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A book and art project showcasing some of the Norse myths and legends as recorded by Saxo in his great work, Gesta Danorum.
36 backers pledged £625 to help bring this project to life.
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About

£625

36

My aim is to produce an illustrated book featuring some of the stories from Saxo's great work, Gesta Danorum.

This is what you can expect from the book:

  • 32 stories, retold 
  • 23 original illustrations
  • Additional notes to give context to the stories
  • Perfect bound softcover 
  • 5.5 x 8.5 inches 
  • 184 pages 

Warning: some of this material may not be appropriate for young children ...

Mockup showing the book cover design

A Very Brief Background

Writing in Denmark around the beginning of the 13th century, Saxo produced a long written history of his country. The early part of his history, though, includes a good deal of legendary and mythological material.

There is huge interest nowadays in Norse mythology, essentially all based on the Icelandic take on this material: the Poetic Edda, the work of Snorri (his Prose Edda and Heimskringla), as well as material from Icelandic sagas. Written material from mainland Scandinavia on this subject is scarce. Saxo's work is a major exception to this, but it is often ignored. Perhaps this is because Saxo wrote in Latin rather than his own native language. Perhaps it is because he seems to have freely adapted his source materials to fit into his line of kings that forms the basis of his work. Perhaps it is because many casual Norse enthusiasts are simply unaware of Saxo's work, and the amount of material he covers that is related to Norse myth and legend.

Toke

The Material in this Book

I have chosen a number of stories from Saxo that are related to Norse myth and legend, and retold these for a modern reader. Saxo writes quite a lot about the god Odin, and there are several stories relating to him included here. Also included is a series of tales about Balder: his argument with Hother, his death, Odin's revenge, and the consequences for Odin. Most of this echoes the Icelandic version of events, but the details of the story are very different indeed, possibly reflecting a different tradition or different interpretation. There are also stories that seem to be about other gods, though their names have been changed. And there are details about gods such as Ull and Frigg under their own names that are not known from elsewhere.

There are legends of dragonslayers and mysterious beings, of warriors raised from the dead to fight on, and of journeys to underworlds and otherworlds and what is to be found there.

The legend of Amleth inspired Shakespeare's Prince of Denmark play. The legend of Hagbard and Signe was particularly well loved in Scandinavia throughout the middle ages. Saxo also wrote extensively about Ragnar Lodbrok, and I have included some of these episodes in the book.

Alfhild

The Drawings

I have made a series of illustrations for the book. I drew in ink on paper so that these drawings would be easily reproducible in black and white. I worked at a size of 12 x 12 cm, which is slightly larger than the drawings will appear in the book.

I have posted a few of the pictures on this campaign page, so you get some idea of the style .... I will show more in updates as the Kickstarter progresses.

The forest maidens

Printing

I have worked with several book printers in the past, and am familiar with their ways of working. The plan for this Kickstarter campaign is that the books will be printed by Ingram and sent out by me to the project backers. 

If this campaign is successful, after fulfilment is complete I hope to make the book available for sale through all the usual channels. I also hope to make a (non-illustrated) ebook edition available through the usual channels.

Please help by spreading the word about this project!

If you are wondering about what else I have done in the past that might have been leading up to this point ... you can check my previous illustrated collections of translations of Scandinavian ballads, a translation of the Saga of Didrik of Bern, and my playing card projects, all here: http://www.northerndisplayers.co.uk/

If you would like to follow all my work on your favourite social media, here are some links:

Twitter / Instagram / Music / Website

Risks and challenges

The risks in backing this project should be fairly low: the texts and illustrations are all done. I have already fulfilled four Kickstarter projects, so I am familiar with the way Kickstarter works. I have also previously published four books, three of them illustrated, so I am familiar with working with book printing and distribution companies, and with all the formatting of books for print (and as ebooks).

One factor that could come into play is when, if, or how the UK / EU separation takes place. Last time this was due to happen, a few months ago, we were advised to expect delays in the post between the UK and EU countries. Depending on how things play out over the next couple of months, something similar may happen. So there may be a delay for (non-UK) EU backers. I will in any case not post things while the Post Office line is that they will not be delivered in the usual manner. Non-EU backers (and UK backers) should be unaffected by this, for the purposes of this Kickstarter campaign.

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Funding period

- (15 days)