Saturday, May 10, 2008

D'ye ken kennings?

Viking bards got to mess about with alliteration and ... kennings. Codes. Riddles. Things like saying "Freyja's tears" when they meant "gold" because everybody would know the story about Freyja searching for her husband Oor, weeping golden tears (the way you do). Or "Baldur's bane" when they meant "mistletoe" because of the story where all the plants and creatures promised never to harm Baldur, except for the mistletoe which for some reason nobody bothered to ask. Always a mistake. So what happened next was Baldur's friend Hodur was tricked into shooting an arrow at him that was tipped with - you guessed it - mistletoe, and that was the end of Baldur.

Or how about ...
"Sun of the house" = "fire"
"Storm-vat" = "sky"
"Fjord-herd" = "herring"

I have to admit I'm having trouble shoe-horning any of these into the Viking books I'm writing just now, but I'm having good fun collecting them. Modern kennings would be good too ...

"Road-eater" = "car"
"Rib-rumbler" = "cat"
"Tardis-cargo" = Dr Who

Yes, well. Please send in any modern kennings that come to mind
- I know I'll find a use for them some day!

Cheers, Joan.


At 8:48 AM, Blogger Antonia said...


I was sent 'The Seventh Tide' to review, and absolutely loved it. I'll definitely be reading more of your books (must seek out 'Questors' now). I'm a children's librarian, and will be promoting them in the library, too!

If you'd like to read my review, it's at under the reviews for ages "9+". Sorry, I don't think I can link directly to it.

Thanks for a wonderful story - I look forward to reading more!

Best wishes,
Antonia Gray

At 11:54 AM, Blogger Joan Lennon said...

What a great review! I, too, have a soft spot for D.D. Hamilton, the heroic librarian. Many thanks for reading the books - and the blog! - and for what you wrote.
Cheers, Joan.


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