Sunday, 28 March 2010

From one Viking Author to another - A writers sword and shield - Valkyrian Ventures Part 4 Sneak peak

Well my passion for books and love of viking historial fiction got the better of me yesterday when I visited our local Waterstones book shop in town.

I only wanted the new Robert Low book 'Prow Beast' but whilst I did find that I also came across a new comer onto the scene of historical viking fiction.

His name is Giles Kristian, who has proper viking hertitage running in his viens from his Norwegian Mother's side and his first book which has got great acclaim from Robert Low and the master of historical fiction Bernard Cornwell, is titled 'Raven: Blood Eye'.

So I got two great viking books when I only wanted one! Just shows how Vikings are making a HUGE come back onto the minds of us all and showing everyone that they're not just murdering raping raiders.

In honour of this fantastic surge on my favourite topic I am going to reveal my all time favourite and highly recommended books from this genre (although many people still debate whether it is a genre at all).

Author - Bernard Cornwell
Books - Saxon Stories (The Last Kingdom, The Pale Horseman, The Lords of the North, Sword Song and Burned Land)

Author - Tim Severin
Books - Viking Trilogy (Odinn's Child, Sworn Brother and Kings Man)

Author - Robert Low
Books - Oathsworn Series (The Whale Road, The Wolf Sea, The White Raven and The Prow Beast)

*Brand New* Author - Giles Kristian
Books - Raven Series (Raven: Blood Eye and Raven: Sons of Thunder)

But for those of you like me who like a bit of magic in our stories there is still some good viking themed ones out there. I recommend:

Author - Betsy Tobin
Book - Ice Land

Author - Joanne Harris
Book - Runemarks

Author - Neil Gaiman
Book - Odd and The Ice Giants

Hope you viking loving fans out there can get your hands on these books because they are truly brilliant at capturing the humanity, loyalty and bravery of the Vikings that society and education so often seems to glance over. Plus the fantasy ones weave norse mythology so well particularly Runemarks which is drenched in norse mythology although it's set in a fantasy world.

You can find links to most of these authors in my Creative Connections section if you would like more details on the books as well as availability. Just look under 'Valkyrian Sanctum Quarters' to the right.

Now as a writing is a craft any writer needs a set of tools. Besides the always needed pen and paper there are also 2 resources many published authors claim every writer should have:

I now have both! muwahahahaaha!
Millions of agents, writers, magazines, photographers and more are at my finger tips.
These two large blocks of contacts, guidance and advice are the strength and razor sharp edge behind every writers sword and shield.
I intend to use them a lot more for guidance and research whilst I continue to work on my Valkyrian Ventures which is looking more and more likely to become a novel (although how long I can't say.)

I must admitt whilst I was in Waterstones I was surprised by how the new genres of Dark Romance and Dark Fantasy had taken off. They now have whole sections full of books in that style.
It made me think where my own story would fit in if I ever get published. Thing is my story contains strong elements of fantasy but it is also similar to most books in Dark Fantasy (basically more modern gothic tales) in that it has mythical figures (from a proper religion mythology and the stereotypical myth of werewolves and vampires). So it kind of sits between them at present.
It is a tricky question every writer should ask themselves as they may not get published if they have no clear place on a booksellers shelf.

Speaking of Valkyrian Ventures I'm 2 pages in to Part 4 now titled 'Know Thy Enemy' and it is getting rather exciting from the start off.

So to get you interested and any regulars that have read Parts 1-3 here is a sneaky taste of what's to come in Part 4.

Hope you enjoy and do leave me any comments to let me know what you think. All criticism is greatly appreciated as long as its constructive.

There was a lot of movement occurring at Lendal Bridge landing and it wasn’t from the magpies which had now swooped down to perch on its railings. The movement was under the water. It was like a Kraken lay in the river bed thrashing, lashing and twisting. Churning and tossing the water with immense force. The spray didn’t seem to bother the magpies who fanned out their wings, perked up their tails and cried out even louder. After what felt like the build up to a volcanic eruption something small and white emerged from the bubbling froth of the river Ouse. It was a skull, a skull with horns, sharp teeth and red eyes. What at first I thought was its neck became longer, thicker and wider until it was clear what I was seeing was Hel’s personal longboat emerge from the Underworld, Nagilfar. It shone with equal brightness of the moon, for it was made of many millennia’s worth of toe nail clippings gathered from those dead and buried when their families had not done so.

“Look how she mimics the All-Father.” Geirölul whispered, pointing out the magpies now flying in circles over the longboat before settling beside a black shrouded figure sat upon a chair beneath a red pavilion deck. “Magpies doing a Ravens job. You’d think she would get enough gossip from her darklings. I reckon she does it just for performance.”

The mention of darklings, what we nicknamed dark elves who work for Hel, I felt my stomach tense as a flash of a thought popped into my head. Would Jake be with Hel? Is that why he hasn’t surfaced for six months since he led Kate into the trap that destroyed her?

It was then that I heard a new sound but a sound I was familiar with on a smaller scale. Now that the water was calm and the magpies were silent, the endless sighs, cries, moans and groans of tortured souls tainted my ears.


  1. This goes back some ways, but for me, nothing in modern (relatively) Viking-oriented fiction beats Frans G. Bengtsson's Röde Orm, elegantly translated into English under the title The Long Ships. Top notch!

    That said, I have to likewise recommend some of the (old, but still gold) "juvenile" or "young adult" Viking-oriented fiction by the likes of Rosemary Sutcliffe and Henry Treece: particularly RS's The Shield Ring (RS), and HT's Viking's Dawn/The Road to Miklagard/Viking's Sunset aka "The VIking Trilogy"), The Burning of Njal, The Last Viking, Swords from the North, The Horned Helmet, Vinland the Good, The Splintered Sword, Hounds of the King ... OK, that last one is Anglo-Saxon rather than specifically Viking, but it's darned close to being Viking! :)

    I did first read all those as an adolescent, but I still think they're great now. And Bengtsson's Röde Orm/The Long Ships is great for (reasonably advanced) younger readers, despite not being written for adults.

    For Viking-inspired (or at least medieval Iceland inspired) fantasy .... Hmm, I would pick the books of Elizabeth H. Boyer (like The Elves and the Otterskin, The Sword and the Satchel, The Thrall and the Dragon's Heart, The Wizard and the Warlord, the "Wizard's War" series .... Most of those were written in the '80s, I think, and are great stuff. They were, perhaps, so incredibly Scandinavian in tone that they never got the attention or fan base that the writing deserved -- but that wouldn't be a problem for those of us already gobbling up Viking-inspired historical fiction and fantasy. :)

  2. Argh, that should have read: " And Bengtsson's Röde Orm/The Long Ships is great for (reasonably advanced) younger readers, despite being written for adults."!

    Vikings need their coffee before they start posting blog comment, it seems .... ;)


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