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Character Connection: The Morrigan

Thursday, October 20, 2011

I have something a little different this week.

I've come across references to The Morrigan in three very different books, so I wanted to take a look at the "traditional" Morrigan and the way that these three authors chose to portray her (or them, as the case may be).

So, let's start with the Morrigan as depicted in Irish mythology, according to Wikipedia (I know. But you work with what you have easy access to).

"The Morrigan is a goddess of battle, strife, and fertility....She is generally considered a war deity comparable with the Germanic Valkyries, although her association with cattle also suggests a role connected with fertility, wealth, and the land....The Morrigan is often considered a triple goddess, but her supposed triple nature is ambiguous and inconsistent."

Christopher Moore stayed closest to this traditional figure in A Dirty Job. He has three "sewer harpies," as the main character calls them, pursuing Death Merchants (the good guys) through the storm drains of San Francisco. He even gives them three of the traditional names, Babd, Nemain, and Macha. In Moore's novel, the Morrigan have diminished in power and they are feeding upon souls to return "Above." One character researches them and comes up with this: "The Morrigan consists of three distinct entities: Macha, who haunts the battlefield, and takes heads of warriors as tribute in battle--she is said to be able to heal a warrior from mortal wounds in the field, if his men have offered enough heads to her. The Celtic warriors called the severed heads Macha's acorns. She is considered the mother goddess of the three. Babd is rage, the passion of battle and killing--she was said to collect the seed of fallen warriors, and use its power to inspire a sexual frenzy for battle, a literal bloodlust. And Nemain, who is frenzy, was said to drive soldiers into battle with a howl so fierce that it could cause enemy soldiers to die of fright--her claws were venomous and the mere prick of one would kill a soldier, but she would fling the venom into the eyes of enemy soldiers to blind them." But they aren't terribly adept at thriving in our modern world. What with sword/canes, fireworks, firearms, cars, and exploding shrapnel, they're just not sure if raising the Darkness is worth it. Which sounds all dreadfully serious, but A Dirty Job is probably one of the funniest books I have ever read. The Morrigan themselves are even unintentionally hilarious.

I came across the Morrigan again in The Alchemyst by Michael Scott. This Morrigan is a single figure, but she is definitely a goddess of war. Look out when she unleashes her killer crows on you. And she's also loose in San Francisco. As I said in my review, "Oh, and San Francisco? Watch out for the Morrigan. She has trashed your city in two wildly different books I've read. She's coming for you." Here's how Scott describes her: "The ancient Irish had called her the Crow Goddess, and she was worshipped and feared throughout the Celtic kingdoms as the Goddess of Death and Destruction. Once there had been three sisters: Badb, Macha and the Morrigan, but the others had disappeared over the years--Dee had his own suspicions about what had happened to them--and the Morrigan now reigned supreme. She stood taller than Dee, though most people stood taller than the doctor, and was dressed from head to foot in black leather. Her jerkin was studded with shining silver bolts, giving it the appearance of a medieval breastplate, and her leather gloves had rectangular silver studs sewn onto the back of the fingers. The gloves had no fingertips, allowing the Morrigan's long, spearlike black nails to show. She wore a heavy leather belt studded with small circular shields around her waist. Draped over her shoulders, with its full hood pulled around her face and sweeping to the ground behind her, was a cloak made entirely of ravens' feathers." The Morrigan in The Alchemyst is pretty much evil. She has an agenda and let's just say that what she has planned will not be good for humanity.

And then there's The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff. I'm not entirely sure what happened to the Morrigan here. When Mackie first sees her, he narrates, "A little girl was crouched on the floor. She had on a white party dress that looked like it was made of old surgical gauze and also like it might have been on fire at some point....Her face was young and kind of shy, but her mouth was crowded with small, jagged teeth. Not a nice, respectable thirty-two, but closer to fifty or sixty." I have my own theories about what might have caused this transformation, but nothing is really explained in the book. My guess is that she loses stature as people believe in her less and less. She is the ruler of the House of Mayhem, a sort of dark fairy world beneath the town of Gentry. I was never entirely sure what to think of her. She seems mostly benevolent, or amoral at worst, but you know how those fairy-ish types are; they are never what they seem. She does have an evil sister, known only as The Lady. The Lady is evil. So I'm left wondering, if there ever is a sequel to this book, will a third sister show up? That could be interesting.

Who did you connect with this week? Link your post on Mr. Linky, then be sure to go check out the other Character Connections!

Character Connection
Who do ya love?

Or love to hate?

You know you've got a lot to say about some larger-than-life characters, and this is the place to say it. Write a straightforward post. Draw a picture. Vlog, write poetry, write fiction, cast the role, be as creative as you want!

Be sure to post the book's title and author, and be very careful not to give away spoilers while talking about how much you love your characters.

Mr. Linky will be posted here on The Introverted Reader every Thursday.


I have an affiliate relationship with Malaprop's, my local independent bookstore located in downtown Asheville, NC; and Better World Books. I will receive a small commission at no cost to you if you purchase books through links on my site.

2 comments:

  1. Hey there :) I'm a new follower and it's the first time I've seen this meme. I'm going to join in, but I'm not sure if I'll manage something for this linky. I'll definitely be back next week, though.
    I've been looking for a meme to join and I've also been wanting to write more book-related posts so this seems like a winner for me :)

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  2. I've really got to start doing this on Thursday! Loved your character connection this week - I hadn't heard of (or read) about The Morrigan before. Mine this week is related to Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children.

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Thanks for taking the time to comment! Have a great day!

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