The Northern Wrath Soundtrack

While I wrote my Norse-galore debut novel, Northern Wrath, I often listened to music to get into the right mindset. This means that even today certain songs make me think of specific chapters I wrote while listening to that song.

Today, we're looking at some songs that fit specific chapters in Northern Wrath.

It's a spoiler free blog. Spoilers have been hidden and will only be revealed by highlighting the specified sections. The hidden spoiler sections go into more specifics about why certain songs and chapters go together in my mind.


Let's get into it...

THE MUSIC


I mostly wrote Northern Wrath while listening to five albums by three different artists. In the acknowledgement of Northern Wrath, I mention the two artists whose songs I used the most to get into a writing mood.


Let's have a look at the three artists before we do a chapter by chapter run-down.

WARDRUNA


Wardruna is a Norwegian band who use traditional and historical instruments. In their music you will hear branches tapped on tree trunks. You'll hear water flowing, and thunder in the distance. You'll hear horses neighing, and steps crunching through thick snow as the wind howls.


These are the sounds of the vikings.


When I started writing Northern Wrath, they had two albums out, the first two in their Rune trilogy (Runaljod) , Gap var Ginnunga and Yggdrasil.


I listened to those albums almost daily and they truly helped transport me into the Viking world when I sat down for a writing session.

Wardruna's later albums such as Ragnarok and Skald pictured on the photo above had not yet come out when I was writing Northern Wrath.

AGNES OBEL


Agnes Obel is a Danish artist who makes music full of an ancient melancholy. Simple piano and string instruments accompanied by her soothing voice.


When I was writing Northern Wrath, Agnes Obel's first two albums, Philharmonics and Aventine played whenever Wardruna did not. The melancholy and longing in Agnes Obel's music particularly helped to shape Tyra and Siv.

BROKEN TWIN


Finally, we have Broken Twin who is another Danish artist who sings full of melancholy. There is also something haunting about the music, and that feeling particularly shaped the tone of my writing while listening to Broken Twin.


I pulled forth her debut album, May, during the writing of more mystic chapters or passages full of grief.

THE CHAPTERS


I mainly used the music during pivotal moments of the story. Here I will talk about the music that left a big impact on me when I was writing a particular scene.


Therefore the list is not an exhaustive list of all the chapters in the book, but it highlights parts of the novel where music played an integral part in my writing process.


I have inserted the excerpt from the artists' own Soundcloud or Spotify in an effort to directly refer back to the artists. I obviously encourage you to give them all proper listenss


Chapter 1 : Einer

There is an atmosphere and progression in this song that truly fits the first chapter. The first line of song (It's so cold out here) also fits the icy setting and the feelings that Einer struggles with in this opening chapter.


There's also a rhythm that feels like a slightly elevated heartbeat throughout the song which seems like it warns of approaching danger.


Chapter 2 : Hilda

To me, this song smells of a bonfire on a sunny day and festivities. Therefore it is a perfect listen to get into the mood for Midsummer. The rhythm makes me want to stomp along in a dance. Therefore it is the perfect companion for Chapter 2.


Chapter 3 : Einer

This one probably does not come as a surprise to anyone who knows the song. To those of you who don't, I hereby introduce you to my favourite Norse track.


It was the first Wardruna song I ever heard and it was absolutely instrumental in my writing of this chapter (pun very much intended).


Many of my picks for the start of the novel are Wardruna, and that is because the sounds in these tracks help to understand the Norse culture, which is the key to opening chapters; getting a sense where we are and who we are following.


Highlight the white field below to see spoilers for chapter 3.

Seeing as Helvegen means the way to Hel, I listened to this song for all of my funerary scenes. When I initially heard the song, I felt like it was a very Norse idea to sing the dead into the next life and honour them with song and happiness. I ended up using that as a motif throughout the story.


On another note, the two ending verses of this song are a section of Havamal (Odin's high speech) from the Poetic Edda, and it is a portion that of the Havamal that I myself use throughout the story as it seems to encompass the Old Norse beliefs about life and death.

End of spoilers.


Darkness

The loneliness, the inner monologue and the melancholy in this song perfectly represents most the Darkness chapters. There is a mourning and a pain in this song, and so it was often my music pick when I had to write a Darkness chapter.


Chapter 4 : Hilda

There is a similar tension in this song as there is in the chapter and the song progresses in a similar way too.


Highlight the white field below to see spoilers for chapter 4.

As Hilda sees the southerners in the forest, and realises something is wrong, the urgency and sense of danger in this song reflects Hilda's journey well. As the song progresses, there are heavy breaths too, which matches well as Hilda has been heaving a body through the forest.

End of spoilers.


Chapter 7 : Tyra

This is a hesitant and timid song, almost reluctant at times. There is a feeling of being swept along by the current in this song, and a sound of innocence.


It's also hyper focused. There is no singing to distract, and not a multitude of sounds either. The piano carried everything and while it gets helped along from time to time, it exits almost in an all consuming vacuum.


Highlight the white field below to see spoilers for chapter 7.

It may surprise some readers to see me pair such a soft song with such a brutal battle scene, and yet, to me this is Tyra's inner voice. It's why the battle is brutal. Tyra is swept up in it. She is just a young girl, and there is a loneliness and voicelessness in this song, which makes me remember Tyra's first battle.

End of spoilers.


Chapter 12 : Runemistress

There is something possessed about this track and an honestly and desperation to reach the gods that makes me think Hilda. Yet, these aspects of the song were also a big help when I was writing this Runemistress chapter.


Chapter 19 : Hilda

This song's title, Kauna, is the name of the rune of fire, and so it fits rather well with a theme of this chapter.


Highlight the white field below to see spoilers for chapter 19.

The rhythm almost feels like hammer strokes, the fire is burning, and demons are chanting. The deep manly voice is also exactly how I imagine the smith sounds.

Fire, danger, smithing, this song has it all.

End of spoilers.


Chapter 20 : Siv

This, like most of Agnes Obel songs, truly carries Siv's voice. Her collected mindset, the slow and elegant way she moves through life, and her nostalgia.


Highlight the white field below to see spoilers for chapter 20.

"They won't know who we are" begins the song, and it is quite appropriate for a chapter that begins to reveal who Siv truly is and the extent of her abilities. The later lyrics in the song are also symbolic in that this is the chapter that extends a hand to invite Buntrugg into the narrative.

End of spoilers.


Darkness after Chapter 21

Especially this Darkness chapter seems to be well represented by the feeling expressed in this song, and sometimes even the lyrics too. Many of the Darkness chapters hold a similar tone of melancholy and pain as performed on this track.


Chapter 22 : Einer

There are definitely tones here that resonate exactly with the chapter in question.


Highlight the white field below to see spoilers for chapter 22.

The pace is slow, and is a good fit for rowing. We have the rain and thunder, and the danger in the tone. This chapter is full of danger and doom. Equally the blow of horns feel like a cry for help, which is why our warriors are rowing to Normandy in the first place.

End of spoilers.


Chapter 26 : Tyra

The innocence in Broken Twin's voice always makes me think of Tyra, for it caries such sadness too. Even the lyrics to this song seem to perfectly match the events of the chapter. The sadness and yet equally excitement and happiness found in this tune is really what sets this song apart for me and the reason it fits Tyra so well.


Highlight the white field below to see spoilers for chapter 26.

"With a silver ring" the song begins, as Tyra sits across from the scary Runemistress and notices Hilda's silver arm-ring. And so the song takes off as Tyra begins to envision a life beyond Ash-Hill and gets answers to her questions. It is here that Tyra truly realises what their quest is and what it means that time is running out to save the nine worlds.

End of spoilers.


Chapter 31 : Siv

I'm afraid I can say very little here that is spoiler-free, except that again, Agnes Obel's voice really helped me to nail Siv as a character.


Highlight the white field below to see spoilers for chapter 31.

This is the first time we truly experience Siv's strength and the Forefathers, which one can say is Siv's curse but equally a blessing in disguise. As is Tyra's presence with her, for Siv has to act differently a lot of the time in order to protect Tyra, and while that can be troublesome, it is also her reason for being. There is a true bond between these two women and was it not for Tyra, Siv would be very different character.

For me, as a writer, this chapter was the first instance the forefathers ever appeared. Every prior instance where they are referenced and included was added in a later draft.

End of spoilers.


Chapter 33 : Hilda

There are sounds here that dictate this entire chapter.


Highlight the white field below to see spoilers for chapter 33.

Hear the hooves and the horse at the beginning? And the howls in the distance too? Yes, this is the chapter where Hilda rides away, and Sigismund and his wolf come chasing after her.

End of spoilers.


Chapter 45 : Tyra

Of all Tyra's chapters in Northern Wrath, this is probably the most melancholic, and the symbolism of the song truly fits. It's still hopeful, as Tyra is, but it has a sadness too.


Highlight the white field below to see spoilers for chapter 45.

This chapter is a blend of three different Tyra chapters I had written. One of them I especially can't help but think about when I listen to this song. It was a quite early chapter. After the fight in Ash-hill, Tyra was sitting at Ash-hill's harbour. She had been reunited with the other children of Ash-hill, but they had not been at war, and Tyra had. So she spent her time alone, away from the others. Obviously none of that happens in the book any longer, but there was a time... And chapter 45, has the only remnant of Tyra's most melancholic moment to date.

End of spoilers.


Chapter 48 : Buntrugg

Doesn't this perfectly describe Buntrugg's constant plight? There is a contentment in this song that fits well with this section of the book as well, and with Buntrugg's character.


Highlight the white field below to see spoilers for chapter 48.

After Buntrugg's climb up Yggdrasil, he gains a calm, which is saying a lot, for Buntrugg was always quite clam despite his young years. At this point, he has accepted that his life is a constant flow of impossible quests for Surt and that is all it will be and so he begins to take pleasure in his tasks, especially as he revives Bafir.

End of spoilers.


Darkness after Chapter 49

This song of both melancholy and hope is a perfect fit for this particular Darkness chapter, and perhaps even for the next one too.


Highlight the white field below to see spoilers for Darkness after chapter 49.

At this point in Ragnar's journey in the Darkness, he begins to feel hope for what might become of his future. It is a new beginning for Ragnar, and even the lyrics seem to refer to how far he has come on his journey.

End of spoilers.


Chapter 55 : Buntrugg

A threatening tone for a threatening chapter.


Highlight the white field below to see spoilers for chapter 55.

Do you hear the Forefathers? Do you hear the snap of fire and the threat of Muspel's demons? Those are the sounds that make this chapter, and the threatening tone of the song Løyndomsriss was a perfect match for me.

End of spoilers.


Chapter 56 : Einer

I hear Einer's monologue in this tune, and if you know Einer, you know that he has a loud and constant inner monologue. Always thinking and worrying.


Highlight the white field below to see spoilers for chapter 56.

Agnes Obel is someone I often listened to not only for Siv and Tyra but also to get into Hilda's head, and this particular song to me feels like a mind blend of both Hilda and Einer, which suits the sappy events of the chapter.

End of spoilers.


Chapter 65 : Einer — until the end

This is the feeling of the end to me, and I can say no more without getting into spoilers.

I think the mood in this one speaks for itself.


That is all, dear readers. These were some songs and chapters that go together in my mind.


If you're not tired of me yet:

Read about the historical characters in Northern Wrath

See the Midgard map for Northern Wrath

Find your Northern Wrath fylgja here

Read my historical accuracy breakdown of Assassins creed: Valhalla

Read my breakdown of Viking ships