On Dwarves and Dark Elves

In my upcoming book Across the Kolgan Sea, one of the primary races in play is the Dark Elves, aka Dwarves. Both races are common fare for any fantasy world, as showcased by anything from D&D to Lord of the Rings. However, the Dark elf race of Ilagtten is far, far more sophisticated than the average human-in-funny-hat.

To explain this, I must start with the most basic lore from the original Norse Mythology. Legend holds that the race of Dark Elves arose from maggots, but they were so hideous that the gods cast them into the realm of Svartalfheim (which aptly means ‘Realm of the Dark Elves’). The origin of the Dwarves is a little less cut and dry, though. Some places describe them as being made to hold up the sky, other times, they just exist. Their standard home is the realm of Nidaveller.

Seems straight forward so far, right? Well, here’s when it starts to get fun. Some legends describe Dwarves not only living in Svartalfheim but being sought after there too. When the gods needed some Dwarves to craft a rope strong enough to hold down Fenris, for example, where did they go but Svartalfheim?

This inconsistency has led some scholars to conclude that the Dark Elves and Dwarves are the same race. However, this also leads to some questions about why they have two realms, and why Nidaveller is home only to Dwarves.

My creative solution is to claim that ‘Dwarf’ is a title among Dark Elves. The title, in Dark Elf society, loosely translates to ‘master craftsman,’ and they are similar to a ruling class. Nidaveller only has Dwarves because it is a home for the elite. It also serves to explain why all Dwarves are good at building when no society would form like that. The theory still isn’t perfect, but it does make for a fun twist on the same old creatures.

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