Review: Heathen Vol.1 – Natasha Alterici

Heathen Vol. 1 – Natasha Alterici – 3 stars

Heathen

So is Viking mythology cool now, or did it just never go out of style? I’m seeing these tropes all over the place – and loving it. Heathen draws from the raw warrior energy of ancient Scandinavian tales, and it works fantastically. Thanks to Diamond Book Distributors for letting me have a copy!

This is the first Volume of a comic series drawn and written by Natasha Alterici, due to be published on 8 August. The art is beautiful: thoughtful and bold, and perfectly paired with well-written and concise dialogue. I could look at some of these pictures forever.

The protagonist of this story is a lesbian Viking girl who has been kicked out of her village for being different. It’s moving, and great for representation, but I think I wanted to know a bit more about her than just her sexuality. I wanted to meet her father properly, to know how she felt about the loss of her mother, and how she befriended Saga…I think the emission of more rounded character details meant that the story came off as slightly moralistic, which is such a shame because the premise is so wonderful.

It will be interesting to see how the series progresses, as there are some hints towards the Christianisation of the country, as well as a pending showdown with the god Odin. Having said that – it’s definitely the illustrations that will stick in my memory. Three stars for Natasha Alterici – I’m impressed!

If you’ve read this too, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Thanks for reading, and have a lovely day!

Dani

The Vikings

Last month I read my first book about Vikings (it was How to Train your Dragon, and what?) and it struck me how little mainstream literature we have about these weird and wonderful people. I’ve collected a few of my favourite Viking facts, in the hope that you’ll all be inspired and start writing stories about Dark Age sea-farers. Go!

  • Vikings skied. Apparently it was a handy way to get around, and they even had a god of skiing, called Ullr. (Source)
  • VikingsĀ kept BEARSĀ for PETS. Please look up Erik Liefson for more of that pretty fantastic story. (Source)
  • They all wore eye-liner. Using kohl protected their eyes, and also made them look pretty fine. (Source)
  • Blonde hair was considered more beautiful, so brunette men would often bleach their lovely locks. Some people think it helped keep lice away too, so that’s always a plus. (Source)
  • To sort out arguments, Vikings would have ‘Ordeals’ to test their bravery. This could involve picking stones out of hot water, or carrying hot iron. (Source)

Bifrost

Bonus thing: This is a Wagnerian painting of Bifrost – which was, in Norse mythology, the rainbow bridge that linked Asgard and Midgard (the world of the gods and the world of humans respectively). So no, Mario was not the first to walk a rainbow road.

Are there any other interesting Viking facts you think should have made the list? Also can you recommend a Viking-ish novel?

Thanks for reading, and have a lovely day!

~Dani