Thursday, 27 March 2014

Viking novella for only $0.99!

A new episode of Vikings is due, and for the remaining period of season 2 of this wonderful TV series you can buy The Slayer Rune for the special price of $0.99! The book is a historical action-adventure novella and the first instalment in a series from the Viking Age. The second book is titled The Lethal Oath ($2.99).

Vikings. Bjorn, son of Ragnar Lothbrok. Bjorn's first battle.
I can't wait to see Bjorn's first fight.
 Bjorn, in Vikings, being the son of Ragnar Lothbrok and Lagertha.

There is a growing interest in the Viking Age, and modern people seem to be inspired by the Vikings at multiple levels of myth, legend, and actual history. Movies like Valhalla Rising and TV series like Vikings include both mythological and historical elements, even if creative uses of legendary motives seem to dominate. Authors like Bernard Cornwell, Robert Low, J.R.R. Tolkien and George R.R. Martin are all deeply influenced by Viking culture and Norse mythology, and the lyrics by music bands such as Amon Amarth are all about Odin, Loki and Ragnarok. In this blog I try to cover some aspect of the profound influence the Viking Age has on modern popular culture.

I also write Viking stories in the form of short novels, and without making invidious comparisons, in my books I try to create a world and an atmosphere in which social, mythological and historical events are equally important in the lives and experiences of my characters. Even if the stories contain supernatural elements, the books are nevertheless realistic in the sense that long-forgotten creatures, powers, and gods are treated as if they were real, an integral part of the world in which I imagine Sigurd and his family lived. For me it is extremely inspiring try to describe the feelings and sensations of my characters as realistically as possible and at the same time create action and suspense for the readers.

When I put so much effort into writing my Viking stories as entertaining as possible, I also hope to get as many readers as possible. For some weeks, therefore, the first book in the series will be sold for the give-away price of $0.99. Buy it and enjoy yourself!

John Snow. The Slayer Rune. Special prize: $0.99
(NOW $0.99!)

The Slayer Rune - book description:
The Slayer Rune is an historical action-adventure novella with slight supernatural elements. In this first instalment in the new series, the stage is set in Norway in AD 967. Young Sigurd, the chieftain's son, is in love with Yljali, a pretty, foreign thrall girl. Helgi Blackbeard, the king's captain-of-arms, has also discovered Yljali's beauty, and he wants to possess her. Helgi Blackbeard is a powerful man, but he is not the only one lusting for the girl. Harald the Chieftain, Sigurd's father, often looks in her direction. 

Sigurd does not fight his battles alone. The old and mysterious Grim reveals the secrets of the runes to Sigurd, and Gisli, the captain-of-arms at Vik, has promised him a very special sword – Gisli's own blade. But when Sigurd decides to act, he sparks off a chain of events that no one is able to control.
The Slayer Rune is the first book in The Viking Series.

John Snow. The Lethal Oath

The Lethal Oath - book description:
The Lethal Oath, the second book in The Viking Series, continues the late-Viking Age saga of Sigve the Awful – begun in The Slayer Rune.

Despite his young age - and mostly because of the slayer rune, the spell that quicken Sigve's sword and grant superhuman strength to him as its wielder - Sigve has gained a reputation as a swordsman. At the opening of this second instalment, Sigve becomes the youngest chieftain in King Godred's realm. During the inaugural feast, he swears a sacred oath on his blade, only to discover it stands in the way of his bedding Yljali – the mysterious, beautiful thrall who, along with Sigve and Grim, knows the secret of the slayer rune.

He breaks the oath with dire consequences. He looses control of his sexual desires; he finds himself in conflict with both his mother and his captain-of-arms, and he becomes deeply involved in the war between King Godred and Harald Greyfell, two mighty kings. Soon Sigve has to fight for Yljali, for the people at Vik, and for his own survival.

Odd the Squinter, Skarphedin the Second-Sighted, and Sigrunn Silkyhair continue their roles in this segment of the story, and new players arrive: Kale Curved-Cock, and his daughter, the Body, among them. Sigve continues to make poor decisions under the blinding influence of his lust for Yljali, ignoring the words of his one-eyed tutor, Grim: Everyone's life is entangled in the great struggle between order and chaos.

And then, there is Odin …

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Review of Vikings Season 2

After two episodes in the second season of Vikings, we see a new conflict evolve, between Ragnar Lothbrok and King Ecbert, ruler of Wessex. On their voyage to raid in Northumbria, the fleet of Earl Ragnar and King Horik runs into a storm, gets out of course, and lands in Wessex. Here they meet King Ecbert's warriors.

Rollo in season 2 of Vikings
Going into battle bare-headed and stripped to the waist.
Not a very smart way to face sharpened longaxes,
swords and spears.

It took nearly two episodes to establish a new conflict in the series. In episode one, nothing much happened. The old conflicts were renewed: Lagertha had to give way for Aslaug, Ragnar's new woman, and Lagertha left him, taking their son Bjørn with her. Ragnar is still in conflict with his brother Rollo and with Jarl Borg. Of course the whole season opened with a great  battle full of blood and killing, very well made. Such battle scenes nevertheless make me reflect on how much film depends on showing events visually. In the turmoil of battle, for viewers to be able see who is fighting who, the creators (in this case Michael Hirst) have to strip the heroes of their helmets, and in Vikings even of their mail. To let warriors fight without any forms of protection, stripped to their waists, may be sexy, but in real life it would have been sheer stupidity.

Anyway,  having seen the Season 2 Trailer on YouTube, many fans of the series feared that Floki would die, but he survived the battle, and in episode two has finished building Ragnar's fleet and made it ready to sail west into new battles. In England the conflict with Ecbert will develop, and I'm looking forward to the rest of the episodes. As in the first season, the show has lots of exiting characters, good action, and realistic Viking settings. I'm sure the conflicts will deepen, and I'm also sure that more unrealistic battle scenes will impress both me and many other fans.


On the blog I've written more post about Vikings, Ragnar Lothbrok, Aslaug, and other legendary and historical persons in the series:

For all who want to read Viking stories, I have written two novellas (The Slayer Rune and The Lethal Oath) and I'm working on a third (Gold).

For an analysis of the use of mythological symbols in this teaser, go to The Viking Rune (blog).

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Vikings: Life and Legend

Today I received a very encouraging message from one of my readers. He had read an article in The Guardian about the coming Viking exhibition at British Museum. In a review of the exhibition the Guardian journalist asks for a more engaging Viking story. My reader had titled his message: John Snow tells the story.

Tha background is that  British Museum in London opens the exhibition Vikings: Life and Legend on the 6th of March this year. It is the largest Viking exhibition at the museum for more than 30 years and at its centre is Roskilde 6, the biggest Viking ship ever found. From stem to stern it is unbelievingly 37 meters long.

Roskilde 6, 37 meters long; the largest Viking ship ever?
Roskilde 6, 37 meters long; the largest Viking ship ever?