Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Vikings - a historical fantasy series?

The History Channel series Vikings is a fabulous saga full of exiting characters, good action, and realistic Viking settings. In four episodes we have followed Ragnar Lothbrok (played by Travis Fimmel). So far I’m impressed. Just as Ragnar at the end of episode four is preparing for more action, so am I.

The Lothbrok character is built on the sagas of Ragnar Lodbrok, who was a legend even in the late Viking Age, and definitely when the sagas were written half a millennium after Ragnar’s death. Despite being shown on History Channel, Vikings is not a historical series in a strict sense; it is rather a new version of the ancient Ragnar Lodbrok legend. In order to tell a good story, the series even tends to be rather unhistorical.

Saturday, 16 March 2013

The Slayer Rune

Here is a new cover. I have done a lot of small adjustments based on comments in Writer's Discussion Group at Google+. I’m glad I joined this group. In addition to comments on the e-book cover, I’ve received good advice on my writing. Both the prologue and the first chapters in The Slayer Rune have been edited. You can read the new versions here on the blog (see sidebar), and I'm open for more comments.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

The volva and her herbs

"In a sad voice, Sigurd's mother began to sing, followed by the rest of the women.

It was a song about Freya, daughter of Njord, the goddess of love. The lay caused people to sway, moving to and fro. They sang it slowly, there, inside the hall, they lamented Freya's love of Od.

The song turned really sad when Od ran away. "Where is Od?" the women moaned in the song. In the glowing light of the pit fires, his mother changed into a volva, offering herbs to the flames. Making a flash, the burning leaves filled the room with a heavy and sweet-smelling smoke.

The lay was arousing, and soon the men fell in, enchanted. They all sang about Freya's longing, and the song was for Njord, the god who brought the grain – and the bjor."
(From The Slayer Rune)

Monday, 11 March 2013

Hemp and bjor

Archaelogical findings show that Norwegian Vikings grew hemp. Or as the researchers would say: they cultivated cannabis. Hemp fibers were used in textiles and ropes, and the plant was probably used to make drugs. Cannabis seeds have been found in excavations in Southern Norway and in the Oseberg grave. This has led some researcher to believe that one of the women in the grave was a powerful volva and a master of seid.

"The women had brewed bjor, the strongest beer; the girls had mixed the brew with hemp and other mind-bending herbs. The chieftain was planning a big feast. The hall was painted and decorated with deep-coloured rugs, and tables were set up and covered with bowls and drinking horns." ...

Friday, 8 March 2013

The Oseberg ship

Last winter an exact replica of the famous Oseberg ship was built in Tunsberg, Norway. As part of my research for coming books, I visited the building site last spring, and it was extremely interesting to watch the work and talk with shipwrights, woodcarvers and other craftsmen building the ship. The building was done outside a hotel near the harbour in Tunsberg and the site was open to the general public. In the hotel’s lobby women were also weaving cloth for tents and sail.