Novel Novice Feature: Dragon, Beowulf & mythology in YA

Our featured book this week is steeped in mythology, but you don’t have to be an expert to understand it. Actually, there are many types of mythology, but The Coming of the Dragon focuses on Scandinavian/Nordic mythology. Below, you’ll find a primer on some of the figures and concepts you’ll find mentioned in The Coming of the Dragon.

Primer on Scandinavian mythology

For a quick and dirty introduction to Scandinavian/Nordic mythology, the wikipedia entry for Beowulf is actually pretty useful and has some good sources.

  • Thor: hammer-wielding god associated with thunder, lightning, storms, oak trees, strength, destruction, fertility, healing and the protection of humans
  • Freya: a goddess associated with love, beauty, fertility, gold, witchcraft, war and death; she rules over her heavenly afterlife field Fólkvangr and there receives half of those who die in battle– the other half go to the god Odin’s hall, Valhalla (see next entry)
  • Valhalla: a majestic, enormous hall ruled over by the god Odin; half of those who die in combat travel to Valhalla upon death
  • Loki: Loki sometimes assists the gods and sometimes causes problems for them. Loki is a shape shifter and in separate incidents he appears in the form of a salmon, mare, seal, a fly, and possibly an elderly woman. (Random tidbit: Loki is also the name of author Maggie Stiefvater’s car.)
  • Fenrir: a monstrous wolf, the son of Loki (Harry Potter fans, this name should be familiar to you!)
  • Midgard serpent:  a sea serpent and the middle child of Loki; he grew so big that he is able to surround the Earth and grasp his own tail. When he lets go, the world will end.

Recommended reading

Want to learn more about mythology? To go to the source, read a translation of Beowulf, but here are a few Young Adult titles on Greek mythology to consider:

And coming out in April of 2011 is Meg Cabot’s latest, Abandon, which is a modern retelling of Persephone.

2 thoughts on “Novel Novice Feature: Dragon, Beowulf & mythology in YA

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  1. Hi! Great website! Thought I would mention that my new novel, PENELOPE’S DAUGHTER, though it isn’t actually YA, has a strong young heroine and I think young women would like it. It’s a retelling of the Odyssey from the point of view of the female characters, as narrated by a daughter born after Odysseus leaves for Troy. Check out my website page for the book at

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