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Literature / Wolfsangel

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The gods in their schemes...
Only Loki was not a fighter. Only Loki stood at the sides and laughed, a laughter more deadly to the self-important gods than any sword or spear. No wonder they had chained him.

The Wolfsangel Cycle is a series of Historical Fantasy werewolf novels written by M. D. Lachlan (one of many pen names for Mark Barrowcliffe). The books demonstrate a notable tonal shift from the author's previous works, existing at an intersection of history, mythology, and dark magic.

The story begins in the Viking Age with the kidnapping of two twin boys by a Viking King called Authun. A prophesy has told him one of the boys will lead his people to glory should he raise him as his heir.

The installments span centuries as the immortal tale of the death of the gods plays out on middle earth, again and again until Ragnarok. Through the ages, the gods manifest here as humans, their true nature hidden from even themselves, to unknowingly act out their violent ultimate fates as an eternal sacrifice so that the gods may live on in their own realm.


The novels include:

  • Wolfsangel (2010)
  • Fenrir (2011)
  • Lord of Slaughter (2012)
  • Valkyrie's Song (2015)

The series provides examples of:

  • A God Am I: Odin's vessel often has this attitude once he fully manifests.
    • Snake in the Eye takes this even further, prattling on nonsensically about how godly he is after Loys removes the Wolfstone from around his neck.
  • A God, I Am Not: The human avatars of the gods typically deny being what they are when it is suggested; after all they usually have no knowledge of being gods at all and find the idea ridiculous. This is taken to another level when Christian characters are told they are gods; they will respond by saying the very idea is heresy.
  • The Ageless: The slave girl, mother of the twins, does not age and is kept as a kind of living heirloom for a time by those she serves.
  • Alternate Mythological Equivalent: Hecate, Odin, Mercury, Christ? In universe, it is posited they're really all the same and the differences only lie in how men perceive them.
  • Arc Words: "I am a wolf."
  • Arch-Enemy: The dread wolf Fenrir and Odin, who he exists to kill.
  • Badass Boast: The Norsemen pull these off beautifully.
  • Badass Normal: Feileg/Hugin/Elifr, Mauger, and Ofaeti.
  • The Berserker: These special warriors of Odin make an appearance in Wolfsangel.
    • Feileg was initially raised by a family of them.
  • Blemished Beauty: The slave Saitada deliberately disfigured herself so she wouldn't be raped (again). It kind of worked; half her face is still exceptionally beautiful (and a predator muses that "if [she] were positioned right..."), but the other half is charred and bloody-eyed. In this case, the trope is symbolic of her dual nature: she is a traumatized slave, but she also becomes an oracle and a god's lover.
  • Blessed with Suck: Snake in the Eye's father tells him the reason he is unable to strike his enemies is because he has a battle fetter imposed upon him by Odin. He says Odin does it to save the truly great warriors for a special occasion rather than allowing them to fight and die in a pointless battle early in life. Snake in the Eye feels it is more of a curse since it leads him to be humiliated and called a coward by the other Vikings for being unable to defend himself.
  • Bloody Bowels of Hell: The lower levels of the Numera look like this.
  • Eye Scream: Odin's forms will each have one of their eyes gouged out in some way or another, but in Fenrir Aelis tears out her own right eye.
  • Fate Worse than Death:
    • The gods in human form suffer this.
    • In Wolfsangel, Loki is shown to be bound to a slab of rock in chains fashioned from the entrails of his son while serpents drip corrosive venom onto his body.
    • Fenrir is fettered and bound tight so that he can neither move freely nor relax from his crouching position, his mouth propped open on the point of a sword, starving and utterly unable to break free.
    • The Vikings prefer death to dishonor.
  • Gender Bender: Since it is females who use magic, Odin usually takes the form of one (or three).
  • Honor Before Reason: The Norse people's culture generally works this way; they do not fear death and would rather be hurt or killed than be shamed or break their word. This also applies to their gods. See the page quote above for the one exception.
    • Snake in the Eye is this trope personified. A woman in the Viking camp remarks he's lucky to have lived as long as he has. When he is later run through with a sword, all he thinks of it is that he finally has a mighty wound to show off.
  • I Have Many Names: There is a large number of ways to address the characters between past lives and titles. Odin in particular is referred to by more than anyone else.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: The werewolf-to-be descends to this once "the fetters burst". It is all downhill from that point.
  • It Was a Gift: The Wolfstone was given to Snake in the Eye by his father as it was passed from father to son. He is loath to part with it.
  • The Juggernaut: The werewolf always chases after the possessor of the howling rune (wolfsangel). Though many will try, he cannot be stopped.
  • Kill 'Em All: For characters in most stories, significance means safety. In this one, it is a death sentence.
  • Sea Monster: A Viking pretends to see one so that he can leap off the boat to battle it, allowing him to die with honor.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": Many names and terms are anglicized.
    • The names Fenris Wolf, Fenrir, and Fenrisulfr are all used interchangeably.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Once a character begins to change into a wolf.
  • Vertebrate with Extra Limbs: Odin's horse has eight legs.
  • War Is Glorious: The narrator does not think this, but most of the characters do.
  • Warrior Heaven: The Norsemen are fond of referencing it before and during battle, like shouting to the enemy that they can pour them a drink in Odin's hall when all is said and done.
  • Warrior Poet: Odin is the god of poetry as well as war and death. Vikings traditionally honor their fallen comrades with poetry and attempt to use "fine words" in battle.
    • Ofaeti is very well-spoken on top of being an impressive warrior.
  • Wham Line: "I am a wolf," said Loys, and he cut off the boy's head.