Race Spotlight: The Jotun, Echoes of the Past

Sorry for my absence lately, I had my birthday recently and decided to take a week off to really delve into gaming. Also, please note that this post contains minor spoilers concerning the norn personal story as well as Arah explorable. 

“Behold. At the height of our power, arrogance and jealousy led the jotun to civil war. Our blood is the blood of the mountains. In it, there is power. And so we fought…over blood itself. The giant-kings turned on each other. Brother murdered brother. Son murdered father. What we did not realize is that with each death, we weakend the very blood we sought to claim.”

– Elder Thruln

Elder Thruln, Giant King of the jotun.

Elder Thruln, Giant King of the jotun.

The jotun are the last remnants of an ancient civilisation of giants. They were once a powerful, advanced and arrogant race who declared themselves the rulers of the Shiverpeak Mountains during the Age of Giants. It was during this age that they rose great monuments to themselves on the mountains peaks; great towers containing magics and lore. They were once peaceful and wise and were the protectors and guardians of all races lesser than them.

Being one of the elder races their age is unknown. They fought the dragons during their last rise and were saved by being stowed away by Glint.  Having survived the previous rise of the Elder Dragons, and foretelling their coming through the mystic telescope, we only know that they are very old and can possibly date back to before the records of the first rising on Tyria.

The jotun are mentioned to be linked with the ogres genetically; how and why this is, or what role the ogres played in jotun history and through the Age of Giants is still unknown. That is if they even had a role at all… According to the Durmand Priory, as seen by the recovered jotun relics, the jotun were once an attractive race. They soon fell into disfigurement and ugliness throughout the fall of their civilisation, when inbreeding plagued their society.

Jotun concept art.

Jotun concept art.

The jotun of old had no religion. They believe in themselves and their ancestors. Their blood was the most precious thing; in their blood was power, magic. It was what brought them divine powers, it’s what made them close to gods. Although the jotun of old had ties with the human gods of Tyria, who granted them magic and knowledge, they never worshipped them. Their society was led by their Giant-Kings, as well as their lore keepers, sages and mystics. The jotun leaders were powerful due to their feats of strength, magic, and lore. They were adepts in sorcery and natural philosophy.

We already covered what was the Age of Giants; a time where the giants races of Tyria ruled the world, and among them the jotun and the norn ruled the Shiverpeak Mountains. Through this we also saw a possible reason for their decline: when the gods stole magic from the jotuns. However, there is another story that is told of their decline, a story of a brutal blood feud sprung from pride and arrogance.

Thruln the Lost tell us the story of the jotun, who having had their magic stolen, lost everything, and in their confusion, lost their great civilisation. Now there is a second jotun who tells a story of their demise, Elder Thruln. Elder Thruln was once a Giant King of the jotun. Now as we can see, the two Thrulns share a name: this can either indicate that Thruln could be a title given to jotuns, implicating they are some type of lore master or story keeper of the jotun, or it could hold significance in lineage meaning that Elder Thruln and Thruln the Lost descend from their ancestor Thruln. It could simply be a name.

Elder Thruln as well as the Durmand Priory believe that the jotun, having become corrupted by pride and greed, sought to make their tribes superior. Through civil wars amongst the various tribes, as well as never marrying outside, their civilisation began to decline.

The jotun, once great and powerful, are now fragments of what they once were.

The jotun, once great and powerful, are now fragments of what they once were.

It goes as follows.

When the jotuns drove all their enemies from the Shiverpeaks and there was no one else to drive back, they suddenly became obsessed with their power. In the later years of their glory, blood feuds within their civilisation arose; a civil war sprung from pride and an obsession with continuing their superiority through their purity of blood. They wanted the lineage of their heroes, warlords and Giant Kings to grow stronger.

The civil war created rifts within jotun society having influenced marriages which soon led to inbreeding. They began to wipe out the “lesser” jotuns to acquire more territory, dismantling those tribes. It wasn’t soon after that that the Giant Kings turned against each other and began to fight for ultimate control.It was at this time where their great civilisation fell.

They became but echoes of the past.

Jotun concept art for Eye of the North.

Jotun concept art for Eye of the North.

Elder Thruln and Thruln the Lost both tell stories that can be very plausible. Perhaps even both events played a role in the demise of the jotun civilisation. One thing is for certain; with the exodus of the gods the Jotun regained their magical abilities, but due to their own arrogance and pride, they lost their lore keepers, sages and mystics. With them they lost the knowledge of magic they once held now secrets buried deep in the abyss.

The jotun we come across now are fragments of a once amazing race. They are merely savages striving to preserve only themselves. They are divided into tribes based on relation or alliances, holding strength and narcissism above all else. Their feuds followed along with their demise and they continue their attempts to extinguish lesser races, as well as their opposing clans.

Giant Kings are no longer. Their tribes are now lead by the strongest of the jotun. At the first sign of weakness their leader will be overthrown by another jotun claiming to have the strength to succeed where the later has fallen. They are very savage about their hierarchy and do not think about the consequences before they commit to action, very much unlike the charr. Their abilities in brute force and arms are reassuring to their tribe that they are fit to lead.

The jotun are now very territorial. The jotun woman and children are the most prized possessions of their society; they are the key to strong lineage and the continuation of their tribe. They are never seen and always hidden in an effort to preserve their safety. Because of this, anyone who comes across jotun territory will be met with only violence.

The males are the proactive ones in society: hunting food to bring to their child-bearers  and children, hunting the lesser races that they come across as well as opposing tribes who infringe on their territory. Any attempts at peace with them is futile: they lie as well as break treaties and oaths if it will not empower them. For them to hold true to their word they must have a clear benefit in the long term.

A jotun depiction, found in the story of Mr Sparkles, a tale of the asura.

A jotun depiction, found in the story of Mr Sparkles, a tale of the asura.

The jotun of this age have no true religion. They take the legends of their past to a religious level and worship their ancient heroes and ancestors. Some choose to simply worship themselves. They hold deep reverence for their ancestral homelands and ruins in which they live, adding to their territorial nature. Some jotun worship the elder dragon Jormag believing he will grant them the power to reclaim what they once were.

When coming across a jotun I can’t help but feel bad. They once held amazing power, and it’s sad to see what they’ve become. They are a true testament to what happens when we don’t resolve our internal conflicts. Throughout Guild Wars 2, I wouldn’t doubt seeing more revealed on this race, especially through the history of the norn. Their magics and great buildings will continue to play a major role throughout Guild Wars, and it’s exciting to think of the possibilites in their secrets that lay lost through the Shiverpeaks.

The far north awaits.

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