As some of you may know, I’ve recently discovered the little treasure that is Patricia Briggs. As I delve further into the series though, there was a term that I just couldn’t wrap my head around. That term was the ‘Marrok.’ Well, I could put two and two together in regards to the Mercy Thompson novels. The Marrok was simply a term given to Charles’ father, Bran, who is head of all the North American werewolf tribes. But still, I had never heard this term before. Was it simply a word that Briggs had made up to suit the purpose of her novels? Or had it been used before, and have an actual meaning? Not one to be satisfied until I had a concrete answer, I went to my research.
The Marrok actually originated with the story of King Arthur. In this story, there was a werewolf known as Sir Marrok, who had been turned into a werewolf by his wife. And, remaining in werewolf form was also due to his wife. This was because in Arthurian legend, a werewolf was required to remove all of their clothing before making their big transformation. However, they would not be able to return to their human form unless they had their clothing back. They wouldn’t be able to put their clothing back on while still in were form, of course. But they did have to be standing relatively close to the clothing and the clothing still had to be in somewhat good condition.
Sir Marrok’s simple job of finding his clothes and changing back to human form was made a bit more difficult by his wife. She hid his clothes for seven years, forcing him to remain a werewolf for that long. Not having your clothes to change back to a human was one of the worst fates that could befall an Arthurian werewolf. However, avoiding the change couldn’t be done simply by not getting undressed. The Arthurian werewolves were just like other werewolves in that they felt a compulsion to change and would be obsessed with it until the change actually took place. These werewolves however, could make Will rolls that would delay the change, but it wouldn’t stop it from happening altogether.
And even though this aspect of Arthurian werewolves is somewhat in keeping with what we know of werewolves today, these werewolves did not have any super powers or super strengths. A silver bullet would probably harm them, as would any other bullet. In fact, a weapon of any sort would cause damage to an Arthurian werewolf. They were in fact, just wolves. Well, wolves that could go from being human to wolf and back again.
So there ya have it. Now I am happy knowing where Patricia Briggs came up with the term ‘Marrok.’ And I learned a little bit more about the story of King Arthur. I hope you did too!