Guest Post: "Viking Attraction" by Violetta Rand

Many things attracted me to Vikings. I’ve been in love with history forever. As a highly imaginative child, prone to telling tall tales, reading and writing came naturally. Of course what I read and wrote is another story. It started with sneaking peeks at my eldest brother’s collection of Conan the Barbarian comic books and developed into a full blown obsession with heroes. What’s more compelling than a warrior’s tale? I can’t think of anything I like more. Combine romance, action, and a touch of mysticism and I’m hooked—in a big way.

Lacking any central authority during the early raids, Norsemen seized this opportunity and often returned from pillaging in glory and wealthier than they ever dreamed. Commoners became princes, men of reputation and honor. That’s where I draw inspiration. All Vikings, great and small, sought one common end—a seat at Odin’s table in Valhalla.

Imagining the glories of Asgard, the heavenly realm where Odin and his children lived, made it easy to develop my hero, Randvior Sigurdsson. Herculean and irrevocably devoted to Odin, Randvior might appear the typical Alpha at first glance, but he’s not. His father, Anundr Sigurdsson, decided his only son would benefit from the wealth he’d earned from seafaring. As a result, my hero received an English education. Fluent in many languages and well-traveled, Randvior anticipates change, including the expansion of the Church. He’s worked hard to establish trading rights and new homesteads across Europe. He’s tired of raiding and considers it an unnecessary risk. This wisdom gives him the ability to think more liberally and make better choices for his future. Kill or be killed might be the mantra of the Viking Age, but mercy has its advantages. Randvior demonstrates mercy when he first encounters Noelle Sinclair.

Noelle Sinclair is a young noblewoman from Durham, England. Although she’s not her father’s favorite daughter, he respects her the most because she’s shown how independent and quick witted she is under pressure. That said, Noelle is also educated and quite fond of reading. When three longships appear in the middle of the night, it’s Noelle who springs into action and leads her sister to safety. Once she realizes other women from her household are unaccounted for, she marches back to the castle to confront the invaders and save her kinsmen. This allegiance attracts the attention of Randvior who bargains with Noelle’s brother for custody of her.

Noelle has no intention of forsaking her home. She opposes Randvior every step of the way—from Durham to Norway. Each holds the other responsible for many mishaps, including the legitimacy of their opposed religions. Blind Allegiance offers a glimpse into the turbulent life of a Viking lord who offers his soul to a woman he’s not supposed to love. And Noelle knows it’s a risk of a lifetime loving a man she’s supposed to hate.

Guest Post: "Warning – Shocking News Ahead" by Gina Conkle

Welcome Gina as she talks about her research for “Norse Jewel.”

 

That’s how my research about Vikings circa AD 1000 felt: one shock wave of surprise after another. Some pleasant, some not so pleasant.

I’ll share my surprising three, but first let me set the stage for how Norse Jewel was born.

In 1999, I traveled to Sweden not planning to fall in love with the country or its museums, but I did. After that vacation, I devoured Viking fiction and non-fiction. Then, our family welcomed our second child and time demands changed happily toward my sons.

Then, I picked up a favorite non-fiction book, Vikings: The North Atlantic Saga. At the same time, I watched the movie “Gladiator.” That’s when the seed took root.

What if a Viking chieftain wanted to lay down his sword like Maximus and live a farmer’s life? That’s how Norse Jewel was born, but there’s more.

As a lover of history, I wanted to write historical romance rich in detail (okay, as much as the romance genre allows). So, more research was needed.

That’s when I learned some shocking facts about Vikings:

1. Thralls (slaves)

Throw out everything you think you know about slaves in history. Time to take an altogether new viewpoint when it comes to Vikings and their thralls. Yes, some slave women were used and abused. But, if you read the sagas, you’ll find a lot of lusty women…female thralls count high in that number. In fact, some thralls gained their freedom and stayed in the northlands. And happily so! Metal workers were especially valued, slave or free.

2. Divorce

While the rest of Europe forbade divorce for centuries, or made you pay half a kingdom to obtain that decree, not so with the Norse. A woman need only gather a witnesses at her lintel (doorway) and proclaim several times that she was no longer married to (insert husband’s name here) and then repeat the proclamation by the marriage bed. The divorce was final. Custom held that women left with what she came to the marriage with and any young children. Boys would return to their father’s keeping when they reached a “certain age.”

3. Heroism

You probably think converted Viking leaders threatened their people with “Convert to the White Christ or else…” You’d be right on some counts. But, there were great men, strong leaders with huge hearts, like Olof Skotkonung of Sweden. Olof converted to Christianity in the early 1000s. He was bothered by the Norse siddur, the “9th Year Blot.” Every 9 years 9 goats, 9 chickens, 9 men… Whoa! 9 men?!? Yes, human sacrifice died out in other Nordic regions, but the Vikings of Sweden held fast, honoring Odin with sacrifices (some say well into the 1100s). King Olof worked for peaceful conversion in Svea (Sweden) but was ultimately exiled by his son, Anund Jakob. Anund Jakob, it was said, walked and talked like a man with a full beard by the time he was 14. And, at the age of 14, Anund Jakob gained enough backing to hold onto the “old ways” and sent his father into quiet exile.

Dig deeper into history, and you find all kinds of surprises, shocking good, and shocking bad, but surprises worthy of a story nonetheless.

Thank you for letting me be part of your day and for the opportunity to be part of your blog. I appreciate it and hope you enjoy Norse Jewel.