Eleven rivers — the Élivágar — spring from Hvergelmir and flow through all the Nine Realms. They are the:
- Svol: the “cool one”
- Gunnthra: “battle groove”
- Fjorm: “the one in a hurry”
- Fimbulthul: “might speaker”
- Slídr: “dangerously sharp”; according to Snorri, this river flows thru Helheim
- Hríd: “stormy weather, tempest”
- Sylgr: “devourer”
- Ylgr: “she wolf”
- Vid: “the broad one”
- Leiptr: “lightening”
- Gjoll: “loud noise”; Snorri also puts this river in the underworld; the Gjallerbrú bridges it. That bridge is guarded by Módgudr (furious battle). According to Simek, she may be one of Snorri’s additions to the myths.
These rivers have been integral to my story since the very beginning. And just a couple days ago, I thought of a whole new twist on them that should solve a few worldbuildy issues. Note that Simek says a more accurate view/definition of Élivágar is that it is the name for the “proto-sea”that surrounds the world. They’re not necessarily incompatible definitions.
Here are a few examples of how I’ve used some of the rivers:
- Vidar rests for a time beside the Svol; this happens in Book Two
- In Book One, Odin harvests magic from the Slídr
- In Book Two, Hermod speaks with Módgudr before crossing the Gjoll — that was a neat scene to write, particularly since I have the Ships of the Dead dock at the mouth of the Gjoll. A group of the dead cross into Helheim at the same time Hermod does. I’m using that as a way to make Hermod’s journey cool, reinforce some worldbuildy stuff and show the difference between her and her father (Odin).
In Book Three, the rivers take on a more central role. But by then, a great deal of time in the narrative will have passed and my POV characters are mostly new.
*I mostly use Simek’s definitions/translations of the rivers