politics of asgard

In the second film, the audience is given a chance to compare this account to a different one, one read by Odin from a book about the events of his father’s time due to their immediate relevence. (Due to the film’s incoherent structure, it is unclear whether the prologue is part of this history or not, but I will include his narration, though not the visual accompaniment.) In this scene, he relates his father’s conquest of the omnicidal dark elves to his adult son and the woman who currently has the elves’ superweapon inside her life force. What he is saying is not actually what appears on the page; while the book’s shape indicates a similar history to that [LECTURER] mentioned on Earth, of the shape being that you get when you make parchment of animal skin, this is fairly obviously a magical book that he is interacting with rather than reading.

Some interesting things emerge. Again, it is history as narrative, both on the page and in his words. Again, in both cases, it is clearly biased towards the Asgardian point of view. The version on the page, in fact, revisits Asgard as the shining beacon; thinly disguised in badly-transliterated futhark are the words, ‘the light that radiated from Asgard.’

There is no way to assess the truth of his story, given that almost all of the dark elf backstory comes through his point of view, and the similarities of the story to that of the first film imply that there are probably some narrative conventions being used. Several phrases of the opening narration echo the Thor lesson precisely, for example, and there is again the spectre of the just war looming as the enemy poses a terrible threat to one world or all. As a result, unknown are both the intentions of the Jotuns in attacking Midgard, and the reality of the dark elves’ threat. Each is simply a vanquished threat, rightfully crushed in the service of peace.

In both cases, Asgard intervened as a protector, a superior force with a right to act unilaterally and decisively. Their innate nobility and valiance – an interesting parallel to the spell placed upon Thor’s hammer, ‘whosoever holds of this hammer, if he be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor’ – and the righteousness of their cause ensured their victory, even at a cost. The enemy lacks logic to their actions, and are driven by a desire to spread war and destruction across the Nine Realms or universe.

In all Asgardian accounts, other peoples are not accorded equality. In the Thor: The Dark World prologue, the ‘creatures’ [dark elves] are contrasted with ‘the noble armies of Asgard.’ Later in this film, the Queen of Asgard terms a dark elf, ‘creature,’ echoing this and the words of two Asgardian warriors attempting to contain a prison break, and in Thor the Jotuns/frost giants are persistently referred to as monsters, as Loki refers to another dark elf. Midgardians are consistently seen as helpless, childlike, simple and in need of protection.

Asgard’s discipline of history, then, at least that which is consulted at the highest levels of governance, bears the marks of an elitist, martial culture. Historical recording is narrative and appears troped, and Asgard in all cases occupies the same role; that of the noble bringer of light. (It should, however, be mentioned that it is probable that such a casting could be meant to impress children and offworlders in both cases; this itself says something, since both situations could have benefitted from accurate information.) Unlike on Earth, where various social movements and academic trends have been causing disciplinary cross-pollination and wider focus on more issues in history, top-level Asgardian history focuses on its kings’ exploits in war in a way that has more in common with the heroic saga than the modern Earthly historical work.

(My dryer died yesterday afternoon, so I’ve been debating opening quick and simple portrait commissions. I needed to draw and time myself to see if it was something worth doing. shameless link to my commission sheet)

I picked Njord for the exercise because he’s rarely talked about, and when he is it’s even rarer in terms of discussing his role as a god of the downtrodden. The Aesir and Vanir went to war several times. In the final war, the Vanir suffered a painful loss. Njord, the King of the Vanir, became a political prisoner of Asgard. He lost almost everything, only having some semblance of freedom for six months of every year. Yes, Njord is a god of prosperity and good fortunes, but I think even beyond that, he’s a god for getting back up when there’s nothing left to lose. In the Asgard portrait, his hair is cropped short because it was common practice in the Viking age to sheer the hair of slaves, servants, and the disgraced.

AU where after Ultron is created and wreaking destruction on Earth, Thor whisks Jane and Darcy to Asgard despite his father’s disapproval. Cue Jane trying to figure out the science of Asgard while trying to figure out a way to help Thor and the Avengers with one of her SCIENCE things. And cue Darcy walking the political minefield of Asgard and sensing that something isn’t right with the King. Cue Darcy trying to keep Jane away from Odin.

I haven’t figured out precisely how (or, more accurately, where) I’m going to do my “I can totally do 1,000 recs over the course of the next year!” project, but I am definitely planning on using it to motivate me into sitting down with all that amazing fic that’s piling up on my reader. And, hell, this list alone is full of FEELS AND PORN which are my favorite things and I want to force myself to find time for them on a regular basis again!

THOR/LOKI RECS:
untitled by karuvapatta [ mobile ver. ], thor/loki,NSFW, pre-movies, 2.1k
    Ah, yes. I believe “awkward blow job in a cave” is all the title, summary and warning you need. Thorki, 2,2k, NSFW.
With Brother Like This, Enemies Are Redundant by karuvapatta [ mobile ver. ], thor/loki, mildly nsfw, 1.8k
    Anonymous asked: I wish you would write a fic where…loki could be a little shit (like he is!!) , but wont let anybody but him, treat his brother like he does. also he has a weakness for thor and angry sex :D
Heat by fatcatwrites, thor/loki, NSFW, werewolf!thor + werewolf!loki, 1.6k
    A fic of in heat werewolves Thor and Loki meeting for the first time.
flow by lokisbubblebutt, thor/loki, NSFW, watersports, mild embarassment, 2.3k
    Loki shifts, trying to wake himself up enough to make sense of his surroundings, and feels his bladder twinge uncomfortably in protest. So that’s what woke him.

THOR & LOKI RECS:
Hold Me Close (But Not *That* Close, What Is Wrong With You) by karuvapatta [ mobile ver. ], thor & loki, pre-movies, ~1k
    They are boys, still. Loki tells himself that, when he lies trembling in his large bed with the covers pulled tight over his head.
untitled by pro-antagonist [ mobile ver. ], loki & sif, suicide ideation, 1.8k
    Loki and Sif (Gen). Loki struggles with suicidal thoughts.
Appetite and Need by Mythtaken Identity (Shadowland), agent!loki & verity willis, 1.4k
    Tricksters are all appetite and unrelenting need.
The Lullaby Singer by TheOtherOdinson, odin & loki & other asgardians, divergent timeline, 27.4k wip
    Odin hasn’t left Asgard in over a thousand years. When he finds out Loki is still alive and preparing to launch an attack on Midgard, he could send Thor to stop him. Or Odin could go himself.
Now and Forever by TheOtherOdinson, thor & loki, pre-movies, 1.7k
    After a night of heavy drinking, Thor is feeling chatty. Loki would like for them to make it home without falling on their faces.
Bait and Switch by Mikkeneko, thor & loki, pre-movies, nsfw for violence/torture, 10.9k
    When political enemies of Asgard capture Thor, they think they can use Loki as leverage against Thor. This doesn’t turn out well. For anyone.
In Sickness And In Health by karuvapatta [ mobile ver. ], thor & loki, sick!loki, 1.4k
    Loki gets the flu.
Peace on Earth, Good Will to Men by ariadne_bee, 616!thor & agent!loki & verity willis, 5.9k
    Thor needs a place to stay, and Loki has a couch. Also featuring Chinese food, boys playing Xbox, Christmas decorations in New York, snow flurries, family, friendship, flirting, and people swearing they’re not flirting.
Of Ends and Beginnings by Rynfinity, thor & loki, 1.6k
    The sun beats down, and the streets are alive with people. There is indeed the smallest hint of the Realm Eternal here, in the bright skies and sweeping vantage point. What Thor cannot help but notice almost immediately, though, is how very much the place reminds him of mother.

full details + recs under the cut!

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Darcy Lewis still studies political science when not helping save the world. She’s about to write her doctoral thesis on the surprisingly complex political structure of Asgard as a 10,000+ year old monarchy. She was going to write about the effects of the political fallout from S.H.I.E.L.D.’s collapse but she can’t make a neutral argument because she’s still mad about her iPod which she never got back.

I have speculated before that the upper elite, that is those who were on the steps during the coronation, are a landed elite, which would tend to imply semi-independent power. However, all indications point to them being used as commanders of royal forces rather than their own, and I am very interested in this rhetoric of ‘your warriors,’ 'his warriors,’ and so on that is being used repeatedly at the moment.

These things are not necessarily incompatible, though.

I do not think Asgard has always been unified, though the unification date has been pushed back to Bor’s early reign or the inferred reign of Buri. Since they like their monarchy, this probably means there were a load of smaller kings with regional power. Even after unification, these people would probably retain a high level of regional power, perhaps capable of withstanding the Allfather.

One possible solution to this is to change the regional leadership and install people loyal to the king first as the local, landed power - though this is very tricky to bring about - people who owe their position to him and who owe him service in return, while making these appointments non-hereditary or conditionally hereditary. Given Asgard’s social climate, such people would probably have to be recruited from the warrior class and thus are probably of distinguished warrior families of the king’s service.

It’s a possibility, anyway.