Elves might be a popular myth that most everyone’s probably heard of. Especially with the recent Lord Of The Rings craze. I mean, Orlando Bloom as Legolas? I’m sure you’ve seen a poster… But do you know where the legends come from?
Almost all the original myths come from Norse stories, did you know? They’re supposed to be similar to Demi-gods, or the offspring of a god parent and a human parent. Linked to the Norse gods of beauty and sunlight, elves are extremely beautiful creatures.
As time progressed, elvish legend seems to split them into categories. Light elves and dark elves for good verses evil. High elves would be the beautiful ones that ruled over the rest.
Seems the legends can’t decide on exactly how elves feel about humans, but they’re generally portrayed as lofty and somewhat above their human counterparts. Many legends give elves extraordinary healing powers which they can use on humans as well. Sometimes, they were offered sacrifices in exchange for their magical healing.
They can also mate, birthing half-human-half-elf offspring that look human but have the gift of magic. So not all elves thought humans were completely useless.
Somehow, elves survived the Middle Ages with their glory intact. Yet somewhere between then and now, elves have become synonymous with tiny creatures that make toys for good boys and girls. If you do a google search on “elf” you’re most likely to get the comedy Christmas movie Elf staring Will Ferrell.
Writing Your Elf Hero
How such majestic creatures were shifted into Santa’s helpers is a mystery lost to time itself. But it does leave for some personal interpretation of the legends. My caution with using an elf in your story would be to either stick close to the popular legends where your readers know what to expect, or deviate completely with good enough descriptions to guide your reader in your direction. Don’t leave them floundering in the stereotypes unless you want them there!