Shiverpeaks Archaeology and the Jotun

The jotun giant-kings once strode the Shiverpeaks like colossi. Now they are merely colossal savages.

A reader would be forgiven for missing the significance of the ArenaNet’s recent blog on the jotun. After all, ironic as it is, their spotlight was somewhat overshadowed by the bigger news of Guild Wars 2‘s impending release and beta events. However, of all the racial blogs, the newest is perhaps the biggest, if you’ll excuse the expression, in terms of its impact in the greater context of Tyrian history.

We’d known from previous hints that the jotun were the remnants of a now-fallen civilisation, but we didn’t know when, where, what that civilisation was built off, or how that civilisation fell. We still don’t really know when (although there are indications that their peak was in the last few millenia rather than ages ago), we now have answers to the rest.

Once, the jotun were ruled by powerful giant-kings strong both in the martial arts of war and in magical traditions that might have predated the teaching of magic to Tyria’s less advanced races by the Six Gods. Through this military and mystical might, the jotun came to dominate the Shiverpeaks… but ruling all they surveyed as a race was not enough to satisfy their belligerence. Believing themselves safe from non-jotun, the giant-kings turned on each other to determine which would ultimately rule the jotun race, sparking off an endless civil war that would consume the civilisation they had built, the magical traditions they had developed (although possibly not as quickly as the blog suggests, given the presence of jotun mesmers in Eye of the North), and ultimately everything that had made them powerful in the first place. In the end, all they had left was their perpetual war with themselves, no longer striving even for control but simply the mindless slaughter of all jotun that were not their relatives.

The jotun might not range the Ice Cliff Chasms, but they did like their monuments... and there are plenty of those to be found here.

With the location of the fallen jotun civilisation now established, we can now look at many of the mysterious sites of the Shiverpeaks with new eyes. Could the fabled city of Moladune, now known only by dwarven legend and the well-known mines it left behind, have been one of the centres of jotun civilisation… and one of the first casualties of their civil war, blasted to oblivion by the magic of warring giant-kings? Might the ice dragon statue near the Eye of the North be one of the monuments mentioned in the blog, raised to commemorate some victory over a draconic opponent or simply as a representation of a giant-king’s personal standard? And what of the Eye itself, whose colossal proportions could indicate that even if not constructed by jotun, it might have been built with the giants in mind? The jotun may not currently range the Ice Cliff Chasms, but the giant-kings did like their monuments, and around this area you will find the best-known monuments in the game.

Of even greater significance, however, might be the relationship between the jotun and the norn – a race that shared territory with the jotun in Eye of the North, and which were described as ‘half-giants’ in their first introduction back in the PCGamer issue that announced both Guild Wars 2 and Eye of the North.

But to speak on the origins of the norn is a discussion unto itself, and shall be left for another day.

Have you got any thoughts of your own regarding the former lords of the Shiverpeaks? Any other mysterious ruins or structures that might be of jotun origin? Comment below!