Novel Playlists from Fantasy Novelists treats each fantasy novel like a feature film and encourages the author to put together their own dream soundtrack. Offering a playlist as vast and stark as the lands he draws inspiration from, Scott Oden shares his latest historical fantasy novel A Gathering of Ravens:
To the Danes, he is skraelingr; to the English, he is orcneas; to the Irish, he is fomoraig. He is Corpse-maker and Life-quencher, the Bringer of Night, the Son of the Wolf and Brother of the Serpent. He is Grimnir, and he is the last of his kind--the last in a long line of monsters who have plagued humanity since the Elder Days. Drawn from his lair by a thirst for vengeance against the Dane who slew his brother, Grimnir emerges into a world that's changed. A new faith has arisen. The Old Ways are dying, and their followers retreating into the shadows; even still, Grimnir's vengeance cannot be denied.
Clanadonia -- The Egyptian Clanadonia is a bands of Scotsmen who play a fierce drum and bagpipes tune; this particular song instills in me a deep sense of hiraeth -- that bone-deep longing for the world of the past.
Eivør -- Trøllabundin This one served to draw me in to the cold world of the Danes and the Norse: a chanted tale of a woman and a troll, simple and brutal and evocative of a cave by the side of an autumnal road…
Song of the Exile from "King Arthur" (2004) -- IntoBattleWeGo A Gathering of Ravens' main character, Grimnir, is a creature steeped in the same sense of melancholy displayed in this song. Time has severed him from his home -- he is the last of his kind, and The Song of the Exile captures that emotion perfectly for me.
The Gael -- The Best of Celtic Music Fans of the movie "The Last of the Mohicans" will be ever-so-familiar with this mournful tune. It encapsulates, for me, the sense of wanderlust that drove the Celts across Europe and into the heart of Ireland.
Za Frûmi -- Tach (2001) Not a "track", per se, but rather a whole album. Za Frûmi is dark ambient performance art with Orcs; their lyrics are in Tolkien's Black Speech, and there's a story behind the music -- a tale of an Orc band fighting a war against their cruel vampire overlords.
Wardruna -- Runaljod -- Yggdrasil This band is more "viking" to me than any heavy metal "hair-and-horns" band. Heavy beats with lyrics in their native Norwegian, they capture the fierce spirit of the North.
Conan the Barbarian OST -- Basil Poledouris This is the definitive music of fantasy since my early youth: by turns lyrical and bloody, brooding and alive, reflective and devil-may-care. This remains my go-to music when there's a battle scene to write. By Crom, how can you hear "Riders of Doom" and not feel the urge to draw steel and wade into the fray?
Íslandsklukkur (Instrumental Icelandic Folk Music) When possible, I prefer instrumental writing music -- preferably traditional to the region I'm writing about since most of my work mixes history and fantasy. This set gave a good mental picture of Iceland's folk traditions. I could see the snow-covered mountains and the deep, cold rivers.
Among The Ruins - Kammarheit I love dark ambient music, especially to write by. It evokes the kind of mindset I'm trying to capture in my characters: a sense of doom, but with a fragment of hope lodged in it -- just enough to add steel to their spines and make them fight that much harder.
Dark Ages - Twilight of Europe (Full Album) These compilation albums on Youtube are a writer's godsend: types of music grouped around a theme. In this case, the Dark Ages. And it is as you'd expect: doom-laden, fraught with imperiled faith, with the world's end never more than a heartbeat away.
Centurion OST [FULL] The movie "Centurion" was the closest thing we've ever had to a true Robert E. Howard movie experience. You could readily imagine Bran Mak Morn, fighting the fierce Romans for possession of the land. This soundtrack helped immensely to get me into the headspace I needed to write about Dark Ages Britain.
13th Warrior Soundtrack -- Jerry Goldsmith Who can write about the Viking Age and not fill their head with this harsh and doom-laden score? Like Poledouris, Goldsmith's 13th Warrior OST is the definitive pop Viking experience -- and like most "movie" music, it's designed for dramatic moments: writing to it enhances the weight of a scene.
Herr Mannelig -- Garmarna The pulsing drums and deep feminine voice evoke the traditions of female sorcerers, wise-women who read the runes and wove the skeins of Fate. This was the tune I'd go to when searching for the voice of Etain, my female protagonist.
Got your own playlist for your own novel? Then sign up to share it.