The World of Voima

The term "voima" is from the Finnish, meaning "power." In Voima I use the word instead of the more common "magic," to mean force, life, strength, and supernatural ability. The story itself is supposed to be the kind that Scandinavian authors might be writing today if the saga tradition had continued, combining elements from both Norse sagas and the Finnish Kalevala. (The two are actually very different traditions, but from the perspective of America at the beginning of the twenty-first century they look rather similar.) There are also motifs borrowed from such medieval epics as Beowulf and the Nibelungenlied. The setting is based directly on medieval Scandinavia.

The plot revolves around three young mortals who end up drawn into the struggles between the immortals. Karin is a princess who is held hostage at a foreign court; Valmar is son of the king who holds her hostage; and Roric No-man's son is a warrior at the court who seeks to know his father's true identity--and loves Karin, even though she is far too high-born for a fatherless man. The three have always assumed that earth and sky are ruled by the Wanderers, the immortal lords of voima, but an end is fated for even the immortals, an end they are desperately trying to avoid, because the passing of their power may also mean the earth's destruction.

The quarrels into which the mortals are drawn quickly involve the conflicts between the sexes, between the generations, and between the demands of love and honor. Here I have adopted the motif, common in medieval literature, of putting characters into situations in which they are pulled in opposite directions, with no obvious answers--in fact, with the clear implication that there is no single "right" side. On the other hand, most medieval epics with this story structure (from The Song of Roland to the Nibelungenlied) end up with the stage littered with the dead bodies of all the principals, which I do try to avoid in my own stories.

Having explored some version of medieval Christianity in the Yurt series, here I tried to create a consistent pagan universe, where there are plenty of god-like beings but no single God. There is no heaven, only a Hel where everyone, good or bad, ends up eventually. An emergent theme is whether, even in this context, mortality might be necessary, even desirable.

The astute reader might try to work out who Roric's father actually is. The clues are all there, even though I prefer not to make too explicit to the reader something which is never fully appreciated by all the characters. On the cover, I think Roric is on the left, holding the torch, and Valmar is on the far right, in the shadowy realms of voima, but the exotic lady down below is most certainly not Karin. She may be intended to be one of the powerful ladies of voima in the story, but my own theory is that she is the Ifrit's wife from Mage Quest, irritated that she did not appear on that book's cover.

(Note: As of January 1998, Voima is out of print. However, copies may be available through some specialty SF stores, and used book stores may have copies. On-line bookstores may be able to locate a copy for you as well.)