Thursday, October 27, 2011

The QQQE Creature Compendium Volume IV: Giantkind

Word up. Time for another monster post (as in: about monsters, not a long-ass diatribe).

The introduction to this series is: here.

If you're too lazy busy to check that post, I'll sum up. All week long I've been introducing you, dear readers, to monsters that you can incorporate into your fiction. I have discovered these creatures through painstakingly sleepless nights filled with research and ... okay. That's a lie. I already knew about 90% of these beasts.

Actually, today's post I knew 100% of the creatures. I only looked some up for some of the other posts.

Hill Giant: A Giant is a Giant is a Giant, I know, but Dungeons & Dragons always separated them, and I figure what not share some of those details? A Hill Giant, while certainly larger than a Troll or Ogre, it the smallest and weakest of all Giants. They are not particularly intelligent or organized, and except for somewhat rougher features, they almost exactly resemble barbaric men, albeit very large ones. Think Grawp.

Stone Giant: The Stone Giant is the Hill Giant's slightly larger and more shy cousin. Very similar to a Hill Giant, they tend to live higher up the mountain slopes, wield slightly more advanced tools, and organize their societies beyond the brutish eking out of survival that the Hill Giant partakes in.

Frost Giant: Probably obvious, Frost Giants live either on the peaks of the highest mountains, or in arctic regions. They are known for their organized societies, which rely heavily on devout religion. They wield large ice-axes, or hurl boulders at their foes.

Fire Giant: Much like Frost Giants, Fire Giants are known for being more intelligent than their Hill and Mountain dwelling cousins. They live around active volcanoes, or in caves so deep they delve into depths beneath the earth's crust.

Cloud Giant: Cloud Giant's are the most cultured of all the Giant clans. As their name suggests, they are said to live on clouds, and are next to godliness. Their skin ranges in color from milky white to sky blue. Their hair is silver, and their eyes are iridescent blue. They dress in fine clothing and wear jewelry. They also appreciate music, and most can play one or more instruments, which is all kind of silly, for a, you know ... monster, if you ask me.

Storm Giant: The Storm Giant is the largest and most powerful of all Giants. They are said to raise thrones only on the tops of peaks that are so high that men have never reached their summits. They are solitary, primal creatures, and except for the divine intervention that Cloud Giant Clerics can sometimes call upon, they are the only Giants able to wield a kind of primitive, wild magic. They can control the weather, and throw lighting bolts at will. Storm Giants are said to reach over seven meters of height, and weigh as much as five tons or more. I can't remember if the scene is Bilbo and the Dwarves crossing the Misty Mountains, or The Fellowship attempting the pass at Caradhras, but when you think of Storm Giants think of Tolkien mentioning fell voices on the wind.

Troll: Some people complained pointed out that both Trolls and Ogres could have been grouped in with the other Humanoid Monsters, and while this is true, I prefer them here, and it's my blog. Seriously though? The smallest Ogre will always be larger than the largest human, and while there are some fictional worlds in which Trolls are considered small hairy (or even leafy) creatures, my memory will always recall them as extremely large humanoids, who differ from Giants because they are never as tall, and have hard, grey hides. Etymologically the world Troll was a slur for a Jotun, a Giant of Norse mythology, but they evolved through the ages, into creatures that lived in caves and hollows (or under bridges), shunned daylight, and were more dim of wit than even Giants. Trolls are particularly difficult to kill, because they are deceptively agile, taller and stronger than they first appear, and have constitutions that rapidly regenerate health.

Ogre: If you look back in the history of the two creatures, you'll find that the origins of the Troll and the Ogre are closely related. Trolls come from Scandinavian Legends, while the etymology of the word Ogre is French, but barring that, much of their history, and the perception of the two giant humanoid beasts is similar.Ogres are sometimes portrayed with horns that curl backward and inward from their forehead, but other than that they are usually considered more closely physically related to humans than Trolls are. They are large, and strong, and thick of hide, but they are less inhuman than Trolls, according to most opinions.

Oni: If a an uneducated and uninformed Westerner (like me) was to oversimplify this monster for his readers, he might say that an Oni is simply a Japanese title for a Demonic-Ogre. That wouldn't be completely false, but it would be too simple to explain this complex creature. They are physically unique, being hideous, gigantic creatures with sharp claws, wild hair, and two long horns growing from their heads. In Japanese mythology they lie somewhere between beast and spirit, but that doesn't necessarily make them more demon than monster, because in Japan, land of Shinto and Kami, everything is a spirit. They are almost exclusively depicted wearing tiger-skin loincloths, and wielding an iron club. Hence the phrase: oni-ni-kanabō or: an Oni with an iron club, which is a Japanese idiom meaning invincible.

Cyclops: The Cyclops is Greek in origin, but his stature casts a deep and varied shadow across the tomes of history. I don't know if he invented it, but the term Cyclopean defines the mythos of a majority of H.P. Lovecraft's stories, and Lovecraft is probably the last century's greatest arcane master of the monstrous and macabre. Of course there are countless famous Cyclopses, Cyclopsae, Cyclopes(?) in Greek and Roman mythology, but in Dungeons & Dragons, and probably some fiction, they're just monsters. Basically Giants with one eye (and sometimes one horn).

Minotaur: Minotaurs are also Greek. Remember the legend of Theseus and the Cretan Labyrinth? They are said to be large, musclebound men with the head of a bull. I suppose that doesn't really make them Giants, but they didn't fit with the humanoids either. They also vary depending on the source and fantastic setting. In Dungeons & Dragons they were man-eaters. In Krynn (Dragonlance) they existed within a highly organized society, and were mostly sailors and sea-captains. In Dante's Inferno, Dante and Virgil encounter the beast among those damned for their violent natures, the "men of blood."

I'm sure there are countless other examples of large dudes in Fantasy that I have skipped, but these posts go on long enough already, don't you think? I'll be in San Diego tomorrow morning, partying like a rock star, but I promise to put the last, and I daresay best, post up anyway.

37 comments:

Miranda Hardy said...

Yeah! You mentioned one I have in my book that is currently being edited. Can you guess which one?

Bryan Russell said...

The Ents, of course.

Natalie Aguirre said...

I didn't realize all the variations of giants. Have fun in San Diego. I know you'll be meeting blogger friends. Sounds like an awesome time.

Bish Denham said...

Okay, now I feel bad that I missed this series. I least I know I can go back and read past posts. What a wonderful lot of good work you've done to put this all together, Matt.

Excellent!

Old Kitty said...

My two big sisters used to torment me by calling me "ogre" even before I knew what the word meant - I just knew it was not a nice word! LOL! Sisters - there's your monsters (my ones anyway but I love em now!)! LOL! Take care
x

DRC said...

I agree with Natalie Aguirre. I didn't realise there were so many Giant variations either. Thanks for enlightening us.

I wrote a post a while back and briefly mentioned the cyclops, stating how scientists may have discovered where their myth originated from. They believe it came after the ancient Greeks discovered the skulls of gaint mammoths and mistook the nasal cavaty for one large eye socket. It's all fascinating stuff...

Joshua said...

I suppose that would make the giant I used in the Rule of Three Blogfest a cloud giant. Interesting.

Kelly Polark said...

My first grader and I were just looking through a creepy book of monsters last night, many mentioned here!
Fun idea for posts, Matt!

Vicki Rocho said...

Holy crap, I never knew there were so many different kinds of giants.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Goliath was supposed to be a giant.

Kristen said...

Was Jack and the Beanstalk's giant was a cloud giant? Because he seemed too stupid. But he did live up there.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Thor featured frost giants. And after seeing Troll Hunter, yes, they are definitely giants!

Karen Kyle Ericson said...

Hahaha in World of Warcraft (the game) the ogres wore slight clothing sorta like a speedo- which made me want to get rid of them really fast! Oh and those blasted clubs... Lots of damage! They seemed to have a tiny brain in their big heads too; they spoke in very simple terms, and slobbered. What a great list! I think I want to write an action story from gaming : ) Thanks for doing this. I'll have to bookmark this.

Susan Roebuck said...

Love the monster post. I'd like to be a cloud giant. I'd play a harp LOL

Amanda Bonilla said...

That's a lot of giants! ;)

Michael G-G said...

And I used to think a giant was just a giant...!

Have a massively great time in San Diego.

Jessica Bell said...

Are you telling me that you wrote all these snippet about all these monsters off the top of your head? Seriously? The only one's I knew about were Troll, Ogre and Cyclops. Minotaur, I'd heard of, but had absolutely no idea they were Greek. I'm ashamed of myself ... I shoulda guessed, seeing as in Greek it's Minotaurus, and Taurus means bull.

Michael Offutt said...

I think you should do an investigative column on male porn stars set up kinda like this but comparing different types of men and the sizes of their manhoods...kinda like giants and stuff, and the benefits you would get with one as opposed to the other.

I would read that. But I'd be the only one. Well I dunno...come to think of it...I know a few ladies that may be as prurient as myself when it comes to that kind of thing. Most of the YA crowd though was manufactured in a nunnery and they still have their habits on.

Just Another Day in Paradise said...

Ah,now I get it, I should have been spending my time gaming. Then I would know my monsters. Oh well,they lived under my bed, even if I didn't know their names.

Em-Musing said...

Just love when you do the research and all I have to do is read. And Michael, tisk, tisk...it's not the size of the giant that counts, it's the way they wield their weight.

Carolyn Abiad said...

Have fun in San Diego!

D.G. Hudson said...

Have a great time in San Diego, it will definitely be a change from Georgia.

I've enjoyed these posts, so all your work and research is appreciated. Monsters have a hierarchy like everything else - someone always has to be 'king of the hill'.

Hope your Halloween weekend is lots of fun.

cherie said...

I didn't know there were so many different kinds of giants. This is a great resource. Thanks for sharing!

Shallee said...

Love these posts! Now I want to see somebody write a new YA series about giants instead of fairies. Giants are WAY cooler.

Kristen Pelfrey said...

Holy Cloud Giants, Matthew--San Diego! California! Dude!
You may be able to find some cloud giants in the boutique-y areas of La Jolla.

maine character said...

I love you write of these as if you went to school with them. "Those Cloud Giants - such a bunch of fancy pants."

Andrew Leon said...

Bah! That was hardly a complaint!
:P

I must say, though, that you left out the complete Warhammer world, which has a great mytholgy set up, and the trolls there are way cool, since they puke on their prey kind of like flies do and have acidic blood.

Sarah Ahiers (Falen) said...

in relation to giants - have you seen Trollhunter? Cuz it's great.
AND, have you played Shadow of the Colossus? Possibly one of the best games ever.

Orang3 said...

I don't know about the game itself so much but I enjoy the art as an artist myself. Keep it up!

LTM said...

Minotaur, Hercules! I've not been too lazy... I've been too busy reading about Warrior Monks. :D

Heaven. said...

Minotaur are so cool.

Angela Brown said...

So cool. You mentioned Oni. I've been doing some reading on them because I'm working on something with Japanese mythology.

Johanna Garth said...

I kinda wish your list had included the little known Cookie Giant, who delivers cookies to hungry writers. I also wish he was outside my house right now.

Jemi Fraser said...

All kinds of giants! Jack Prelutsky writes all kinds of great poetry about these monsters - I'll be reading them to my kids tomorrow and Monday at school! :)

mshatch said...

I have a Hill Giant in my story; her name is Jurma and she raises hellhounds :)

can't wait for tomorrow's post!

Jamie (Mithril Wisdom) said...

Giants is something that I'm not too familiar with, so thanks for the list to bring me up to speed.

Fun fact: I once convinced a housemate at university that trolls were real, and never told him otherwise, hehe.

Rusty Webb said...

This is generally the kind of monster that always gave me the creeps as a kid. Probably because they're like bullies - but bigger.