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Book Review for Elves, Wights and Trolls by Kveldulf Gundarsson

Updated on October 20, 2014

Elves, Wights and Trolls Book Review

The book Elves, Wights, and Trolls: Studies Toward the Practice of Germanic Heathenry, by Kveldulf Gundarsson is an excellent exposition concerning the nature and characteristics of the otherworldly beings found in the northern tradition of heathenry, paganism, or Ásatrú; it is one of the most thorough and up-to-date investigations concerning the elves (alfs) of Norse and Germanic folklore to have ever been written.

The author of Elves, Wights, and Trolls, Stephen Grundy (aka Kveldulf Gundarsson), holds a doctorate in Old Norse from the University of Cambridge, and has written numerous texts on Germanic magic and religion since 1989 including: Our Troth: History and Lore, Teutonic Magic: The Magical and Spiritual Practices of the Germanic People, and Teutonic Religion: Folk Beliefs & Practices of the Northern Tradition. He was also formerly the Lore Warden and Master of the Elder Training Program for the Ring of Troth (an Ásatrú organization associated with the Ásatrú Free Assembly).

In his book, Gundarsson provides an exhaustive analysis of the nature and characteristics of elves and wights (intelligent otherworldly beings of all sorts) as well as giants, trolls, and dwarfs, and furnishes a plethora of well-documented information concerning their social structures, habits, habitats, and abilities. He also provides means for communing with and understanding these invisible neighbors including the use of modern as well as antiquated rites, spells, and charms.

Elves, Wights, and Trolls explains (among other things) that elves are most easily spotted at twilight or around Midsummer or Yule; that despite common knowledge concerning the acceptance of food or gifts from their Celtic counterparts (the Sidhe), it is best to never reject offerings of food or gifts from the elves of northern European folklore (with the exception of trolls); that one should never lie directly to an elf; that elves are easily offended by nosy questions; that it is unwise to join in an elf-dance; and that it is always in the individual's best interest to give warning to the alfs and land-wights before lighting fires, relieving one's self outdoors, or tossing boiling water upon the ground.

In addition, the book includes a very short glossary of terms (6 pages), a rough guide to pronunciation which is indispensable to the serious researcher, an abundance of informative footnotes, and a very large and useful bibliography (referred to by the author as a Book-Hoard) containing a list of over one hundred fifty books and articles where the reader may find additional and corroboratory information.

Also included in the book is an appendix containing 'Mother Earth and Her Children', an article by Kveldulf Gundarsson originally published in Idunna 36, Harvest 1998, and a new translation of the little-known Icelandic skaldic poem "Berg-Dweller's Song".

Elves, Wights, and Trolls: Studies Toward the Practice of Germanic Heathenry: Vol. I by Kveldulf Gundarsson (Lincoln, NE: iUniverse, Inc. 2007, ISBN 0-595-42165-2) is destined to be a mandatory reference book for folklorists and heathens for decades to come. It is highly recommended and is sure to be a favorite addition to any elf-enthusiast's library.

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