Category Archives: The Man in Cell 41

Lyle’s Sketch/Project of the Day: Fenrir-themed Viking Shield

I thought it would be fun to do a literary art/wood project, so I started brainstorming. While wasting time browsing Amazon, I found a place that sold a shield boss (that’s the round metal part in the center). Well you know I just had to have it. Now, about 4 months later, my Prose Edda literary art/wood project is complete! Here’s the stages of the project in photos. Enjoy!

My shield boss from Amazon
Next, I went to Lowe’s and bought a round tabletop blank and cut a hole in the center and routed out the sharp edge.
Once the boss was dry-fit, I marked out the hole
Shield boss pattern for later
Then I gave it two good primer spray coats
After finding the circumference center, I split the top in half with tape and a board to catch the overspray and painted half white.
After that dried, I repeated the process for the other half in green. The colors were simply ones I liked. No particular meaning.
In the end, I came out with this split-color shield blank
Then came the design elements. I decided to theme this project on Norse mythology in honor of my Finnish and Norwegian ancestry. I chose the great wolf, Fenrir, for the theme. This is the sketch pattern for the design of Fenrir.

In Norse Mythology, Fenrir is a wolf born of Loki and giantess Angrboda, the mother of monsters. Fenrir grew at an alarming rate to the Norse Gods and frightened them. Odin was particularly interested in seeing something done about this great and terrible beast when it was prophesied the wolf would devour and kill him during Ragnarok. The Gods tricked Fenrir into a game of strength by binding him with different strengths of chain to see if he could break them. He broke them all.

Little did Fenrir know that Odin went to the greatest craftsmen among the dwarves for a binding that could not be broken. They had just the thing: gleipnir. The super-strong silken bands were an enchanted concoction of a woman’s beard, a fish’s breath, root of a mountain, bird spittle, sinew of a bear, and the final ingredient, the sound of a cat’s footfall. Mixed together, they made an unbreakable bond.

Fenrir was wary of the God’s enthusiasm for this game, so when Odin proposed he try to escape a gleipnir binding, Fenrir demanded Tyr, the Norse God of Justice and Fenrir’s only friend among them, place his hand in Fenrir’s mouth while he tried to escape the gleipnir. They bound him up and as expected, he couldn’t break the binding. Fenrir bit off Tyr’s hand as he struggled to free himself but the binding grew tighter with every thrash and twist. Before long, the great wolf was trapped.

Fenris faces Thor concept art.

From there, Odin had Fenrir imprisoned on the isle of Lyngvi where the beast would be kept until Ragnarok. While Fenrir was free, he had two sons; Hati, the one who hates, and Skoll, the one who mocks. The white wolf, Hati, would forever chase the moon while his brother, the black wolf, Skoll, would chase the sun. Once the brothers succeeded, they would devour the heavenly bodies and herald the coming of Ragnarok. They would then free their father to take his revenge on Odin and bring about the end of the world.

The valknut symbol, often associated with Odin and Fenrir. Three interlocking and never-ending triangles.
The pattern for Hati and Skoll.
I cut them out to stencil onto the shield below.
I traced the outline of my design sketches to paint.
Four coats of black laid the foundation for the detailing to begin.
Laying in and painting details for the valknut, Hati and Skoll. Then came Fenrir. I used paint pens and acrylics for the details.
Once the designs were fully transferred, detail work was underway. Here’s my final detail on Fenrir.
Detail for Skoll, who chases the sun, with his binding rune.
Detail for Hati, who chases the moon, with his binding rune.
A leather band was added to the edge for a more authentic look, and the names Hati and Skoll were added in runic letters.
And the final product. Hati and Skoll are bound to always chase, but never catch, the sun and moon to try and free their father.

I hope you’ve liked this. I truly enjoyed making it and learning my ancestor’s mythology. It was a fun challenge that taught me a few things. In the end, it gives me a wonderful conversation piece I am proud to say I made. That’s something I love about hand made items: they aren’t perfect. They are just the work of a simple artist doing what they love. Now it’s your turn. Go make something awesome!

‘The Man in Cell 41’ Book Trailer debut!

June 1961 – Dean Talbot awakes from a drunken blackout to discover his wife has been brutally murdered. He doesn’t know if he did it or not and is arrested for the crime. After a swift trial, he is sentenced to spend the rest of his life in prison on The Rock; Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary. Once there, he meets a strange inmate from Denmark who seems to know an awful lot about Richie and his wife’s murder.

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Cover art

The inmate’s name is Harald, also convicted of murder. He teases Richie with facts that could prove Harald was the murderer. Convinced of his innocence, Richie works with a guard to find out more about Harald and the crimes he’s committed. What they discover, however, is a secret that could kill them all. Harald is no simple killer, and Richie discovers a family secret that will change his destiny forever.

Prisoner 1578

“Your family is legend, Mr. Talbot. You may not know it yet, but I do. I’ve studied you just as I have studied your lineage. Do you think it is by accident we have both come to share space on this island at the exact same moment?” Harald asked with a menacing grin while circling Richie like a hunter with his prey. Harald continued.

“You bear a mark, just as your father did, and his father and his father and his, back to the beginning. Do not play coy. You know of what I speak. You know not of the power within you, but I do. It’s time, Mr. Talbot. It’s time for you to let it out…”

Harald to Dean Talbot, The Man in Cell 41

From the future Historical-Fiction/Horror novel The Man in Cell 41 by Lyle S. Russell. Follow this blog for updates!


Second Novel is Underway! The Man in Cell 41

Some folks will call it a creative slowdown, or a loss of inspiration. Maybe the educated among us refer to it as a psychological inability to write or produce new work. Call it what you like, but I call it writer’s block, and it is a terrible thing. Everyone has experienced it at some point, whether while working on your first novel, working on an essay for school or heck, even on a grocery list. It happens… and it’s awful.

However, sometimes it can be a blessing. While sitting at my keyboard one day, researching and typing and editing and researching some more on revolutionary-era documents, I hit a wall. A big wall. With bricks and such. And maybe some rebar in there for good measure. Rebar… that’s when I had an idea.

What if the last prisoner in Alcatraz was never recorded anywhere because he had a secret? Records vary a little, but most show there were 1,576 people who spent time behind bars there until the prison closed in 1963, but what if there were two more that no one ever knew about? What if it was closed because of these last two prisoners and what they did… or better yet, what they were?

Prisoner 1578

“What keeps you up at night, Mr. Talbot? Is it the loss of your freedom? Perhaps it is the echo of old miseries from these stone walls, or is it fear of the beast that murdered your wife? I know that beast, Mr. Talbot. You hunt it. You might be surprised to know, it hunts you too.” – Harald, “The Goalie”

And just like that, novel number two, The Man in Cell 41 is underway! More details are coming soon. Stay tuned!