I need no library card!

An email dropped in through the cracks in my Neanderthal man cave five days ago. It was from one Amalia Dillin, who had had my name flagged by her editor as someone who occasionally dabbled in Norse-related things. She was interested to know my opinions on Thor, the God of Thunder, and after protracted negotiations (“You want me to do what?”.. “Thor, you say?”… “Cool!”) invited me to join a blog-hop to celebrate large men with hammers and the release of her newest novel, Fate Forgotten. (Hooray!)

I thought about this for a while, and have to confess that I discovered I had some opinions. I read Amalia’s excellent list of Thors and found that I am woefully under-read on recent incarnations. In my book* Thor is someone who has always been around, is large and beardy and scary, and has red hair. I am Icelandic, and thus the Norse gods are part of my cultural heritage. I’m not about to say ‘none of that Marvel nonsense’ because I, for one, welcome our new Disney overlords, but – y’know. To me, Chris Hemsworth is about as much Thor as a potato is a duck.

So who is Thor to me, then?

He is big, strong and – how to put this politely – not likely to take an intellectual line. His is the direct path; his is the challenge met face on. You’d want him on your side – but possibly up at the front where the action was, rather than beside or behind you.

In Norse mythology Thor can be the butt of cruel jokes as evidenced in the story of Utgard-Loki, where Thor travels with Loki and Þjálfi, ending up in the hall of a mysterious jotun. This jotun proceeds to set Thor challenges – quaffing ale from a horn, lifting a cat and wrestling an old woman. Sounds simple enough? Well… The horn is somehow magically connected to the sea, the cat is actually Jormungandr in his less known cat form and the woman is Elli, the goddess of age.

And still Thor nearly manages, failing heroically at all the tasks but winning the respect of Utgard-Loki in the process. This infuriates him so much that he wants to smash things with his hammer**, but then the hall of Utgard-Loki vanishes, confusing the hell out of the real estate market.

What I suppose I like about my version of Thor is the marriage of relentless energy and absolute lack of common sense – when all you have is a hammer, every problem is a nail.


* Literally and figuratively.
** To be fair, most things do.
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  1. Posted November 7, 2013 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

    My favorite (um, favorite might not be the word I’m looking for but I’m gonna go with it) Thor as the butt of a cruel joke story is the Hárbarðsljóð, when Odin disguises himself as the ferry man and engages Thor in a battle of wits which he is WOEFULLY ill-equipped to fight. Poor, poor Thor. He just wants to cross the river, and instead he’s teased and insulted, and he can’t even reach the guy to pound him. I can’t help but feel that Odin is testing him, somehow, and that Thor is failing completely in every way.

    I love the idea of Thor as “the direct path!” Thanks so much for sharing your insight into Thor!

  2. Posted November 7, 2013 at 5:54 pm | Permalink

    My favorite has to be Thor the bride, trailed by his bridesmaid Loki on a quest to recover Mjolnir from the evil jotun. The image of Thor in a wedding dress gets me every. Single. Time. So great to read about yours, Snorri! Thanks for hopping with us!

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