It is no secret that a lot of the World of Warcraft expansion Wrath of the Lich King draws inspiration from the old Norse Mythology and the Vikings. In fact, there is a whole zone steeped in it. But how much real mythology do you know?
The old Norse religion and culture is seen by some to be barbaric and only about invading and pillaging but, in reality, it was a highly superstitious and honorable culture with a focus on equality, survival and family.
King Ymiron and Utgarde
Norse reference: Ymir and Utgard
Utgarde Keep is in Howling Fjord, one of 2 beginning zones in Northrend (the other being Borean Tundra). It is on the shores of Lake Cauldros and is home to many of the vrykul who are led by King Ymiron. Having proven himself to the Lich King, he is now undead and resides at the top of Utgarde Pinnacle.
Ymir was the first creation to come into being in the Norse creation myth. He was born when the fire met the ice. From Ymir, the Giants came into existence which, in turn, produced the Gods (such as Odin).
Utgard, on the other hand, was a stronghold situated inside the Ice Giants home of Jotunheim.
Norse reference: Jötnar
The Ice Giants of Storm Peaks belong to the faction in known as the Sons of Hodir. They live at Dunn Niffelem, and they are lead by King Jokkum. The Ice Giants were once wrongly blamed for the death of Thorim's wife but his brother Loken. As players work through the quests in Storm Peaks they reforge Thorim's armor and weapon to go and deal with the real killer.
The Jötnar (or Jotunn) are the giants of Norse mythology. The ice giants live in Jötunheimr and are descended from the primordial god Ymir. Loki is strongly associated with the Jötnar and is said to be one of them.
Norse reference: Niflheim and possible confusion with Jotunheim
Dun Niffelem is the stronghold of the Sons of Hodir and is situated in the eastern areas of the foothills in Storm Peak. It is one of the main quest hubs in the zone and the location of the quest master who sells the shoulder enchants for the Wrath of the Lich King expansion.
Niflheim was one of the Nine Worlds and is said to have been a world of primordial ice and cold. It is said that its the gap between this world and the fire world Muspelheim that sparked creation and produced Ymir.
Given that Ice Giants populate Dunn Niffelem, some people confuse the origin with that of Jotunheim, which is the Norse home of the Ice Giants.
Norse reference: Jormangandr /Midgard Serpent
The Jormungar are massive serpentine creatures who live throughout Northrend. Their flattened bodies and the crystalline spines which run down the sides of their bodies allows them to bury deep in the hard ice and snow. It is told that the Nerubians used to use the Jormungar as workers, to carve out the long tunnels and chambers deep below the Northrend surface to create their ancient civilization.
Jormangandr was one of the sons of the God Loki and the giantess Angrboda. To spite Loki, Odin took Jormangandr away from his mother and tossed him into the great sea which encircled Midgard (one of the nine World, the world which was home to humans). He grew so big that he had to swim with his tail in his mouth. He is also called the Midgard Serpent, or World Serpent, and the legends say that if he lets go of his tail, the World will end.
Nordrassil and the other World Trees
Norse reference: Yggdrasil
In the World of Warcraft, there are 4 World Trees. The original World Tree was Nordrassil. It was planted on the top of Mount Hyjal after the War of the Ancients. It granted immortality to the Night Elves and allowed their druids to enter the Emerald Dream. During the Battle of Mount Hyjal, the power of Nordrassil was lost and therefore, the Night Elves lost their immortality. To try and regain this, Archdruid Fandral Staghelm created Teldrassil, the now home of the Night Elves (and the Night Elves in-game starting area). Vordrassil was a failed attempt at a World Tree and is located in Grizzly Hills. It is home to the corrupt furblogs and part of the Old God Yogg-Saron still sleeps under it. The fourth World Tree will be coming in the next World of Warcraft expansion Legion and it is called Shala'drassil and all we know about it is that is has been corrupted by the Emerald Nightmare.
In Norse Mythology, Yggdrasil is the Tree of Life. The Tree casts its branches over all of the Nine Worlds. It is supported by 3 roots. One in Asgard, the home of the Gods, another in Jotunheim, the land of the Giants, and the third is in Niflheim.
Skadi the Ruthless
Norse reference: Skadi
Skadi the Ruthless is one of the bosses in Utgarde Pinnacle. He is a frost vrykul and, along with his proto-drake mount Grauf, he guards an outside gauntlet near the top of Utgarde Keep.
One of the big differences between Skadi in World of Warcraft and Skadi in Norse Mythology is that Skadi is female. She is a frost giantess and the Goddess of hunting, winter and mountains.
Norse reference: Thor
Thorim is one of the titan watchers of Azeroth and guardian of Ulduar and the Terrace of Makers. He was tricked into killing the Ice Giants by his brother Loken. Loken had killed Thorim's wife, Sif, and used the ice giants as a scapegoat. When Thorim learned of Loken's betrayal, he tried to overpower him but was captured and taken into Ulduar where he, and his proto-drake Veranus, were corrupted by the Old God Yogg-Saron.
Thor is probably one of the most popular and well-known Gods in the Norse Pantheon. He is the son of Odin and is the God of Thunder. Thor's wife was also called Sif.
Norse reference: Loki
Loken was also one of the titan watchers of Azeroth but he was driven to betrayal by the dark whispers of the Old God Yogg-Saron. Loken turned on the other watchers and took control of Ulduar. It was then that he also murdered his brother's wife, Sif. He tricked Thorim into thinking it was the work of the Ice Giants but upon finding out the truth, Thorim confronted Loken but he was overcome and Loken triumphed.
Loki is another well-known name from Norse mythology. He is the God of Mischief and is the father of Jormangandr the Midgard Serpent, Fenrir the great Wolf, Hel who is the ruler of the realm of the dead, Helheim, and Sleipnir the eight-legged stallion ridden by Odin. Contrary to popular belief, however, Loki and Thor are not real brothers although they did consider each other as blood brothers.
Norse reference: The Valkyries
The Val'kyr are undead female Vrykul and are the Lich King's agents in the spirit world. Val'kyr serve as judges for vrykul combatants and decide who will be reborn. Since the fall of the Lich King, they have now joined the ranks of the Forsaken and answer to Lady Sylvanas Windrunner.
There is no doubt about it, the Valkyries were the inspiration for the Val'kyr. The Valkyries choose who dies in battle. Half of those the Valkyries choose will go and sit with Odin in Valhalla and the other half go to Freja's afterlife field Folkvangr. They are normally depicted as a warrior maiden on a horse, although they are sometimes depicted as white swans.
Norse reference: Freyja
Freya is another one of the titan watchers. She, along with Loken, was corrupted by Yogg-Saron and moved into Ulduar to the Conservatory of Life. Before the corruption, she left her avatar in Scholazar Basin to protect it from the Scourge.
Freyja is the Goddess of Love and Sex and is one of the most popular deities in Norse Mythology. She rides a chariot pulled by two big cats, is the owner of the necklace Brisingamen and rules over the afterlife field Folkvangr.