Sunday, 4 December 2016

Excerpt from John Snow's next book

Read the first chapter in The Viking War, the fifth and last book in the saga of Sigve.

The chapters begins where the last book ended: in Queen Gunnhild's bed chamber.

In the previous book, The Bitch Queen, Sigve the Awful defeated a fearsome adversary, but he had to pay a high price. In the new book, he has sworn allegiance to King Harald Greycloak of Norway, an old enemy. Queen Gunnhild, the king's mother, demands more and more of Sigve.

War is building in Denmark, and when King Greycloak is dragged into the conflict, Sigve seeks to take advantage of the situation and get out of his thralldom. He still wears his rune sword, and he gets help from Life, the king's subdued lover thrall.

History and myth, love and action in John Snow's next book
History and myth, love and action in John Snow's next book


I could kill for those hands, Sigve thought.
Sigve the Awful watched Life, the woman tending his wounds. She rinsed the cuts at his shoulders and turned to fetch a bowl of soothing ointment. The cut-washing hurt, but Life’s fingers lessened the pain; the salve would relieve the ache even more. It was not the first time Life had treated his sore skin.
They sat on a bench in a small nursing house. A fire was burning in a pit on the floor, and a tiny beam of light swept down from the smoke vent. On a timber along the bench, two oil-lamps were set up to help Life in her treatment. In times of war, the sickroom could be packed with wounded warriors. Today they were alone in the room.
Sigve studied Life. Her hair was bundled up and pinned with a polished bone stick; it was shining black, and usually the hair hung down her back. Life was a healer, not very tall or slim; she was small and oozing of woman. Her hands were warm, and turning to Sigve, she used the tip of her fingers to stroke his shoulders, preparing to rub salve into the wounds. When she turned towards him, Sigve caught her eyes; they were almond-shaped, dark, and sad.
"You’ve grown stronger," Life said. Steering clear of the cuts, her fingers rubbed his bulging muscles.
"Yes," he answered.

Sunday, 20 November 2016

Tyr - the slayer rune - opens Wardruna's album Ragnarok

The album Ragnarok (2016) finishes Wardruna's trilogy Runaljod (sound of runes). In three albums Einar Selvik and his band interprets the 24 runes of the elder futhark (the old rune alphabet). Prior to Ragnarok, they have released Gap var Ginnunga (2009) and Yggdasil (2013), and in each album, they present melodies interpreting eight runes - plus extra melodies, like the popular Helvegen (the road to Hel).

John Snow aka Terje Hillesund (author of The Slayer Rune) at Eidsivablot waiting for Wardruna to play
John Snow aka Terje Hillesund (to the right) at Eidsivablot
waiting for Wardruna to play.

In Norse mythology, Ginnungagap is the name of the deep chasm or gap in which the world was created. Yggdrasil is the name of a huge ash tree, the world tree, and Ragnarok is the end of the world; the final battle in which gods and humans will perish.

Tyr is the name of a rune and the title on the first song in Wardruna's last album. Tyr is originally a Norse god of war. He put his right hand in the mouth of the wolf Fenrir who bit the hand off after the gods had bound him with an unbreakable ribbon.

Einar Selvik from Wardruna interprets the rune Tyr in Ragnarok, 
the third album in the Runaljod trilogy.
Einar Selvik from Wardruna interprets the rune Tyr in Ragnarok,
the third album in the Runaljod trilogy.

The Old Icelandic Rune Poem says about the Tyr rune, that "Tyr is a one-handed god / and a wolf's leftover / and the temple's chief." In The Lay of Sigrdrifa (in The Poetic Edda) Sigurd the Dragonslayer wakes up a valkyrie, Sigerdrifa, who starts giving him words of wisdom and advice. In the sixth stanza of the lay, she tells Sigurd how to use the Tyr rune:

Victory-rune you must cut if you want to have victory,
and cut them on your sword-hilt;
some on the blade-guards, some on the plates,
and invoke Tyr twice.

In my book The Slayer Rune, this is exactly what the young hero Sigurd Haraldson does. Sigurd (who is later called Sigve the Awful) carves Tyr on his sword-hilt and gives it magic powers, but without knowing the consequences. Tyr, of course, is the slayer rune.

Monday, 14 November 2016

New Book from John Snow

Terje Hillesund aka John Snow is writing a
new book about Sigve the Awful, the
fifth book in The Viking Series

I am glad to tell that I'm writing a new book in the Saga of Sigve the Awful. It's the fifth book in the series, but I haven't decided on the title. War is building in the northern countries, and King Harald Greycloak of Norway sends Sigve to spy on his uncle, King Harald Bluetooth of Denmark. In the brewing struggles, the opponents are many, and everyone seems ready to betray everyone, even their closest kin. In the the bed chambers, powerful women are inciting their men to fight, and Queen Gunnhild, The Bitch Queen, is an active player.

I've thought of calling the book "Vikings at War", but I'm not sure yet.

Everyone who writes historical fiction does a lot of research. In my stories, I describe Viking environments and events (buildings, weapons, food, ships, battles) as accurate as possible, and to do so, I travel to important museums and historical sites, I visit reconstructed Viking houses, I follow the building of longships, I search the Internet, but first of all I read books.

Here, I'd like to present some of the these books. As in my stories about Sigve the Awful, love, warfare, history, and mythology are themes in the books below .

Vikings at WarVikings at War by Kim Hjardar
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Vikinger i krig meaning "Vikings at War" is a very good Norwegian book about Viking warfare; now coming in English. It tells about the Vikings as raiders and conquerors, and the book describes how they established long-lasting realms in Ireland, Scotland, England, France and Russia. The book is beautifully illustrated with a wealth of informative photos, drawings, maps and graphics. It describes Viking war strategies at sea and on land, and it contains an especially interesting chapter about Viking weapons: their use and the weapons mythological and religious significance.

RagnarokRagnarok by A.S. Byatt
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A.S. Byatt’s Ragnarok: The End of the Gods is a great book: well-written, interesting, exciting. I read it twice.

Ragnarok is about a little girl. Evacuated from Sheffield, she grows up in the English Second World War countryside. Here she starts reading the English version of the German book Asgard and the Gods. Digging into the mind of the child, Byatt simultaneously tells the girl’s life, her experiences with Asgard and the Gods, and the story of the Norse gods and Ragnarok. It’s elegant.

I don’t understand the end of the book. Does it give a stripe of hope? I don’t know. In Voluspå (the great Edda poem telling of the World’s beginning and end), a new and cleansed Earth rises after Ragnarok. But I prefer to believe that the Vikings and Byatt see Ragnarok as the ultimate destruction. Humanity lives and dies. End of story.

Sven Tveskæg - Danernes sidste vikingSven Tveskæg - Danernes sidste viking by Preben Mørkbak
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I read this book a few years ago, and I found it interesting and well-researched, but a bit slow. In my opinion, the most exciting part was the descriptions of the difficult relationship between Svein Forkbeard (Sven Tveskæg) and his father Harald Bluetooth.

When I read it again, it is to get some inspiration for a book I'm writing in which Svein Forkbeard is but a boy, but in which Harald Bluetooth plays a decisive role. My book is fifth in a series, and it follows The Bitch Queen in which Gunnhild Kingsmother is a major character. She is Svein Forkbeard's aunt and Harald Bluetooth's sister, and like all writers I'm stealing from others. So, thank you Preben Mørbak for your portrayal of Bluetooth!

View all my reviews

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Blood, battles, and passion: The Bitch Queen.

I'm happy to announce that you now can order The Bitch Queen.
United States (and the rest of the world): AMAZON.COM
United Kingdom: AMAZON.CO.UK

The Bitch Queen by John Snow

To save his chiefdom, Sigve must convince the Bitch Queen he is the man to support.

The Bitch Queen was one of many names for Queen Gunnhild, also called Mother of Kings. Gunnhild was married to Eirik Bloodaxe, who was King of Norway and King of York. She was a cunning woman, a practitioner of seid and black magic, exceptionally beautiful, and, according to legend, after King Eirik's death she developed an insatiable appetite for young men.

In this fourth book in The Viking Series, the saga of Sigve the Awful continues. An old enemy of Sigve's family returns to Norway from his exile in Northumbria. Kalv Kolson arrives with his son, Einar, who leads a fierce band of warriors. When Sigve learns about their arrival, he decides to eradicate Kalv, Einar, and the rest of the family – wives, children, and all.

Einar, however, is a good friend of Harald, Queen Gunnhild's son. Harald is King of Norway, and he has promised Einar his support. For Sigve it is crucial to make the king change his mind and help him instead. But, as everyone knows, the will of the king can only be moved through Gunnhild, who exerts great power over her son. Among people in the country, there is a saying that “Norway is ruled by the queen's cunt.”

In order to achieve his goal, Sigve sets out to meet Queen Gunnhild. The result of their meeting is uncertain. In every way, the Bitch Queen is hard to satisfy.

The brutality of Viking life.
The brutality of it all. Who will suffer in John Snow's new book "The Bitch Queen"?

Sunday, 28 February 2016

John Snow bestseller in UK with "The Slayer Rune"

John Snow, The Slayer Rune, and The Bitch Queen!
Will "The Bitch Queen" by John Snow do just as well as "The Slayer Rune?

This year has started very well for the books in the Viking Series. Again and again, "The Slayer Rune" has been no.1 on the UK Kindle bestseller-list in the category "Historical Norse & Icelandic". Now I hope my new book "The Bitch Queen" will do just as well!

"The Bitch Queen" can be pre-ordered at and
"The Slayer Rune" can be bought here and here

John Snow and The Slayer Rune on the bestseller list!