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by Sweyn Plowright
with art by Mark Morte
Review by Alfta Svanni Lothursdottir
“True warriorship requires the supporting culture of a True household. Without it, warriorship has little purpose. The life of warriorship revolves around the concept of Troth. This was the guiding principle which gave our ancestors a sense of direction and honour.”
The book is divided into two main sections. The first section is Sweyn's theory behind Northern Warriorship. It consists of thirteen short chapters, each going over a certain aspect of Northern Warriorship. Although the chapters are short they have quite a lot to say. There are chapters dealing with a wide variety of subjects that would concern the Northern Warrior ranging from the esoteric to the practical such as the chapter with advice on how to deal with local law authorities in such a way as to protect oneself from litigation after having had to defend oneself with force. One thing that impresses me about this book (and there were a lot of things that impressed me) is how Sweyn manages to be very practical in his advice even when dealing with matters of a more esoteric nature. Sweyn says, “The importance of reliable sources cannot be stressed enough. Our culture cannot be reclaimed without a solid foundation in fact. We must use this resource in an inspired but disciplined manner to extract the value of our inheritance. Unless we all become scholars in our own heritage, we stand to lose it to fantasy 'traditions'.” In a time when Llewellyn readily will publish any kind of drivel that people like D. J. Conway and Ed Fitch spew forth, but will turn their noses up at anything that has any what-so-ever real Heathen value, it is a pleasure to see this book get into print. It is a wonderful work of what I call “informed innovation.” That means it is written by someone who is obviously well grounded in the lore and who has made it part of his inner being. From that strong grounding in our lore Sweyn has brought forth a very innovative book that, in my mind, is squarely in the Heathen tradition. We need more of such books.
The second part is, in the grand tradition of the Skald, a retelling of the Lay of Volund the Smith, who is more popularly known as Weyland. In this part of the book, Unfrith the Skald tells us a story of revenge that is so artful as to be called a masterpiece. In the old days of our ancestors a Skald would teach and entertain at the same time. In his stories there was not only told riveting tales of adventure but the ways a man of honor was expected to act were presented there in those very stories. The Skald not only entertained with his stories but he taught with them as well. In his stories the young ones would see what an honorable man and woman acted like and what a man or woman who was not honorable would act. They would see in those stories how they would be expected to act. Sweyn follows in this great tradition by using the Story of Weyland to illustrate the ideas he has set down in the first part of the book. Another plus in this section of the book is the art work of Sydney artist and musician Mark Morte whose art illustrates this story of a Masterpiece in Revenge. Each of the 13 chapters begins with one of Mark's excellent line drawings.
Rarely, if ever, have a read a book and been in so much agreement with the author. Although this book is about Northern Warriorship it is a book that every Heathen, no matter who they be or what they are, should read. Some of us may never be warriors but every Heathen can live his or her life by the guidelines in this book. Every Heathen can live by the philosophy of the Northern Warrior and have a better life for it.
You can find information on how to purchase True Helm and read excerpts at
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