A beautifully told story with colorful characters out of epic tradition, a tight and complex plot, and solid pacing. -- Booklist, starred review of On the Razor's Edge

Great writing, vivid scenarios, and thoughtful commentary ... the stories will linger after the last page is turned. -- Publisher's Weekly, on Captive Dreams

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Elfs Unite!

Selfoss, Iceland, elf door sign
In Iceland, construction must deal not only with the habitats of this or that species, but also with the habitats of elves or huldufólk.

You read that right: elves.  If you disturb the elves, bad luck will befall you; and folks will be glad to re-tell stories of the bad luck they had after moving an elfstone.
Huddled together amid the jagged rocks of the Gálgahraun lava field, a group of nervous onlookers wait with bated breath. Suddenly, there’s a loud crack and a tumble of stones as a 50-tonne boulder is wrenched from the ground, then slowly raised into the air and eased down nearby, so delicately you’d think it was a priceless sculpture. “I just hope they’re happy in their new home,” says Ragnhildur Jónsdóttir. “The elves really don’t like being uprooted like this.”
The rock, known as Ófeigskirkja, has been at the centre of an eight-year battle to stop a road being built
Couldn't possibly be confirmation bias, right? Iceland is apparently chock full of álagablettir, or enchanted spots of one sort or another. (And it's interesting how many elf activists have -dóttir names while the road-builders have -son names.)
For the huge Kárahnjúkastífla dam project in the east, consultants with clairvoyant skills were hired to check out the landscape first to ensure it was empty of elvish rocks. There’s now money to be made in this sort of consultancy work.
There is usually money to be made, no matter what the hoo-hoo is. The secondary link is more pedestrian and is focused on protesting the "capitalists" who insisted on shoving a road through a pristine lava field. (How a community planned by a government is "capitalist" is left as an exercise for the reader. Perhaps the word only means "people I disagree with.")

Now, the Wee Folk of Ireland.... That's a different story.

1 comment:

  1. Yeah, your Irish correspondent could tell you about all the road trouble in Ireland and Scotland caused by fairy trees, bile, and so forth. Also hills, although that's usually covered by archaeology thingies for hillforts, just like old tombs and neolithic rock arrangements and earthworks. I don't think it's usually rocks, though I think there was one bit of trouble with a craggy bit that the roadworkers wanted to blast out, but which had historical and fey associations.

    But hiring clairvoyants for "finding" elf rocks, as opposed to the locals just having folkloric information? That's a bit weird.


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