For the Love of Giants

My first crush. Yes, I'm serious.
I have always been in love with giants. This is probably due to my being a small woman, and as a small woman am therefore fascinated with everything that towers over me. Even when I was young, however, and was the same size as every other seven-year-old, I was always mesmerized with the notion of there being enormous creatures (I consider seven feet enormous) in the world merely awaiting discovery, and though reading Mother Goose and Grim tales reinforced this idea, most of the giants depicted in those stories are antagonists. These giants were well in their turn, but I wanted good giants, giants who had hearts and could be considered heroes rather than those who were coveting golden geese and living lonely lives at the tops of beanstalks. Where did my infatuation with the lofty begin? Probably in biblical times.

Giants in History:
Goliath of Gath 
I have to admit, David's a cheater
Goliath, or Goliyat as I learned in the throes of bible school, was said to be the giant of Gath (or Gat), one of the five city-states belonging to the Philistines (or Pilishtim). The story goes that when the Ancient Israelites came to the Valley of Elah (Emek HaElah), Goliath stood out from amongst the lines and made a challenge to the approaching hoards. He asked for a champion to fight one-on-one, and David offered himself as an opponent. How David defeated Goliath is up for debate, as scholars cannot agree as to whether he was hit in the head or the shins, but whatever the case, David eventually beheaded our Philistine warrior and presented his head to the Philistine army, who then surrendered and fled the valley. Goliath's height is another subject under much discussion, as some believe he was not seven feet and others believe he was nine feet tall, but the one article quite clear is that Goliath was an honourable warrior. He may have been on the losing side of things, but he fought fairly and gave David time to prepare before meeting his unfortunate and somewhat undeserved end. Learning this story when I was about six only expatiated my desire to know more about the more honourable giants of legend.

Ogias and The Book of Giants
Poor Ogias is terribly left out of the biblical curriculum. Though Sihon and Og from the Book of Numbers are said to have been his progeny and Gilgamesh and Humbaba were said to have been his friends, no one seems to know about this heroic mammoth. Ogias is the main hero of the Book of Giants, a book written in biblical times that is not part of the typical cannon. How could this astonishing creature have been overlooked? His tale was discovered along with the Book of Enoch as part of the Dead Sea Scrolls and therefore the magnificent story of Ogias' defeating a dragon before the time of the great flood has been left aside for those who are interested in all the apocryphal material never taught in bible studies. According to the Book of Giants, angels who fell took the daughters of men as wives and fathered giants, creatures ranging anywhere from seven to nine feet. The flood, unfortunately, came and wiped them out along with all the other amazing beings of the world apparently.    

The Vikings, or the Vikingr, were Ancient Norse explorers who pillaged and conquered much of Europe and the North Atlantic from the 8th to 11th century. Famous Vikings such as Cnut the Great, Erik the Red, and William the Conqueror were all heralded as great men in accomplishment as well as in size, but the question is: how tall were the Vikings really? The answer in my mind is: how tall was the average 8th century European? I would like to think that they were a little shorter than the average European now. According to Idn Faldan, an emissary from Bagdad who met the Vikings in 921, claimed that they were "as tall as date palms". Only history knows if this claim was an exaggeration, but I'm certainly willing to believe that they towered over the average European much in the same way that 70% of the world currently towers over me.

Conan the Cimmerian
Conan as drawn by Frazetta
Yes, I am talking about Conan the Barbarian. Howard wrote the stories of our great hero based on the legends of the Cimmerian (or Kimmerian) people, an Indo-Eurpoean nomadic tribe that had their territories south of the Caucasus. Though Conan himself may be fictional, Howard employed the few surviving legends mixed with Celtic lore to create the Hyborian Age, the fictional realm in which Conan parades about ,going on his various adventures. In the stories, Conan is described as the son of a blacksmith who was six feet in height when only fifteen years old. His description later in the volumes discusses his immense height, massive arms, and volcanic blue eyes. Though Conan as Howard wrote him may not have been real, he kept to the looks of the Cimmerians as closely as what history knows about them.

Modern Giants:
Peter Steele and Rautu were separated at birth
As I endured my teen years as well as my gothic teenage constitution would allow, I learned less of legendary figures and more of modern giants. The first time I saw Andre the Giant in the Princess Bride, I was ecstatic. I thought, "At last! I found one!" and indeed, he was rather a large man at seven feet and four inches, and though he passed on, I found other modern giants to remark. Peter Steele from Type-O-Negative caught my eye, as well as an increase of recorded sightings of the Almas of Mongolia. While the elusive red-haired yeti tribesmen of Mongolia may have been of little interest to some, they were all my fascination. While they might bear more of a resemblance to Orangutans than Peter Steele or Andre the Giant, evidence of their existence would be a triumph in any regard. Many explorers have led expeditions to find the Almas, but only a sprinkling of sightings have been recorded. I do hope that Brian Blessed makes good on his promise to find them; I'll be the first one to stab fingers at faces and shout "I told you so".

Giants in Fantasy:
The Roegadyn from FF 14
The Bahmi from Rift
Time passed on, and I was introduced to the realm of fantasy literature. From Barak in the Belgariad, who resembled a more Viking breed of giant, to the Ispolini in Bulgarian lore, who are mountain giants afraid of blackberries (Rautu must be a relative of theirs), my world of giants only increased. From literature, it was only a short jump to comics. There I found the Hulk - I prefer grey Hulk- Maul from WildCats, Erik Larson's Savage Dragon, Stephen Platt's Soul Saga, and a plethora of giant men who were forever trying to save the world. From there, I drifted toward games. To my great horror, giants were not a playable race in D&D by the time I got around to my first game, but other systems such as Rifts and even the World of Darkness allowed me to enjoy the advantages of height and added strength for a time. Even though the Haanta have now joined the literature branch of the giant tree, my enthrallment with large races in games still continues. I recently discovered the Roegadyn from Final Fantasy 14 and the Bahmi from Rift, both of which are races of giants from a set of northern settlements and who were once one with the elements. I suppose that giants being a northern people living in a volcanic or mountainous terrain is a common trope used in many fantasy worlds, for the Haanta, whether on the eastern or western of the Two Continents, follow suit by living in the north near mountains or on islands of volcanic rock, keeping to themselves and enjoying their harmonic lives. I am very interested to see the Baraka, the giant race being talked about for Tera, and though I am not fond of online games, making giants in the character creator always gives me great joy.  

I don't believe that my fascination with giants will ever see its end, whether that is to my credit or to my detriment, I cannot say. My very first crush was Goliath from Gargoyles, and from there everything has always been giants with me, whether giants with wings, swords, loincloths, or otherwise. Rautu, Unghaahi, Otenohi, Leraa, and the Haanta in general, I suppose, are an amalgamation of my love for giants and my desire to have a race of mountainous creatures trudging about in plain sight. Will I live to see such a thing happen? I might, but for now I'm content with the prospect of knowing that there will always be more giant races discover and that there is one for me about which I can write to my heart's content.

Want to learn more about the Haanta? Start here:


  1. Giants always were, are and will be all around us :D Haanta are the epithomy of everything I love in giants :D LONG LIVE GIANTSSSSSSS!!! ^^^

    (ps: don't ask me about my first crush... ^_^')

  2. I'm impressed by the giants too. But I am struck by size not being a huge influence on basic nature so we can relate quite easily.

    Love your giant brothers and the stories about them!

  3. First of all, you're awesome. Second of all, we also share a certain Viking fantasy it seems :) I'm 5'1" and my husband is 6' with a red beard... do you see where this is going? Thanks for thinking of me!

  4. omg the Gargoyles series--it's been a zillion years since I used to watch (and love) that show. The episode where Goliath turns into a human (I think it was a spell put on him or something) is still in my head.


Post a Comment