Saturday, 8 June 2013

The Last Viking

Harald plots with Svein. (Click the
images to get a larger picture.)
Harald Hardrada (hard ruler) was a Norwegian king, who tried to conquer England in 1066. He lost and died in the Battle of Stamford Bridge. He was defeated by Harold Godwinson, who a week later lost the Battle of Hastings to William the Conquerer. The events in 1066 ended the Viking Age, and Harald Hardrada is often called The Last Viking. Some may recognize Harald in my profile image.

Then Sigrid said, "This could very
well be your bane!"
Another famous Norwegian king was Olav Tryggvason. In the image to the left, he quarrels with Sigrid the Haughty, a Swedish queen, known for killing her suitors by burning. Among them was Harald Grenske, who plays a major role in my book The Lethal Oath.

Olav Tryggvason is the model for Crowbone in Robert Low's Oathsworn series. In my third book, Gold, Olav is a toddler, hidden at Vik by his mother.

Gunnhild incites her sons to take
back Norway.
Queen Gunnhild, also figuring in my books, was perhaps the most infamous woman in the sagas of the Norwegian kings. She was a practitioner of seid (old Norse sorcery), and among her many adversaries she was regarded as being evil and vengeful. In the drawing to the left, she incites her sons to revenge the loss of Norway. Her most powerful son was Harald Greyfell, who became king of the western part of Norway. He too is central to plot in The Lethal Oath.

Hild begs Harald Fairhair for her son
 Hrolf, but to no avail; Hrolf had
to flee the country. Hrolf was Rollo,
whose descendants were the Dukes
of Normandy and, following the
Norman conquest of England in
1066, kings of England.
Among the kings in Norway, Harald Fairhair has a unique position. He won the battle at Hafrsfjord in 872 and thus united Norway into one kingdom. He had a number of wives and lovers and a multitude of sons and daughters. Eirik Bloodaxe was his favourite son, but his harsh rule led to centuries of struggle among the descendants of Harald Fairhair. The current king in Norway is the fifth Harald in the Norwegian line of kings. Harald Fairhair was the first.


The drawings on this page are all from the Norwegian version of Heimskringla (the saga of the Norwegian kings by Snorri Sturluson). The are made by well-known artists such as Christian Krogh and Erik Werenskiold. Many of the drawings are also published in Lee Hollander's excellent translation of Heimskringla.


  1. The previews of The Slayer Rune are intriguing. When will the book be published?

  2. Thank you Jianne. If you read e-books or more specifically Kindle e-books, The Slayer Rune is availible at Amazon, along with the second book The Lethal Oath. You can reach them by clicking the images in the sidebar.

    1. Thanks John. Going to check them out.

  3. Adding these to my growing list! They look fascinating. I"d be interested in your take on Jane Smiley's The Greenlanders, one of my all-time favorites.

    1. I downloaded a sample and started reading the Greenlanders, and I will definitively read the rest.
      Thank you for pointing me to the book!