Risingshadow has the honour of publishing a guest post by Ian Stuart Sharpe.
About Ian Stuart Sharpe:
Ian Sharpe was born in London, UK, and now lives in British Columbia, Canada. Having worked for the BBC, IMG, Atari and Electronic Arts, he is now CEO of a tech start up. As a child he discovered his love of books, sci-fi and sagas: devouring the works of Douglas Adams, J.R.R. Tolkien, Terry Pratchett and George MacDonald Fraser alongside Snorri Sturluson and Sigvat the Skald. He once won a prize at school for Outstanding Progress and chose a dictionary as his reward, secretly wishing it had been an Old Norse phrasebook. The All Father Paradox is his first novel.
About The All Father Paradox:
What if an ancient god escaped his fate... and history was thrown to the wolves?
Churchwarden Michaels thought it was just a run-of-the-mill crazy old man who stood in the graveyard, hellbent on studying the thousand-year-old Viking memorial there. But when things start changing and outright disappearing, Michaels realizes there is more to this old man than meets the eye. Now, Michaels finds himself swept up in an ancient god’s quest to escape his destiny by reworking reality, putting history - and to Michaels’s dismay, Christianity itself - to the Viking sword. In this new Vikingverse, storied heroes of mankind emerge in new and brutal guises drawn from the sagas:
A young Norse prince plots to shatter empires and claim the heavens...
A scholar exiled to the frontier braves the dangers of the New World, only to find those “new worlds” are greater than he imagined...
A captured Jötunn plants the dreams of freedom during a worlds-spanningwar...
A bold empress discovers there is a price for immortality, one her ancestors have come to collect...
With the timelines stretched to breaking point, it’s up to Churchwarden Michaels to save reality as we know it...
GUEST POST: “What's in a name?” by Ian Stuart Sharpe
When I set out to write The All Father Paradox, I knew I wanted to explore the Medieval struggle between Christian and Norse and how it might have played out. It quickly became apparent that I couldn’t just write an alternate history by throwing a few new dates on the calendar or making sure map boundaries were redrawn. A credible, authentic world needed more than that – it needed a new language.
Or rather, a very old one...
One of the novel’s underlying premises is that Christianity is put to the Viking sword. It follows then, that if the ubiquity of the medieval Roman Catholic Church receded, then so would the influence of Latin. When taken to its logical conclusion, this reduction of Latin as a building block would radically affect the way the English language developed. The Germanic components, specifically the Dǫnsk tunga ("Danish tongue") or the Norrœnt mál ("Norse speech") would come to the fore. And so - as the book jacket says – the storied heroes of mankind emerge in new and brutal guises drawn from the sagas. Old Norse becomes the new norm.
And so, as we fight through the pages of my altered Vikingverse timeline, many of the characters might seem strangely familiar. Reflected in the cracked mirror of a parallel universe, names have subtly changed. For example, Karl Dýrrvin is an eminent scientist known to us as Charles Darwin. Aðalbriktr Einnsteinen is none other than Albert Einstein.
Fortunately for the reader, English and Norse have common ancestry. Over the centuries, names of people and places have modernized but you might find it surprising to find there many common words that are rooted in the Viking Age. Even today, when you know where to look, the Old Norse rót is still apparent among the tangle of Anglo-Saxon, French and Latin roots. Make no mistaka about it – from byrðr (birth) until we deyja (die) – the raw energy of the Norse shapes many of our words. Just look at a Viking the rangr way, and he might þrysta (thrust) a knifr into your skulle. Even more modern terms are inspired by ancient origins: the brand name Kindle stems from the Norse kynda.
You might not find so many Bjorns or Brittas outside of Scandinavia these days, but just about every other Tom, Dick or Harry can still point to an ancient Germanic origin. It was great fun as an author to try and break down the modern names and build them up again from the Old Norse root.
The basic Old Norse name, like many names of Indo-European origin was usually composed of two name elements. Although some names had only one element, such as Biôrn, Ormr or Úlfr, they were most often combined. For example: Starkaðr (Combination of STARK and HAD), Bjǫrnulfr (BJÖRN and ULF), Ragnarr (RAGN and HER).
Take Dick, for example, short for Richard. The equivalent in Old Norse is Rikarðr, made up of two components – RIK which meant mighty, and HARD, meaning strong. Or Harry/Harold, which was once the regal name Haraldr; it combines both HERR ‘warrior’ and VALD ‘ruler’. Or Charles, which was once the Frankish Háriolus, seen in the novel as the simpler form Karl. As mentioned above, the meaning of the name Darwin in Old English is ‘dear friend’, which finds an equivalent, Dýrrvin, in the sister Norse tongue.
The second batch of names required historical research to make sense of. Anders Celsius (the man who proposed the Celsius temperature scale which bears his name) was born in Uppsala, on the family estate known as Högen, which broadly means ‘mound’ in English. His name was then a Latinization, taken from the estate (the Latin Celsus equates to "mound"). Remove the Latin influence and, hey presto, the name reverts easily to the original Scandinavian form.
Still other names are now only found attached Catholic schools or buried in the bricks of cities - Botulfr, derived from the Old Norse word for wolf, would transform over time to Botolph. The City of Boston, Massachusetts, is named for the 7th century saint who bore that name: Botulf's Stone/Boston. In the novel, I had only to simply revert to the past – on my maps, Boston more clearly displays its Old Norse heritage.
A third group of names couldn’t be reconstructed but had to be scrapped of substituted. My own Christian name wouldn’t feature in the Vikingverse timeline. Ian is a Scottish form of John, which comes from the Hebrew via Greek and Latin, meaning ‘God is gracious’. Since we did away with all that in the novel, the only surviving bearers of my name would be lost in the Kristin fringes. Similarly, Adam is a very common, almost quintessential, name now. Unsurprisingly, it comes from the Hebrew, meaning ‘man’. But in Norse mythology the first man, born of the ash, is Askr. There is no Garden of Eden to speak of. So whenever I came across an Adam in our history, I simply made the switch.
My family name, Sharpe, is another matter. Like many second names, it is a nickname, in this case for a quick or smart person, deriving from the Middle English "scharp", itself a development of the Olde English pre 7th Century "scearp". The Old Norse byname for the same rogue would have been Skarpi. Frightening similar, I am sure you’ll agree. I did think about changed all my social media profiles to match.
Sometimes, the choice of names helped change the course of the story. In most of the early drafts of the novel, the character of the Queen of the Storm Hall was simply known as Saga. She'd been the first character I had put down on the page – I distinctly remember sitting at my desk, one wintry night thinking about what a modern Norse empress would wear. I eventually based by description on some Jean Paul Gaultier couture and she immediately sprang to life.
It was only much later, when the first draft was complete, when I was thinking about a synopsis for publishers, that I stumbled onto some interesting historical research that made me tweak her further.
Donald Trump, the 45th President of the United States, is a likely descendant of the Norse.
It sounds like more fake news doesn’t it? But articles at the time I was writing pointed out that Trump’s mother, a Scottish immigrant, hailed from the Isle of Lewis, part of the Outer Hebrides. These islands were raided and settled by Vikings as early as the ninth century and then belonged to Norse Kingdom of the Isles for four hundred years! After that, the Highlander Clan MacLeod ruled Lewis, from the end of the Viking heyday through the early modern era (they were eventually eclipsed by the Mackenzie’s in the 17th century).
Now, the Clan MacLeod apparently has a unique genetic makeup. The Y-chromosome found in half of all MacLeod men is found in Lewis, Harris and Skye - core Macleod territory - but also in Orkney, Shetland and Norway, with a few examples in Sweden. But almost nowhere else. Simply put, the genetic evidence points to their Norse invader lineage. I’m no expert, but the opportunity to hold a cracked mirror up to the present day as well as the past was too good to miss. With the universe clearly conspiring, I decided to change Saga’s name to something more...topical.
Trumba comes from the Old Norse, via the Old French trompe and Italian tromba. But readers needn’t worry...as the great Skald, Vilhjalmr Shakageirr famously wrote, “a hrósa by any other name would smell as sweet”!