair. They refuse, preferring to rest in the comfort of a warm longhouse while Dana goes it alone. They even tell Aslaug to do something very uncomfortable with a hot poker. Dana responds by threatening to burn the longhouse down with everyone inside it unless she gets ten volunteers. Twenty-seven step forward. Things improve remarkably after that.
  • The Good King: Harald the Lion, King of Mersingland, is this. Although some may have issues with his payments, he’s adored by his subjects and personally leads them into battle. It doesn’t save him from his nemesis.
  • Grin of Audacity: Dana doesn’t usually sport one of these, but she makes an exception when she has her rematch with Regin.
  • Helmets Are Hardly Heroic: Averted. Most characters going into battle typically are described as wearing helmets if they can find one, and they save their lives several times over. Bonus points for Dana, who goes into her final battle with so much headgear that none of her adversaries recognize her as a woman, and the Bronze Fangs don't even know who she is until she takes it off. She puts it back on even after it becomes clear that it's ineffective against foes like them.
  • Here There Were Dragons: The story takes place in the mythic past of Scandinavia, when all the big monsters were still roaming the land. The story sees the ogres driven out of the land, the last great wyrm slain, and most of the trolls slain or driven into hiding. The world is a very different place by the end.
  • Heroic BSoD: After the Bronze Fangs attack Dana on the bridge at Overwatch to prove their newfound allegiance to Gunna Heroesbane, she falls nearly comatose in the wilderness more out of despair than injury. Odin has Desire push the Reset Button and give her a new reason to live.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: To be expected when everyone in the setting knows that it gets you a quick ticket to Valhalla and Folkvangr. Special mention goes to Baldwin the Jarl as he buys time for his retainer to escape with news of the invasion, and Sigurd and his four companions making their stand on the bridge at Overwatch. Dana tries to pull this shortly thereafter, destroying the bridge in an effort to stop her now-treacherous companions from attacking Mersingland. She fails, both to kill herself in the process and to prevent the trolls and Bronze Fangs from crossing the river: they survive and find another way across. This development also, ultimately, renders Sigurd and Co.’s efforts meaningless. Later on, Galin successfully pulls this off against Regin to buy time for Dana to tend her wounds.
  • Heroism Equals Job Qualification: Played With. Frost’s End puts Dana in control of the village after she defeats Eitr, the dragon who slew their previous Jarl. One of the major concerns that her detractors have is that she’s only 16 at the time and never led a group in her life, much less a community. They eventually give her the job and help guide her along, but it takes a while before she becomes competent at it and the doubts subside.
  • Hero of Another Story: They’re all over the place. Ivarr the Jarl, Baldwin the Jarl, King Harald of Mersingland, the Bronze Fangs... Sigurd and his companions take the cake, though. They held the bridge at Overwatch.
  • Hero with Bad Publicity: Dana has the odds stacked against her, what with being a woman in a patriarchal society fighting monsters. She’s also obviously not human and towers over everyone she meets. She breaks every cultural norm just by existing, and people are terrified of her. When the Bronze Fangs pull their Face–Heel Turn and she goes missing, this trope contributes to why everyone assumed she turned alongside them.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: Dana is afraid of succumbing to this, and is always afraid of what her anger will lead to after she crippled her brother by accident. In the end, as she fights her old companions to the death, she succumbs to her rage and injuries and becomes a draugr. Thankfully, Odin is on hand with a Reset Button.
  • The High Queen: By all accounts, Queen Gunnhild was this. Her sister... not so much,
  • Hired Guns: If you can pay the price or make it worth their while, the Bronze Fangs will take care of your problems. From rescuing nobles’ daughters to fighting celestial wolves in the sky, there’s nothing that they won’t do. Including world conquest.
  • Hold the Line: Pops up a lot. When trolls invade Mersingland, a jarl and his men buy time for their families to evacuate and carry word of the invasion to their king. Five warriors of Harald hold off a troll attack at Overwatch just long enough for their allies to prepare for battle. When the trolls invade Frost’s End, Dana and the able-bodied residents make a Last Stand while everyone who can’t hold a shield or bow evacuates. Generally, if trolls are involved, someone will Hold the Line and a lot of people on both sides will die.
  • Hollywood Tactics: Generally averted. Opposing armies face off in shield-walls, and defenders (who usually choose the battlefield) utilize terrain to funnel attackers into chokepoints and capitalize the high ground. The trolls start out using Hollywood Tactics, but it’s Justified: when they’re first created, they don’t really know how to do much more than Zerg Rush their enemies and overwhelm them with numbers and their innate, rocky durability. The oldest of them are only two or three days old when they engage in their first real battle, and they take more casualties than they should as a result. This is quickly and horrifically subverted. The trolls are quick learners, and Gunna can resurrect them from mistakes that get them killed. After a few battles, the trolls mirror the humans’ tactics and overwhelm them with numbers, strength, and strategy.
  • Horny Vikings: Surprisingly averted. For starters, the word "Viking" only comes up two or three times, and even then to establish that they don’t exist yet: the story takes place before the raid on Lindisfarne, which is traditionally considered the start of the The Viking Age. Exactly one character wears a horned helmet (this is noted as an oddity) and clothing is described as being neat, clean, and not gratuitously furry. People go to battle wearing gambesons (called a panzari here) and chainmail, the dominant weapons of the day are the spear and shield, and most men choose to take up agriculture rather than raiding.
  • Huge Schoolgirl: Dana is an extreme version of this. She was born as Linda, a dwarf in a valley of dwarves somewhere in the Alps. Starting off, Linda was tiny even for a dwarf. For reasons that are never explained, she not only grew bigger than the other girls in her hometown, but straight-up outgrews everyone. She tried to live a normal life with her family and friends, but wound up feared for her freakish size, scared away the boy she had a crush on, and then accidentally caved her brother’s face in when he taunted her bad luck with romance. Realizing that she had no place amongst the dwarves, Linda went north to finish her growth spurt and changed her name to Dana, knowing that she’d never come back but hoping desperately for some miracle to shrink her back down.
  • I Call It "Vera": Many weapons are named throughout the story, from the Flaming Sword Dawnsbrand to the returning spear Nightfall, all the way down to one-off weapons like Harald the Lion’s axe, Glimmer. Considering the source material with all its named weapons, this makes sense.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Dawnsbrand, being a sword growing to match a Giant Woman, is really big. Usually, bigger than the victim. Therefore, everyone who’s stabbed with it is generally a victim of this trope, but Dana usually slashes with it and so there’re few overt examples. Dana explicitly runs through Regin, Oswald, and Alfarr in that order. Dawnsbrand also takes out Ashling, but the exact manner of the death isn’t elaborated on.
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: Dana’s size caused no end of trouble in the Valley of Egil’s Thane, and she prayed so hard for the chance to shrink back down into a dwarf that even Odin heard her. Ultimately, Dana grows comfortable with what she’s become and realizes that the thing she always wanted isn’t what she really needed: confidence and people who love her. When Odin offers her a chance to become a dwarf again after winning the battle of Frost’s End, she turns him down: her ordeal has given her more than just physical strength, she’d lose more than her height in regressing to her old self. She decides to live out the rest of her life as the person she’s become and found happiness with, rather than the one that she dreamed of as a young girl.
  • In the Back: Dana’s in the front of the formation assaulting the bridge at Overwatch when Gunna commands the Bronze Fangs to kill her. She never sees it coming.
  • It's All About Me: Gunna seems to think so, and she aspires to gain as much power, wealth, and land as she possibly can. Also practically the motto of the Bronze Fangs: the world is a hard place to live in, so its members stick together to rise above and take full advantage of it. Consequently, their alliance is a match made in Hel.
  • It's Raining Men: The Bronze Fangs were busy fending off a wolf from devouring the moon-god Mani during Dagrfell’s invasion of Mersingland. He then hurled them back to Earth on an enchanted spear right into the heart of the ongoing battle below, and they quickly end it.
  • Ironic Echo: When recruiting her into the Bronze Fangs, Alfarr promises that the Bronze Fangs always look out for their own, and they work together to survive in a world that fears and rejects them. Two years after the Bronze Fangs turn on her and try to kill her, Dana tosses his recruitment pitch back at him as she stabs him to death at the closure of the Battle of Frost’s End.
  • Jade-Colored Glasses: It’s implied that each member of the Bronze Fangs is an outcast of some sort, and they became soldiers of fortune after numerous hardships: in a world that hates them, they’ll do whatever it takes to come out ahead. Dana puts them on after the Bronze Fangs turn on her. When she learns that the populace at large believes that she fell to darkness with them and turned to villainy, she gives up what little faith she had left in humanity and goes to sleep in the snow, intending to let the world pass her by. It takes a ploy from Odin and Desire to get the glasses off again and her compassion to return.
  • Jerkass: The Bronze Fangs, to one degree or another, all have their moments. Regin alone lacks anything redeemable: he enjoys fighting for its own sake, and doesn’t care who he hurts so long as he has a good time.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: The Bronze Fangs are clearly not nice people, and they value payment over ethics. However, Harald expects services out of them without discussing payment, and the Bronze Fangs call him out on it. They were hired to drive off one of the wolves chasing the moon across the sky in exchange for ranks of nobility within his kingdom. They returned from their errand to find Mersingland under attack, and they singlehandedly ended the invasion. Harald seemed willing to cheat them out of payment for services already rendered by claiming that the promotion to nobility was a reward for ending the siege, and then attempted to send them off to war without further discussion of payment: the implication is that, now that they’re a part of his kingdom, it’s their responsibility to do as he says. While Dana thinks that Harald won’t screw them over for it and they’ll get what’s coming to them sooner or later, the other members of the Bronze Fangs aren’t so trusting and bicker with Harald over it. They reach a settlement, but everyone’s clearly smarting over what led up to it. When Gunna hears about the argument, she realizes that she can exploit the resentment to turn the Bronze Fangs against Harald. This succeeds beyond her wildest dreams. Remembering how she recruited them in the first place, Gunna makes very certain to pay them well.
  • Killed Mid-Sentence: Confronting the Bronze Fangs outside of Frost’s End, Dana starts to argue with them over why they fell out at Overwatch. Rather than let her finish, the Bronze Fangs pull a Combination Attack and slay her outright while she’s distracted. Unfortunately, they underestimated just how angry she was over the whole thing...
  • Knight of Cerebus: In the beginning, each chapter details another incident in Dana’s life as she wanders through Scandinavia. And then Gunna shows up with her army of trolls, and the resulting conflict dominates the rest of the story. She drives a wedge between Dana and her companions and turns the Bronze Fangs to villainy and tyranny, and her machinations nearly kill Dana. She spreads war and darkness all across Scandinavia and plunges Dana to the edge of the Despair Event Horizon. The story’s never as lighthearted as it was before Gunna reared her scheming head.
  • Lady of Black Magic: Gunna Heroesbane, Queen of Dagrfell, was one of two daughters to the king of Dagrfell. When the nobles passed her over and supported her younger sister Gunnhild’s claim to the throne, she got a little angry over the whole thing, went up north, learned Black Magic, and came back to conquer her homeland at the head of an army of trolls of her own making and slaughter everyone she found. Now she reigns as the Evil Queen, her eyes are set on Mersingland, and she covers the lands she conquers in darkness. She turns the Bronze Fangs to her cause and dominates most of Norway before she’s finally put out of action.
  • Lady of War: What Dana eventually grows up into. After several years of fighting throughout Scandinavia, Dana settles down in and becomes the jarl (noble) of the village of Frost’s End. She enjoys two years of peace before war comes to her village. After that, she takes up her weapons again and leads her people into battle against overwhelming odds. And wins.
  • Large and in Charge: Njall the Ogre King, who's twice as tall as any of his subjects and isn't shy about throwing his weight around. Dana, though, is an aversion: although she towers over her comrades in the Bronze Fangs, she takes orders from the much-smaller Alfarr the Mad, an elven wizard with an eye for strategy. Dana plays it straight in the end, when she becomes Jarl of Frost's End.
  • Last Stand: Baldwin the Jarl rules a portion of Mersingland in Harald the Lion's stead. When Gunna Heroesbane takes over Dagrfell with her army of trolls, she sets her sights on Mersingland and makes Baldwin’s lands her first target. Baldwin and whatever able-bodied men he can muster perform one of these on the road between Dagrfell and Harald while the others can evacuate, buying time with their lives against an enemy that hopelessly outclasses them. He and his men resolve to go out swinging, and handily earn their places in the feasting halls of the afterlife. After the Bronze Fangs change sides, Harald makes one of these at his home. It’s actually a massacre.
  • Lightning Bruiser: Regin and Dana are this, but Dana takes the cake. Eight feet tall by the Battle of Overwatch, and twelve feet by the final battle at Frost's End, hitting like a wrecking ball, and moving faster than should be possible for someone her size. It’s downright unnatural: when confronted by opponents her size, she’s noted as being far faster and nimbler than them and, apparently, unbound by the limitations of the Square-Cube Law. Eating the heart of a dragon is explicitly the justification for her speed once she comes to Frost's End, but doesn't excuse her actions before it. It's as inexplicable as her immense growth .
  • Luckily, My Shield Will Protect Me: Armies form shield walls, and many attacks are blocked or deflected by crafty maneuvers. It’s the defining hallmark of Oswald Steelskin’s fighting style, and Dana learns everything she knows about fighting from him. The two of them use their shields as weapons almost as often as they use them for defense.
  • Ludicrous Gibs: A hallmark of Regin's fighting style. At one point, as he charges into a shieldwall of ogres, it’s raining limbs.
  • Made of Indestructium: Dawnsbrand, the enchanted sword that Dana wields in battle. Though it can rust and shrink if its bearer is infamous or obscure, it can at its best stop an axe supposedly capable of chopping through anything.
  • Meaningful Echo: The draugr of Ingrid's Dale endlessly chants "Mine, mine, mine!" as it rampages through the settlement and pilfers everything it can get its rotten hands on. When Dana starts screaming it, swearing to take Gunna's skull for a chalice, she realizes that her rage has driven her to become a literal monster.
  • The Men First: Baldwin the Jarl refuses to escape while his retainers and karls fight the trolls in a hopeless battle, viewing it as a betrayal of his subjects, and he dies with them. Dana tries to invoke this when the trolls come for Frost’s End, urging her people to flee while she holds off the invaders because she’s More Hero Than Thou. They refuse to leave her behind despite her emphasizing That's an Order!, and most of the village stays to fight beside her.
  • Mighty Glacier: Oswald Steelskin. He's a big man, but he wears so much chainmail and carries such a big shield that he can tank everything that comes his way without feeling it. At one point, he takes a stake the size of a tree on the face of his shield, and it’s the tree that breaks. In the end, the fully-empowered Dawnsbrand (which, by then, burns with the heat of a star and is at least eight feet long) finally pierces his armor and slays him.
  • Mook Chivalry: Averted. If the ogres or trolls have the numerical advantage, they will gang up on the protagonists and outflank them. They won’t fight fair and they'll employ pack tactics. It’s stated in their first appearance that an ogre wouldn’t stand a chance against a draugr in a one-on-one fight, but five ogres could easily defeat ten for this reason.
  • Mook Horror Show: In the beginning, the Bronze Fangs typically starred in a number of these. At one point, Regin performs a Foe-Tossing Charge through an ogre shield-wall, and Dana and the other ogres are horrified when it starts raining body parts on everyone.
  • Mordor: Dagrfell shows aspects of this once Gunna conquers it. Once prosperous and peaceful, she blankets it in darkness and kills all of the human inhabitants, replacing them with trolls loyal to her. Wanting more, and knowing that her trolls can only survive under the storm-clouds she creates in daytime, Gunna seeks to turn the whole world into one great Shadowland.
  • Motive Rant: It’s short, but Gunna explains why she corrupted the Bronze Fangs immediately after Dana slays the last one. She concluded that only the Bronze Fangs could defeat the Bronze Fangs, and she’d be better-served with them on her side rather than opposing them, thus ensuring that her enemies would fall victim to them. Ultimately, Dana (a former member) killed them all off, and she was about to succumb to the wounds they dealt her and bring about the final destruction of the group. Without the Bronze Fangs, no-one could stop Gunna. Dana’s achievements that day would be meaningless: Gunna would just come back with a new army of trolls once Dana keeled over and died. Fortunately, Dana takes out the retreating Gunna with a Desperation Attack before she can realize her goal.
  • Multi-Melee Master: Oswald Steelskin goes into battle with a steel-headed club and a massive shield, and his opponents never know which one he’ll strike with at any given moment. He passes the trick along to Dana once she joins the Bronze Fangs. This comes back to bite him when, at Frost’s End, she uses his techniques to slay Regin. In the final clash against the remaining Bronze Fangs, she goes back-and-forth between her sword, a hunting horn, and her bare hands. More than her freakish size and durability, it’s her versatility that lets her overcome Oswald’s experience and defeat him.
  • Mutual Kill: Early on, Gunna realized that only the Bronze Fangs could defeat the Bronze Fangs, as they were virtually invincible when acting together. She attempted to recruit them to capitalize on this but, in the end, her prediction came true: Dana, a former member, slew Regin while he was isolated from the rest of his companions. Below-strength and facing a now-undead giantess with a Flaming Sword, the remaining Bronze Fangs were unable to withstand her. Dana succumbed to the wounds that they dealt her, but not before slaying Gunna as well. Unfortunately for Gunna and the Bronze Fangs, Odin still owed Dana a favor...
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: All over the place. You have Njall the Ogre King, Alfarr the Mad, Ashling the Storm, Regin the Dragonheart, Gunna Heroesbane, Dana the Ogre Queen...
  • Never Found the Body: A heroic version. After the Bronze Fangs turned on Dana, she fell into a river and was carried downstream. Everyone assumed that she’d died, but Odin caught wind of her, pulled her out of the ensuing 10-Minute Retirement, and helped set her up to get revenge on her old companions.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!: Gunna has finished conquering Norway, and now she’s on the warpath to Denmark and Sweden. Realizing that the Bronze Fangs have won most of her battles for her and the trolls have gotten rusty, she decides to have them sit out the ensuing battle against Frost’s End unless the trolls request aid. What she doesn’t know is that this happens to be the village where Dana has holed up for the last two years. She loses many trolls in the ensuing battle, which also has the side-effect of spreading the legend of the "Troll-Hammer" through her army, which in turn feeds Dawnsbrand, her enchanted sword which grows bigger, hotter, and brighter as her legend grows. To make things worse, Regin is itching for a fight, and he taunts the trolls about their inadequacies against the giant in the Western Pass, trying to get them to give up so he can have a crack at it. This instead galvanizes the trolls, who vow to kill the giant or die to a man trying. In the end, this lets Dawnsbrand grow so big and bright that it shines with sunlight and petrifies the entire troll army. Had Gunna just sent in the Bronze Fangs at the outset, or grown impatient and not waited for the trolls to concede defeat, Dana would never have stood a chance.
  • The Night That Never Ends: Gunna’s army consists of trolls who turn to stone in the sunlight. To protect them, she blots out the sun with dark clouds. Every time she conquers a new kingdom, she grows in power and extends the cloud cover over more land. By the time she reaches Frost’s End, most of Scandinavia is trapped in night, winter is two years old in some places, and most of Norway’s human inhabitants are either dead or refugees. Thankfully, her spells don’t survive her and the clouds dissipate upon her death.
  • No Guy Wants an Amazon: Dana, as a little girl named Linda, had a crush on a neighboring boy named Eadgar. He was always nice to Linda and affectionately called her his precious little flower. He was... unprepared... for what puberty did to her, and he eventually walked away from her. She didn’t take the rejection well. Despite plenty of people complementing her on her looks, nobody ever makes a move on Dana again. She appears fine with this, contenting herself with ruling Frost’s End and living out her days in peace.
  • Offered the Crown: After saving it from the depredations of Eitr the Dragon and the ensuing famine, the citizens of Frost’s End offer Dana the chance to rule it as Jarl. After some momentary doubts and a pep talk from Desire, she accepts.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: The Bronze Fangs fight one of the wolves chasing Mani across the sky, putting them Out of Focus during the initial stages of Gunna’s invasion of Mersingland. The battle was apparently grueling and epic, but we never learn more than the barest details.
  • One-Man Army: Dana the Strong, Oswald Steelskin, Alfarr the Mad, Regin the Dragonheart, and Ashling the Storm are all Persons of Mass Destruction and can each take on an army by themselves. What makes them so deadly is that they collaborate. Dana proves the mightiest of all in the end. She takes on all the others — almost at the same time — and comes out on top, though they successfully take her down with them.
  • One Steve Limit: Averted. No less than four Bjorns are mentioned, and three of them appear in the same scene! Egil is the blacksmith who forges Dawnsbrand, Dana came from the Valley of Egil’s Thane, and a third Egil fathered one of the aforementioned Bjorns. A character named Sigurd original to this story appears in an important scene, the Sigurd of Germanic and Norse legend is mentioned, and a few others are alluded to. It confuses even the characters after a while.
    "Bjorn's dead," Sveinn the Champion said. Both Bjorn the karl and Bjorn the thrall stared at him. Sveinn clarified, "Egil's son, the old jarl's champion and my fellow. He's off with Ivarr in Valhalla now and well-acquitted of his shame."
  • Only I Can Kill Him: Once the trolls have turned to stone, only Gunna and the Bronze Fangs remain. Each of them has nearly become a Physical God by that point and only Dana, now a twelve-foot giantess with a burning sword and a dragon’s might, has a shot at killing them. She sends her people away rather than let them die in vain alongside her. This time, they go along with her orders rather than standing with her.
  • Only in It for the Money: The Bronze Fangs operate on this principle, and they’ll do anything if the pay is good enough. Realizing and exploiting this is how Gunna gets them betray Dana and Mersingland.
  • The Only One Allowed to Defeat You: Regin tries to invoke this once he learns the true identity of the giant of Frost’s End. It doesn’t work.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: They’re wingless and breathe poison, but they still hoard ancient treasures and sleep for centuries. After you slay them and either consume their hearts or bathe in their blood, they also grant you superhuman abilities.
  • Our Elves Are Different: Elves show up a few times in the story, and they’d like to remind you that they aren’t very fond of you. Alfarr in particular has a very dim view of humanity, and he doesn’t need much prompting to subjugate it when he’s given the opportunity.
  • Our Werewolves Are Different: Not spelled out, but Regin qualifies. In battle, he merges with a wolf-pelt draped over his shoulders and becomes a vicious wolf-man who fights as much with claws and fangs as he does his axe Cragsplitter.
  • Painful Rhyme: Elves speak in rhyme and verse here, but it generally reads well and doesn’t sound forced. However, Alfarr doesn’t always pull it off so well, and both the narrator (who’s a god of poetry) or the people he’s talking to mock him for it.
    "I have a term for things like that." Alfarr said ... Realizing that he didn’t really have a term, he said, "A foolish, stupid little brat!"
    "Your rhymes are getting tired," Ashling said, nudging him in the rib. "That was three or four terms. Couldn't you come up with something cleverer? Your adherence to verse chokes the life out of your words."
  • Physical God: Odin, of course, is a god and shows up in person. It’s stated that the other deities of the Norse pantheon are out and about, but very few of them contribute to the story and none but Odin actually appear. Odin states that Gunna and the Bronze Fangs are on the road to becoming this as well, and they intend to raid Asgard when they can find the Rainbow Bridge and steal his power. This is part of why Odin arranges for Dana — who he admits is a match for Thor — to take them out.
  • The Power of Friendship: The greatest strength of the Bronze Fangs. They may get on each other’s nerves on occasion, but they always pull through and work together to defeat their enemies. No matter what happens, they guard each other’s backs. Unfortunately, the friendship between the older members is much stronger than it is with Dana, and they’re willing to turn on her to join Dagrfell. Even Oswald, who realizes that his friends are crossing the Moral Event Horizon, can’t turn on them when they make their move and he falls to darkness with them in the name of friendship. This trope is given a more positive twist later, when Frost’s End comes under attack and Dana chooses to stay behind to hold off the trolls. Anyone who can hold a spear or bow joins her. After everything she’d done for them and they failed to do for her predecessor Ivarr, nobody wants to let their Jarl die alone. Without them, Dana would have been overwhelmed, surrounded, and succumbed to Death by a Thousand Cuts very early on.
  • Rag Tag Bunch Of Misfits: The Bronze Fangs consist of a bloodthirsty werewolf, a megalomaniacal dwarf, a rhyming elf, a humorless soldier, and a teenage girl with a pituitary disorder. They Fight Crime!
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Played straight with everyone in positions of power who’s not named Gunna Heroesbane: even Galin, who opposes Dana’s elevation to Jarl because of her gender does so out of cultural conventions rather than malice, and even he gets a moment of awesome. The two standout examples of this trope are the Gothi of Ingrid’s Dale (who listens to both sides of a story in a legal dispute and offers fair judgment even though he detests it) and King Harald (Who ruled long and well, joined his people in battle and led from the front, and was at worst a bit stingy with payment).
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: After Eitr the Dragon has been slain and an assembly is called to choose a new jarl, Signy (the wife of Ivarr, the previous jarl) tries to get a word in edgewise, since the assembly is being held in her house. The men try to shout her down as women aren’t allowed to testify at the assembly, and the ensuing argument almost gets violent. This is when Bjorn Egilson, one of Ivarr’s champions, steps up and nearly draws his sword against the others. In the ensuing tense silence, he reminds everyone that they all were cowards for not standing up to Eitr and defending Ivarr against it, and they shouldn’t grow brave now that they’re facing an old woman in a debate: because of their actions, the old jarl is dead and Signy is a widow, and he won’t let anyone disparage her. Shamed, they let Signy make her argument, and she sways enough of the villagers to proclaim Dana as her husband’s replacement.
  • Retired Badass: Harald the Lion is this. He was once a mighty warrior, but his kingdom was peaceful and he settled down into the role of The Good King. He only came out of retirement when Gunna launched her initial invasion of Mersingland. He didn’t live long-enough to go back into retirement. After getting her act back together and saving Frost’s End, Dana settles down as its jarl for two years, living out a peaceful and happy life. She’s forced out of it when Dagrfell invades the region and she has to defend her new home. She once again settles into retirement when the battle’s over, and it lasts for the rest of her life. It’s implied that it sticks even in Death: she’s not there in Valhalla in the prologue, and Odin mentions that there are pleasant and peaceful places (like Gimle) in Asgard that the dead can go to if they earned it.
  • Rhymes on a Dime: Every elf that appears speaks in rhyming couplets of iambic tetrameter. It’s most noticeable with Alfarr, a prominent supporting character, but the dark elves get in on it as well. after waking up from her Heroic BSoD, Dana identifies the brigands about to cook Desire as elves of some kind by their rhyme scheme. She finds it gratuitous.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Dana vs the Bronze Fangs, Round Two.
  • Rousing Speech: Two are given.
    • The first is from Harald, urging his people to take up arms against the invading trolls and defend their lands and families at his walled city. It works, and the highly-motivated civilians take to the walls and put up a good, if doomed, fight.
    • The second comes during a break in the final battle, when the trolls muster for their largest assault on Frost’s End. Dana convinces both her people and herself that there’s still hope to win the day and stop Dagrfell’s advance at the border of their village.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Gunna and Harald are both monarchs, and they both go to war alongside their troops. Harald gets in the thick of it with an axe, while Gunna supports her army with magic.
  • Running Gag: Odin is sometimes at a loss for why everyone mentions dying in battle and going to Valhalla as their just reward. They seem to forget that Freyja has her own hall to the dead, and there are more halls in Asgard than Valhalla besides. It’s implied that Dana goes to Gimle (a hall where righteous people go after death) rather than Valhalla because she’s so sick of fighting.
  • Screaming Warrior: Apparently, battles are really loud.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Gunna does this twice. First, when the Bronze Fans defeat her initial invasion of Mersingland, she takes one look at the situation, decides that she’d rather be anywhere else, and retreats back to Dagrfell to rethink her strategy. The second, after losing the Battle of Frost’s End, is when she realizes that Dana is mortally wounded and will soon die. Rather than stay there and be politely killed before Dana comes down from her murder-high, Gunna withdraws again, content to let time finish Dana off. Unfortunately for her, she doesn’t retreat fast-enough.
  • She Is the King: Frost's End doesn't have a king, but does have a jarl: loosely, a noble, and the origin of the title "Earl". Even today, there's no feminine version: the closest is "Countess", derived from the roughly-equivalent Continental rank of "Count". This feminine title isn't used in the setting, so Dana becomes the Jarl. This becomes a plot point: Gunna hears of a giant jarl with a massive heap of gold living in Frost's End, and she orders her armies to attack. Because of the male title, Dana's presumed death years ago, and the sheer amount of armor that she’s wearing, Gunna doesn't realize who she's throwing her armies against until they meet face-to-face.
  • Shield Bash: Oswald is a master of this, making an art of punching out teeth and jabbing exposed limbs with his shield when his club’s not an option. When she joins the Bronze Fangs, Oswald teaches Dana everything she knows about fighting, including this technique.
  • Shock and Awe: Ashling the Storm, the dwarfish sorceress, likes lightning. Really, really likes lightning.
  • Shout-Out: To Norse mythology in general, but a few others slip in. The Watchman’s Horn is likely a reference to the Horn of Roland, and the deaths of Sigurd and his companions at the bridge of Overwatch is an allusion to the Executioner's Last Stand at Gjallerbru.
  • The Siege: Two of them. The first is at Harald’s walled city. The first battle lasts the better part of a day, and the trolls storm the castle with such speed, numbers, and sorcerous aid that only the intervention of the Bronze Fangs saves the day. The second time is also at Harald’s capital, after the Bronze Fangs join the attackers. Things don't go so well this time.
  • Significant Green-Eyed Redhead: Dana is green-eyed redhead, and she's the Heroine.
  • Smarter Than You Look: Regin the Dragonheart may be a bloodthirsty murderer, but he can think. When he sees a giant emerge from the Western Pass with a blazing sword, he instantly realizes that it’s Dana. Not even Alfarr could figure it out until she took her helmet off. Galin makes the mistake of assuming that Regin’s an idiot, and he pays the price. Regin sees through Galin's attempts to stall for time with clever talk and deception pretty quickly, kills him, and moves on.
  • The Smart Guy: Alfarr the Mad, despite his name, is the most learned member of the Bronze Fangs, and his spells and connections are a major contributor to the group’s success. He can't hold a candle to Odin, though, who knowingly sets into motion the events that bring down Gunna, the Bronze Fangs, and Dagrfell with Dana as his trump card.
  • Spoiler Opening: The prologue details Odin leading a toast to Dana at a feast in Valhalla a thousand years after her death, praising her achievements in life. When nobody recognizes her name or actions, he lists off a few more of them in a vain attempt to jog their memory. This also fails, and he decides to commit her story to writing. Many plot developments are hinted right there in the opening pages but play out very differently from how you’d expect them to.
  • Square-Cube Law: Violated with abandon, and even loosely commented on. There are giants everywhere, and the dragon is immense. By the end, after devouring Eitr’s enchanted heart, Dana is described as moving far too fast for someone twelve feet tall.
  • Statuesque Stunner: When people get over her freakish size, some appreciate that Dana is this.
  • Steel Ear Drums: Owing to her Super Toughness, Dana has these. Very few others do. This comes in handy when Odin gives her a magical hunting horn that sounds as loud as it needs to be, and she realizes that it can be weaponized.
  • Straw Misogynist: Played with. While women in Scandinavia were treated better than some of their neighbors, all wasn’t equal, and the story acknowledges it. Overcoming misogyny is one of the challenges that Dana faces, and she doesn’t exactly convert everyone. Sexist characters are products of their time and often get their own moments to shine when they’re not flinging shade at Dana. Traditionalists within Frost’s End may disapprove of Dana becoming Jarl based on her gender, but it’s not their only objection: they also point out that she has no experience with leadership whatsoever, and they’re putting a sixteen-year-old in charge of a village recovering from a supernatural disaster. Nonetheless, the author does, perhaps, drop an anvil heavier than he needs to...
  • Suicidal Overconfidence: Ivarr the Jarl learns the hard way that it’s best not to provoke a dragon. Regin also succumbs to this when he faces Dana, and she’s ready for his usual strategy of Attack! Attack! Attack! The ensuing fight is long and tense, but Dana clearly outmatches him and the outcome is never in doubt.
  • Super Strength: A common trait amongst the monsters and supernaturally-empowered. Some blows can topple mountains, and others can be felt or heard from miles away.
  • Super Team: The Bronze Fangs are a motley crew of disparate ladies and gentlemen whose only common characteristics is a tremendous capacity for destruction and an inability to blend in with normal society. They come together for mutual protection and to tackle threats that one alone is either incapable or unwilling to handle in exchange for money or favors.
  • Taken for Granite: As in myth and legend, the trolls here turn to stone when exposed to sunlight. Gunna takes back Dagrfell in one night, knowing that she’ll lose her army with the sunrise, and she just barely pulls it off in time. Thankfully for her, nothing stops her from reanimating petrified trolls once the sun sets. To counter this in her future conquests, Gunna spreads impenetrable clouds ahead of all her armies so they can fight in the shade. Ultimately, when Dawnsbrand grows so powerful that it starts shedding sunlight and the entire army is gathered on a plain, it spells the doom of Dagrfell.
  • Taking You with Me: Whenever caught in a Last Stand, characters make this resolution. When the trolls assault Frost’s End and die en masse to Dana, they vow that they’d rather die than admit defeat and they hurl themselves into the fray. They cripple or kill many of Frost’s End’s residents, and Dana isn’t exactly in peak condition when she’s through. Their determination even impresses the gods even though they failed, and they fare much better than their masters when the Valkyries come for them.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: The Bronze Fangs operate on this. They often get on each other’s nerves but, when faced with a common enemy, they’re unstoppable. Breaking this bond is ultimately Gunna’s goal and, though it takes years, she succeeds. With the Bronze Fangs gone, she knows that nobody’s left who can possibly stop her from conquering the world. She just doesn’t get to enjoy it for long.
  • Terror Hero: If Regin can leave his foes screaming in terror, it’s a good day for him.
  • Throwing Your Sword Always Works: Played with. Dana hurls Dawnsbrand after Gunna as she flees the final battle. However, it’s not explicitly the edge that kills her, but rather the impact of a superheated hunk of enchanted steel at hundreds of miles an hour that finishes her off.
  • The Time of Myths: Set in a vaguely-defined period of time before the Viking age, during which monsters roamed the land and generally made life interesting.
  • To Absent Friends: How Odin starts off the story. He offers a toast to Dana, who's not there in Valhalla despite performing great deeds in life. The fact that so few people remember her unnerves him.
  • Token Good Teammate: Oswald, for the Bronze Fangs. He showed the most conscience and standards amongst them, and his devotion to his friends is why, despite their sometimes horrible actions, he still fights alongside them. In the end, his devotion to them means that he must side with them against Dana even though he knows that they wronged her. This comes back to bite him when the Bronze Fangs face the Valkyries in the aftermath of the final battle: good intentions don’t excuse treachery and the trail of bodies he left behind while defending his friends, and he’s dragged down to Niflhel alongside the others.
  • Took a Level in Cynic: After the Cynicism Catalyst that was Overwatch, Dana’s grown a thicker skin and doesn’t take insults lying down anymore in order to fit in. She grows more willing to stand her ground, make threats, and use her immense strength to get people to do what she wants while still being the Heroine. She acts more mature and reasonable for the rest of the story, so this isn’t a bad thing.
  • True Companions: Whatever their faults (and there are many), the original members of the Bronze Fangs view themselves as this. They’re genuinely heartbroken and horrified when Regin dies, and they fight to the death to avenge him.
  • The Undead: Aside from the Einherjar in the prologue, the only explicitly undead creature to appear in the story is a draugr. One's rumored to sleep in a grave outside of the Danish settlement of Ingrid's Dale: formerly a thief, it was such a greedy creature that being hanged couldn't put it down for good. Immune to weapons, it's capable of drawing power from its hate and greed and is supernaturally durable. Dana's first fight is when the monster arises from its grave and rampages through the town on an epic robbing spree, stealing everything it can get its rotten fingers on and killing whoever gets in its way while chanting "Mine! Mine! Mine!" It chases after the village Gothi, seeking to rip off his head and make a chalice from his skull. Dana only manages to defeat it by wrestling it back to its grave, breaking its back, and burying it again: centuries later, it's still too scared to come out again. Dana herself becomes one when the Bronze Fangs kill her mid-sentence as she tries telling them why they're horrible. The rage she's held back for years bursts out and reanimates her, and she becomes the very thing she initially swore to fight. She only realizes what happened when she feels an obsessive need to make a goblet from Gunna's skull and chant "Mine, mine, mine!"...
  • Undying Loyalty: After everything that Dana did for the people of Frost’s End, they’re willing to fight to the death to defend her. She returns the sentiment.
  • Unskilled, but Strong: Regin, full stop. Odin mentions that he never needed to develop his skills simply because he could easily burst through everything in his way and leave a wake of bodies and blood behind him. Dana starts out this way, but she’s sobered by a near-death experience at the weaker but cleverer ogres’ hands and quickly becomes a Combat Pragmatist. This is why, when the two of them fight years later, Dana wholeheartedly and unquestionably demolishes him.
  • Unstoppable Rage: Unfortunately, after she’s Killed Mid-Sentence before the final struggle against the Bronze Fangs, Dana falls into one of these. She’s too angry to die and becomes a draugr.
  • Valkyries: Set in a mythic Scandinavia where the Norse gods play a heavy role in things, this is to be expected. They tend to the Einherjar’s needs and escort the dead to their proper places in the afterlife.
  • Villainous Breakdown: The Bronze Fangs have a rather epic series of them as the fight against Dana progresses. They’ve effortlessly beaten everything else they’ve come across, and they’re baffled as they kill her again and again and yet, somehow just won’t die. By the end, they’re terrified and desperate, and powerless to save themselves. This is ultimately subverted by Gunna, though: she breaks out laughing once Dana kills the Bronze Fangs, realizing that even though she lost the battle, the Bronze Fangs no longer pose a threat and can never turn on her. She can go ahead with her plans for world conquest without anyone getting in the way.
  • Villainous Valor: The trolls. Although they’re the Faceless Goons of the forces of darkness, they fight and die for the only cause they know of. Their willingness to unflinchingly march into a meatgrinder without being ordered to even impresses the gods, and the Valkyries take them to Valhalla and Folvangr alongside the humans who died at Frost’s End. It’s much, much better than their masters get...
  • Walking Armory: Although Dawnsbrand is her preferred weapon, Dana walks into battle with enough weapons on her belt and shoulders to arm a small town, and she’s not afraid to use them. When she temporarily loses Dawnsbrand halfway through the book, she has no shortage of weapons to fall back on when she has to take on a dragon.
  • War Is Glorious: Everyone in a position of power thinks so, and they eagerly wish to carve out a name for themselves and go down in legend. It doesn’t matter if they win or lose: a good death gets you out of Hel, and that’s worth going out in a blaze of glory.
  • War Is Hell: The average peasant, however, just wants to live a long life on his or her farm. The many victims in Dagrfell’s march across Scandinavia flee in terror before it, lest they be cut down or starve as the winners Rape, Pillage, and Burn.
  • We Can Rule Together: Gunna tempts the Bronze Fangs with the promise of wealth and power over uncounted nations, each one a king or queen over their own lands. It works. Dana is the only holdout, and Gunna commands the others to kill her to prove their loyalty. Even though she survives the attempt, the fact that they go about it with so little hesitation is a major contributor to Dana’s Heroic BSoD.
  • We Used to Be Friends: While she was never close to anyone but Oswald, Dana got along well-enough with the Bronze Fangs. At the very least, they worked well together and overcame their differences to make a name and profit for themselves in uncertain times. In battle, they operated as a well-oiled machine and came to each other’s mutual defense without having to say a word to coordinate. In the year she was with them, Dana was safe, and the Bronze Fangs benefited massively from her strength. And then Gunna made a proposal that only Dana couldn't abide...
  • We Have Reserves: Gunna spends days on end raising trolls from every rock she can set her hands on. She's not shy about having them Zerg Rush her foes, especially because she can revive them later. At one point, she fills a dry moat with the corpses of her fallen trolls so that the rest can bypass a bridge and reach the walls of a fortified city en masse. Once Dana kills Gunna, the trolls can't come back.
  • Wham Episode: Chapter Six, "Betrayal on the Bridge", is where everything changes. Gunna Heroesbane and the survivors of her army of trolls have fled Mersingland after the Bronze Fangs relieved Harald’s capital and he begins to assemble an army from those who loved and wished to avenge Queen Gunnhild. The Bronze Fangs join the garrison on the border to Dagrfell while the coalition takes shape, holding a bridge at the town of Overwatch. Gunna learns that the Bronze Fangs aren’t happy about how Harald is treating them, and she forms a plan. She launches an assault on the bridge with the express purpose of drawing the Bronze Fangs to battle, making it so violent that only the Bronze Fangs can withstand it. Once they’re alone on the bridge, Gunna herself steps forward and parleys with them. She offers to make them all champions in her army and, in return, they'll receive money, lands, and power such as Harald could never grant them. After their experience with Harald, Ashling, Regin, and Alfarr agree. Dana tries to talk them out of it and, seeing that she’s not going to take the deal, Gunna orders the rest to kill her in order to cement the deal. Before Dana can react, they strike. Oswald flinches, horrified by his friends’ actions and unsure of what to do: side with his oldest friends, or defend the wronged. He chooses his Blood Brothers. He raises his club and prepares to strike the fatal blow against Dana, who smashes the bridge beneath them with the last of her strength. Nobody sees Dana surface, but the Bronze Fangs and Gunna make it to Dagrfell’s shores and prepare to launch a second invasion of Mersingland and the whole of Norway. Appropriately, the next episode is a short, lighthearted affair called "Dark Times Begin".
  • World of Badass: In the land of Norse Mythology, it’s the only way to survive past the age of ten.
  • World's Best Warrior: Oswald Steelskin is this. He's mastered many weapons, evidenced by how he teaches Dana how to use a sword despite wielding a club himself, and still has some tricks up his sleeves afterward. He’s utterly invulnerable to most gambits and attacks, he keeps his cool under pressure, and doesn’t hesitate to beat the living daylights out of anything that threatens his friends. Even though Dana is far stronger, Odin acknowledges that he’s far more skilled. Ultimately, though, not even he can overcome Dana, who is the...
  • World's Strongest Man: Once she and the Bronze Fangs kill Njall, Dana only grows stronger and is never depicted alongside anyone who’s as strong as she is. This includes a dragon. Her strength and endurance are so great that she can overwhelm Oswald Steelskin, who Odin acknowledges is technically the better fighter.
  • Xanatos Speed Chess: Queen Gunna starts playing a mean game of this once the Bronze Fangs arrive on the scene. Initially, her plan is to conquer Mersingland and then the surrounding lands. Once they emerge, she realizes that they’re too powerful to oppose and she decides to pay them off so they’ll fight for her. The next few years are spent throwing money and land at them to keep them happy, but she conquers most of Norway with their aid. When Dana kills them off, Gunna realizes that they no longer pose a threat and Dana’s on death’s door: she can go back to her original plan with nobody left to stop her. Only a Desperation Attack that she could never have foreseen foils her plan.
  • You Shall Not Pass!: Invoked a number of times, with characters (protagonists or not) standing in chokepoints and holding out to the last against the numerically-superior trolls. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Gunna is finally stopped at the gates of Frost’s End, after a day-long battle.
    • Galin the Priest He doesn’t stand a chance against Regin and he’s terrified beyond belief, but he stands his ground and, through gusto and deception, buys Dana time to prepare for the inevitable fight against the Bronze Fangs. His last act after being nearly cut in half is to sound a hunting horn and alert her to the berserker’s presence. This impresses Freyja enough that, when the battle ends and she has first pick of the tens of thousands of dead to go back to Folkvangr, she chooses him over everyone else.

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