FANTASTIC 13TH – A CHRONICLE OF MAGICAL CREATURES: Jotunn

(image of a frost giant staring down an adventurer. Taken from indie video game “Jotun” by Willian Dube.)

This month’s Fantastic 13th creature is to honor the inevitable cold New England weather the BOM staff are sure to endure in the coming season. It’s the Jotunn!

WHAT IS IT/ORIGIN?

The jotunn (or jotnar) are a race of giants from Norse mythology. Jotunn live in Jotunheimr – one of the many realms in Norse mythology – and were created when extreme cold and burning heat collided to form Ymir. According to legend, when Ymir slept, a son and daughter grew from his armpits. The pair – along with a monstrous brother born from Ymir’s foot – populated Jotunheimr with their incestuous children: the jotunn.

Depiction of jotunn vary story to story. Sometimes seen as hideous feral creatures, other times they appear as giants made of ice with magical abilities. However, there are a few stories that depict jotnar as ethereal beauties that bring all the Gods to the yard.

MODERN USE

jotunn_loki_by_vchrisi
(Tom Hiddleston as Loki in his jotunn make-up. Shared from DeviantArt user VChrisi.)

Jotunn have gain cultural traction recently thanks to the incredible success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, especially the Thor series. It doesn’t hurt that sexy Tom Hiddleston portrayed Loki, the Norse god of mischief, re-imagined as a jotnar.

Excluding the MCU, jotunn appear frequently in video games  including Jotun (see leading image above), World of Warcraft and Guild Wars as well as fantasy media such as Magic The Gathering, Dungeons & Dragons and numerous books set in magical lands.

UNIQUE IDEAS

Like most mythical creatures, the jotunn have cliche pitfalls to avoid. To keep stories with jotunn in them fresh try:

  • magical world. Everyone is some kind of beast, but Main Character is a jotunn learning how to handle their magic.
  • lost traveler. Main Character just wanted a vacation, so after packing up his (or her) jotnar bag, they get lost and end up on Earth. What wacky adventures will they have?
  • self-discovery. Main Character studies literature in Norway only to realize she’s part jotnar. How does her life change?
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