Here Be Dragons

Book 13 in the Wyrdwolf series

Book 13 in the Wyrdwolf series
The week started as it meant to go on: there was a strange dragon in the garden and an arrogant elf asking to be Izzy’s shadow. By the end of the morning, a screaming ambulance is racing to get her to a hospital before she dies.

Recovery leaves her with strange symptoms and she doesn’t recognise a pattern until a doctor tells her she’s no longer a werewolf. She’s exiled from the packs unless she can find a way to turn back.

While she tries to work out a solution, Michael is stuck in France sorting out a family betrayal. Other problems come thick and fast: Morgan’s schooling is under threat, Sam thinks Izzy has been poisoned and Michael is being sued for malpractice and threatened by the Home Office. Even the office building work is being sabotaged.

Izzy and her mates are under attack again though it’s difficult to work out who is behind it and why. Their best lead is to find out which of Izzy’s colleagues poisoned her and how it changed her nature. The answers lead to personal anguish and a foe they can’t defeat.

The thirteenth book in the series draws on Heathen, Greek and Slavic mythology and folklore.
  • series number: Book #13
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  • Where to buy: Amazon UK
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  • True BitsIf you want to know which of the folklore and history in the books is true

True Bits in the book

Chapter 2
Clinkerbell is an archaic Somerset word for an icicle.

Chapter 4
Pliny the Elder (a Roman naturalist) stated that “the same individual [hare] possesses the characteristics of the two sexes” in Natural History 81.55. The belief that hares change sex at will lingered in Western European folklore. The 17th-century polymath Sir Thomas Browne repeated it in Pseudodoxia Epidemica 3.17 and it was recounted as a living belief in 20th-century England in The Leaping Hare by George Ewart Evans and David Thompson.

The commonest ungendered pronouns in use by people who identify as non-binary or genderqueer are they and their. Ze/zir is a common alternative.

Chapter 7
Siegfried/Sigurd appears in similar stories in ancient texts from Scandinavia (as Sigurd) and Germany (as Siegfried). In Germanic texts, Gudrun is called Kriemhild.

The story about Siegfried killing Fafnir can be found in the Prose Edda Skaldskaparmal and the Volsunga Saga.

Chapter 8
In Ancient Egyptian mythology, the serpent Apep was the personification of chaos. While the sun barque sailed across the underworld at night, Set helped Ra destroy Apep to ensure the sun rose in the morning.

The main sources for Ragnarok are from Iceland and date to the 10th century (Voluspa in the Poetic Edda) and the 13th century (the Prose Edda). There is disagreement on how far the texts were influenced by Christianity.

At Ragnarok, the forces against the gods travel in a ship made from the trimmed fingernails and toenails of the dead. Thor dies killing the serpent at Ragnarok (Prose Edda Gylfaginning 51).

Odhin flung the Midgarð Serpent into the sea (Prose Edda Gylfaginning 34).

Chapter 13
The tale of Melusine comes from 14th-century France.

Anticyclone Hartmut, (dubbed the Beast from the East by the media) was a storm that brought a Siberian cold wave to Great Britain and Ireland in late February/early March 2018.

Chapter 15
In Heathen mythology, Loki killed a dwarf named Otter and had to pay compensation in gold to Otter’s father. Fafnir killed his father and drove away his brother Regin to possess the fortune. He turned into a dragon to guard it. Regin forged the sword Garm and induced Sigurd/Siegfried to use it to slay Fafnir. The main sources of the story are Skaldskaparmal 7 and the Volsunga Saga.

Chapter 16
Canine eyes sacrifice the range and brightness of colours experienced by humans in favour of low-light visibility. They distinguish shades of grey better than humans.

Canine hearing range is half that of humans for low notes, but has three times the range for high notes and can hear much quieter noises than humans. Their sense of smell is between 10,000 and 100,000 times better than that of humans.

The name Stanley may be derived from the Anglo Saxon words for stone and a meadow or clearing.

Chapter 18
The Home Office letter is a copy of form RED.0001, which is the official notification of an intent to deport a resident of the UK. This is the form given to the Windrush generation deportees.

Chapter 19
In Finnish mythology, the Sampo was a magical artefact that brought riches and good fortune to its holder. When the Sampo was stolen, it was lost in the sea in a battle to retrieve it.

Eris was the Grecian goddess of discord and strife. Apep was the serpent of chaos in Kemetic mythology.

According to Snorri’s Icelandic account in the Prose Edda Gylfaginning 49, Balder was killed by a spear or arrow of mistletoe. According to Saxo Grammaticus’ Danish account in the Gesta Danorum, Balder was killed in battle by a magic sword named Mistletoe. Both were written in the late 12th/early 13th centuries.

The tale of Siegfried,  Gudrun and Brunhild is told in many early medieval Scandinavian and Germanic texts. The tricking of Brunhild and her revenge is central to all versions. Izzy’s story is from the Prose Edda and the Volsunga Saga.

Chapter 20
What Andrew says about alliin and allicin is true.

Chocolate can kill dogs, depending on the level of theobromine in it. Dark chocolate or cocoa powder is worse than milk chocolate.

According to the 1st-century Greek historian Diodorus Siculus (Bibliotheca Historica iii 70), the Gorgon Aix was a transgender fire breathing monster. Their skin is Athena’s aegis. The name Aix means stormy and/or goaty.

In Greek mythology, Athena killed Ladon and helped Perseus kill Medusa. Medusa and Echidna were sisters.

The story about the constellation Draco comes from the 1st-century Roman author Hyginus Astronomica 2.3. The constellation is most clearly seen during the summer due to its size.

Echidnas are known as spiny anteaters. They live in Australia or New Guinea.

Daimones (δαίμονες) = Greek spirits, lesser gods and other mythological beings.

There are different versions of the story of Medusa. The best known comes from the 1st-century Roman poet Ovid (Metamorphoses 4. 770). In his version, Poseidon rapes Medusa in Athena’s temple and Athena transformed her hair into snakes. However, the 5th-century BCE dramatist Aeschylus (Prometheus Bound 788) claimed Medusa and her sisters all had snake hair.

The sculpture described is Medusa with the Head of Perseus by Luciano Garbati.

In Southern Slavic folklore, hali (singular hala) are dragons who bring storms. Their enemies are zmei – benevolent dragons – or the offspring of male dragons and human women. I made up the bit about hali being descendants of Aix.

Chapter 21
The Old English tale Beowulf famously begins Hweat! which is a word to make people pay attention. I’ve rendered it as ‘Listen up!’ The other lines Declan recites are my renditions of the beginning of Beowulf.

The length of a re-entry ban to the UK for a deported person is true.

The Island of Doctor Moreau is a science fiction novel by HG Wells.

Chapter 22
What is said about the UK government’s treatment of the Windrush generation is true. Anyone who had arrived in the UK from a Commonwealth country before 1973 was granted an automatic right to remain permanently. The Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 specifically protected long-standing residents of the UK from Commonwealth countries from enforced removal. This changed in 2012 although the Windrush Scandal, as it became known, didn’t receive press coverage until November 2017 onwards.

The hostile environment enforced by the British government extended well beyond the Windrush generation and their children. It covered people from European countries and Commonwealth nations such as Nigeria, Canada and Australia.

Chapter 24
In Heathen mythology, the Well of Wyrd or lake Urðarbrunnr (Old Norse= Well of Urð) lies beneath one of the three roots of the world tree Yggdrasil. Its water turns things white. See Poetic Edda Voluspa,  and the Poetic Edda Gylfaginning 15-16 and  Skaldskaparmal).

The Old Norse names for the three Great Norns are Urðr (what is), Verðandi (becoming) and Skuld (should/ought to). Skuld is described as a valkyrie in both the Poetic Edda Voluspa and the Prose Edda Gylfaginning 36.

Chapter 28
Aigle is an ancient Greek name meaning light or radiance.

Peeva is a female Bulgarian surname. The male form is Peev.

Hali are from Balkans folklore.

Chapter 29
What Declan says about Typhon and his family is from Greek mythology.

Hel and Jormungand (the Midgard Serpent) are two of Loki’s children. Jormungand encircles the world underwater. Hel’s kingdom is also called Niflheim. 

Hvergelmir is a spring in Niflheim, under one of the three roots of Yggdrasil. See the Prose Edda Gylfaginning 15.

Nidhogg is a dragon who lives in Hvergelmir with many snakes. See the Prose Edda Gylfaginning 16. He feeds on corpses.

Chapter 30
In Heathen mythology, Rind’s son was prophesied to revenge the death of Odhin’s son, Balder. There are two very different accounts of Balder’s death.  Danish historian Saxo Grammaticus (Gesta Danorum book 3) has him killed in a swordfight while Snorri Sturluson has Loki guide the god Hödr to shoot Balder with an arrow. (Prose Edda Gyfaginning 49). Earlier poems in the Poetic Edda place all the blame on Hödr (Voluspa and Baldrs Draumar). Both Eddas name Rind’s son as the foe and slayer of Hödr.

Hnefatafl (possibly ‘King’s Table’ in Old Norse) was a popular pre-Christian Nordic strategy board game. It was supplanted by chess during the 12th century.

Don't mention the war (British idiom) = don't speak about things that could cause an argument. It was first used in the popular 1970s British TV comedy series Fawlty Towers, in the episode The Germans.

Saxo Grammaticus has a detailed account of the rape of Rind by Odhin in Gesta Danorum book 3. It was carried out to produce the child foretold to avenge Balder’s death by killing Hödr.

In Heathen mythology, Eir is a goddess associated with healing.

Chapter 31
Dander (Northern Irish idiom) = stroll.

The Grand Tour was the 17th/18th-century European custom of upper-class young men spending time journeying through Europe. Greece was rarely included.

Chapter 33
Fisherman's Friend is an English brand of strong menthol lozenges.

Chapter 34
Rupert and green are SAS slang. Rupert = officer and green = non-SAS army.

Chapter 35
In Greek mythology, Paris was asked to judge which of three goddesses was the most beautiful. It led to the Trojan War.

St George was from Cappadocia, which became part of Turkey. He was revered by Muslims as a prophet. One artefact shows him trampling on serpents and one prominent legend is about him slaying a dragon. According to Muslim legend, he was killed three times by a Roman emperor and came back to life. Other legends had his killer as the king of Mosel.

In Heathen mythology, someone called Gullveig was killed by the Aesir gods three times and came back to life each time. Many people identify Gullveig with Freyja.

Chapter 36
The Oklahoma City bombing (1995) was perpetrated by anti-government extremists and killing 168 people and injuring over 680. Anders Behring Breivik is a Norwegian right-wing extremist whose attacks (2011) killed 77 people and injured over 300.

Chapter 37
Beaky is used to address Djehuty (Thoth) in the third of the negative confessions in the Hall of Ma’at, from the Kemetic Book of the Dead.

Set was known as the Red Lord, Lord of the Red Land (Desert), Rage of the Storm and the Drunkard, among other things. He is one of forty-two judges of the negative confessions in the Hall of Ma’at. Sutekh is the commonest form of his name used in ancient Egypt, though Set is also used.

In Rodnovery (modern revival of the Slavic pagan religions), Veles’ festival day falls in February.

An account by the 12th-century Arab or Kurdish historian Ali Ibn al-Athir states that God sent a great storm when St George died.

Chapter 38
There is strong anti-Turkish feeling in modern Bulgaria, which used forced assimilation and expulsion of Bulgarian Turks during the late 20th century.

Chapter 39
In Heathen mythology, Odhin, Hœnir and Loðurr create the first people: Ask and Embla (Poetic Edda Voluspa 17). Many scholars identify Loðurr as Loki. His contribution was to provide shape and colour to the first couple.

Chapter 40
Cake and arse party (British military slang) = a job that goes wrong.

Hanging out (British military slang) = suffering ill effects.

Knocking shop (British slang) = a brothel.

Chapter 43
Abyzou is from ancient Hebrew folklore, Yuxa is from Tatar (Turkish), Nur-onna from Japanese and Baba Yaga from Slavic. All are wyrm-women who kill children and men.

In Balkan mythology, a hala took the appearance of a dense mist or fog, or a black cloud.

Declan refers to Éowyn slaying the lord of the Nazgûl in Tolkien’s  The Lord of the Rings.

Chapter 45
Acute heart attack can be treated with nitrates to reduce blood pressure.

Lily pollen is toxic to cats.

A cardiac arrest deprives the brain of blood as long as the heart isn’t beating. That can cause brain damage.

Chapter 49
In Slavic mythology, the Sudzhenitsy (South Slavic) or Rozhanitsy (Russian and East Slavic) are three goddesses who determine fate. They are often represented as beautiful young women with candles.

Moirai (Greek) = the goddess of fate.

Leshy (Russian) = a forest spirit.

Elenitsa (Greek) = endearing diminutive of Eleni.

Agapi mou (Greek) = my love.

Heart disease is the major cause of death in Bulgaria.

Chapter 50
Doing my head in (Northern Irish idiom) = annoying me.

Chapter 53
Declan recites part of verse 142 from the Havamal in the Poetic Edda. The phrasing is mine.

In the ancient Icelandic text Egil’s Saga, Egil Skallagrimsson used magic to uncover an attempt to poison him by carving runes into a drinking horn and staining them with his blood.

The runes on the axe are from the Anglo-Frisian Futhorc. The futhorc rune poem renders eolh (sedge) as a plant that wounds and draws blood.

Chapter 57
In the Icelandic Vatnsdæla Saga 44, a magic worker makes a man forget by having him struck three times on his left cheek with a ‘staff-stick’.

Nabrok (Icelandic = corpse britches) or necropants are a pair of pants made from the skin of a dead man or woman (with their prior permission) and worn to produce an endless supply of money. The spell for necropants appears in an early modern Icelandic grimoire. The pair on show at the Museum of Icelandic Sorcery and Witchcraft is a mock-up. There’s no evidence the spell was ever used.

Chapter 58
According to the Prose Edda Gylfaginning 20 and the Poetic Edda Lokasenna, Frigg sees the future.

In Heathen mythology, magic was restricted to the Vanir gods before Freyja taught it to the Aesir gods (including Odhin and Loki). See the Ynglinga Saga 4. Loki is counted as Aesir according to the Prose Edda Gylfaginning 34.

Chapter 59
UK electoral records from 1832 are on view in the British Library.