The end of the world is upon us! At least, that’s what the Vikings say—and who are we to argue with Vikings?
Ragnarök, or The Doom of the Gods, is set to occur February 22, and tells of an epic battle that will destroy Asgard and all the other nine worlds in Norse mythology, Earth included. Those who take the warning seriously have spent the last week preparing at the annual Jorvik Viking Festival in York, UK. Here’s what they say Ragnarök will bring down on us:
Ragnarök will begin when the wolf, Fenrir, son of Loki, breaks free of his imprisonment. This will lead to a chain reaction of events including the Midgard snake Jormungand rising from the sea and a wolf devouring the sun. Everything will come to a head in a huge battle that draws in the Gods, men and all the races of the nine worlds.
All these events were prophesied by the Allfather, Odin who had hung himself from the world tree, Yggdrasill, for nine days so that he died and would be reborn with wisdom and foresight. The wisdom acquired by Odin allowed him to see the events of Ragnarök, enabling him to plan for the end of the world, including rounding up all the Vikings heroes who died in battle to Valhalla, his great hall where they would feast and wait for the end of the world and the battle to end all battles.
This is an unfortunate time for the world to end: Norse mythology’s popularity has been on the rise with the successful film adaptations of Marvel’s Thor comics and with author Rick Riordan announcing a new series based off of the Norse myths.
But there’s hope! Ragnarök is only the end of this world. A new and better world is set to rise from the water, and two lone human survivors will repopulate the Earth. To better your chances of being one of those two, read up on these five representations of Ragnarök in literature.
When A.S. Byatt was asked to write a retelling of a myth, she knew she had to cover Ragnarök, “the myth to end all myths.” Going semi-autobiographical, she decided to tell it through the eyes of a little girl during WWII, who is sent from London to the countryside to avoid the German blitzkrieg, and who discovers a book of Norse myths. Considering this little girl’s day-to-day existence, the world must have seemed like it was ending; the myth of Ragnarök comes to life for her. Through this child, Byatt draws parallels between the myth and real life: The human race become the gods, destroying themselves and the world.
With Ragnarök approaching, it’s time for the gods to fulfill their prophesied roles. There’s only one problem—the gods are already dead. However, all is not lost, as their descendants live on, having inherited their powers. In order to prevent the total destruction of the world, a champion must stand in for the long-gone gods. Protagonist Matthew Thompson had been living like any normal kid, despite being Thor’s descendant—after all, he’s not the only one. But when the runes pick him as the one to take Thor’s place, he must embrace his powers and his destiny.
In a comic about a Norse god, it’s not surprising that someone is always trying to bring about Ragnarök. Yet, even with Loki’s schemes bringing Asgard to the brink of Ragnarök, it usually turns out to be a false alarm or even a false Ragnarök created by Odin. To make things even more confusing, there’s also an anti-Thor character named Ragnarok. However, in Michael Oeming’s Avengers Disassembled, it truly appears as if Ragnarök is coming. But, even when teaming up with the Avengers, will Thor save Asgard or destroy it?
4. Norse Code
In Greg Van Eekhout’s Norse Code, Ragnarök comes to California. Mist, a descendant of Odin, is unwillingly tasked with creating an army for the great war that will end the world. Mist was once Kathy Castillo, an MBA student who was killed and then was brought back as a Valkyrie—a creature that decides what soldiers will live or die in battle. But Mist has her own plans to take this battle, and her destiny, into her own hands. Because even though there’s an ancient myth that supposedly lays out the events, isn’t better to try to change fate rather than blindly accepting it?
When a story is adapted into an MMORPG, you know it must be epic. This manga series follows the warrior Chaos, who has lost his memory of the past two years, though he can’t recall how. He moves to Fayon, a city of warriors, and with each battle gains back some past life. Fenris Fenrir, on the hunt for Balder reincarnated—the god of beauty whose death will bring about the events of Ragnarök—is oddly interested in him. Who is he? How will he prevent Ragnarök? Can he?