The Eerie Viking Art of Johan Egerkrans
Instagram made me do it...
Today’s post is actually about the first time I ever bought something off an Instragram ad! It was a set of Viking mythology books by Johan Egerkrans advertised through the Swedish company Grimfrost and I have to say the books are absolutely stunning. They are incredibly high quality productions, being oversized and crafted with strong linen bindings, having a laid-in illustration and debossed ink on the covers, along with sewn bindings and a ribbon bookmark, and thick, glossy pages.
The books were originally published in Swedish. They are absolutely gorgeously illustrated in any language, but I’m very happy to have these editions, which have been translated into English by Susan Beard and Annie Prime.
The texts are relatively short in all the books, but accurate and well-researched. However, it’s the stunning illustrations that will convince you to run out and buy these books. Johan has a distinctive style that somehow combines dark hard-edged vision with the whimsy of John Bauer and Arthur Rackham. I love it.
Johan Egerkrans' Myths & Legends
The Norse Gods book covers all the Norse gods, as well as giants, dwarves, monsters and heroes of Norse mythology. The texts are short, and stay quite true to the original Eddas – the medieval Icelandic literary works that are the main sources of Norse mythology. The book imaginatively retells the sagas ranging from the creation myth in which the first giant Ymer is hacked to pieces by Odin and his brothers, to the gods’ final destruction in Ragnarök.
Vaesen are the spirits and monsters that live in the forests and mountains of Scandinavian folklore, deeply rooted in Viking Age culture. In English they are known as the little people or the fair folk – those supernatural beings who are responsible for curdling the milk overnight, or for someone vanishing in the woods. Some of the creatures in the book will be familiar to most, including ghosts, giants, dragons, trolls, werewolves and faeries. Others are endemic to Scandinavia, such as the Neck who rules the rivers, the nightly Mara, the Huldra who guards the forest, tomtar, mylings and many others.
Egerkran’s book of The Undead includes creatures from around the world, ranging from the widespread vampires and zombies, to the beautiful Japanese Snow woman, the Indian Vetala who haunts graveyards, the Scottish water spirit Glaistig, Filipino vampire children, Haitian blood sucking witches, and Arabic demon death eaters.
Dragons, and legends about dragons, have been with us since time immemorial. In almost every culture and religion on earth, serpents and dragons have held a unique and special place. Egerjrans illustrates them all, from the sly Serpent of Paradise, the vile Nidhöggr who gnaws on the world tree Yggdrasil to hot-headed Japanese dragon women and the noble kirin. We’re also introduced to a number of renowned dragon slayers such as Cadmus, Saint George and Beowulf along the way.
This is a very fun game for two players that is based on Norse mythology and also illustrated by Johan Egerkrans. The premise of the game is that every morning Odin sends his ravens, Huginn and Muninn, across the world to bring back news of what life is like on Earth. They’re a little competitive. Players have to race through the (beautifully illustrated) landscape in opposite directions to be the first to return to Odin. It’s simple and quick to play, strategic and enjoyable, and very pretty – the high quality cards and wooden raven pieces add to its charm.
These books form part of my very extensive wizardry and magic bookshelf, for which I have done a video tour if you’re interested in more of these types of books.
For me it was cheapest to buy the books directly from Grimfrost. But I’ve added links to several locations above, and I suggest you check out the different options to see which is best for your location if you’re interested in getting a copy for yourself.