Episode 81: Solitary Fae: Trolls
The folklore of trolls in a nutshell, how I reimagined them for my writing, and this faery translated to Afrikaans.
Written and narrated by Ronel Janse van Vuuren.
Copyright 2023 Ronel Janse van Vuuren — All rights reserved.
Learn more about trolls in folklore here.
Get the transcript here.
Music: Secrets by David Fesliyan (FesliyanStudios.com) and Dramatic Heartbeat by FesliyanStudios.com
You’re listening to the Faeries and Folklore podcast by Ronel.
I’m dark fantasy author Ronel Janse van Vuuren. With nearly a decade of digging around in dusty folklore books, researching creatures of imagination that ignited my curiosity, I’m here to share the folklore in a nutshell and how I reimagined it for my writing in an origin of the fae.
This is the Faeries and Folklore podcast.
Hi, I’m your host Ronel Janse van Vuuren. You can just call me Ronel. In today’s episode, we’re continuing our exploration of the fae realm.
This episode is brought to you by my Dark Court Sisters book series. Available in ebook, paperback and audiobook. Three sisters. Three destinies. Three ways to destroy the world. Go to ronelthemythmaker.com/darkcourtsistersseries for more.
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We’re continuing our exploration of Solitary Fae.
Today’s Faery: Trolls
Folklore in a Nutshell by Ronel
There are several arguments over the meaning of the word troll. Some believe it’s interchangeable with demon and giant, while others feel there’s an overlap with jötnar (giants from Norse mythology) and hostile monsters. And then there’s the belief that it’s a catch-all word for mischievous creatures.
Of course, in the internet age, we call those creatures lurking in their parents’ basements who leave rude comments online, “trolls”.
Etymology aside, there are distinct features to true trolls.
Mostly from Nordic folklore, trolls are monstrous beings possessing magic. They are sometimes giant in comparison to humans. They usually lived in castles and haunted the surrounding areas after nightfall as sunlight turned them into stone. Most lived in hills, were human-sized and enjoyed kidnapping human maidens, and could foretell the future. These hill-dwelling trolls enjoyed night-time revels where the hills themselves were lifted on stilts to allow in fresh air – and prying human eyes.
In later tales, they dwell in isolated areas – usually mountains – and live together in small family units. They are not friendly or helpful to humans. They are usually described as being dim-witted, old, slow, but strong. Trolls are always afraid of lightning and thunder, though. This is believed to be because of Thor’s role in fighting them – or versions of them – through the centuries.
Many fairy tales have trolls living beneath bridges, expecting a toll of some kind to be paid to cross the bridge. This toll can be in the form of labour or in answering a riddle. This theme is found in many older tales and modern stories alike.
But trolls aren’t merely figments of the imagination. In 1276, King Magnus Haakonsson made it illegal to attempt to awaken the “mound-dwellers” or, rather, trolls.
There’s even a Troll Museum in Norway dedicated to trolls and fairy tales with the aim to bring people closer to the magic of Norwegian folklore.
Whatever you think of trolls, they can’t be that stupid if they can get others to do things for them, foresee the future, use magic, change their shape at will, challenge the skald Bragi Boddason with a riddle describing their attributes, and even get themselves written into human law. Not to mention their popularity in tales across the ages. Maybe they appear exactly the way humans expect them to, just to be left in peace.
And now for my interpretation of the fae in an Origin of the Fae: Trolls
Trolls are made up of various minerals – and depending on exactly what, they can turn to stone or into glass, by either the sun or the full moon. Trolls live in the mountains, usually in a cave system of some sort. Not all live in family groupings, as their society is as complex as that of humans. They don’t kidnap mortals or fae, keeping to themselves. They have a cultural feud with dwarfs, as these creatures are always digging and creating cave-ins.
Trolls are strong magic-users, but even among them there are those who excel. They can turn themselves invisible, change their shape, foresee the future, and give good advice.
As a little bonus, let’s look at this faery translated to Afrikaans: Trol/Trolle
I hope that you’ve enjoyed this episode of the faeries and folklore podcast and that you’ve learned something new about faeries.
Remember that you can get a transcript of this episode in the description. If you’re new to the podcast, why not go and grab your free copy of Unseen, the second book in the Faery Tales series, on my website ronelthemythmaker.com? Loads of folklore, magic and danger await! Take care!
You can now support my time in producing the podcast (researching, writing and everything else involved) by buying me a coffee. This can be a once-off thing, or you can buy me coffee again in the future at your discretion.
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No-one writes about the fae like Ronel Janse van Vuuren.