Beautiful headletter from a medieval Icelandic manuscript.


Behold the oldest recorded Scandinavian song, found in a Danish manuscript dated 1300 CE. 

This song is a medieval Scandinavian staple, but only in abbreviated form— i.e., the first two lines. This video is priceless for performing the entire piece (even using a frame drum!)

 

Here is a translation of the lyrics:

I Dreamed a Dream

 

I dreamed a dream last night

of silk and costly furs.

Of pillows soft and deep,

of peace and rest unbroken.

 

And in my dream I saw,

as through a grimy window,

all wretched humankind pass by,

a different fear on every face.

 

The number of their terrors grew

as did the remedies sought.

Yet oft the answer is heavier to bear, .

though the question may burn hot.

 

 

I could sleep well nonetheless

and thought it was surely best

to slumber in soft, costly furs

and forget about all the rest.

 

Peace- if ever it's to be found-

is where man and woe are not;

Where one can wall oneself away

And dream of silk and furs.

"Dreaming of costly furs and silk" is a way of saying, dreaming of equality and justice. No more class distinctions and corrupt establishment.


I am proud to announce that my second book is now available for pre-order!

 

The Vow (Book 2 of Oddny Einarsdottir)

 

First and foremost, Oddny Einarsdottir is a series about women.  So many of the Viking novels I run into are focused on men, warfare, feuds and just the male world in general. None of them feature a heroine, an average, relatable woman living a woman's life and experiencing the Northern world from a woman's unique perspective. I wanted to examine this overlooked aspect and the timeless plight of women as well—hence the theme of bondage, something so many captive women in our world endure. 

 

This is not your average Viking book!



Due for release September 17, 2024


From The Vow—unedited

 

They had to wait several more days until Guthfinna came to round them up. She looked so stately and ominous in her seer’s garb, girt with a mushroom-studded belt and wielding a smooth, black magic staff in hand. On her shoulder gleamed a great, flat, graven brooch, clasping fast her fur-lined mantle. Her eyes shone, dilated and depthless as the sky, under her neatly wrapped headdress.

Oddny scrambled up from the deal floor the moment the woman beckoned them from the doorway. She threw on her cloak and flipped the deep hood over her head. Filed into the courtyard behind Hallgrimr and an awestruck Sigurlithi. Herdis already waited outside with the sibyl, a stout pine torch in hand. The light sparkled on the frosty soil. By the gate, Áslakr collected the horses from a company of dismounting maids. Oddny wondered at first to see them. But then, counting them, she remembered that Guthfinna must have sent for them from around the neighborhood. She would need nine maids for her magic—counting out pregnant Oddny and allowing Herdis to stay and mind the hearth. Not that the latter minded much being thus left out. Oddny noticed with amusement the goggle-eyed apprehension in the servant’s guileless face.

Guthfinna started off ahead of them, leaving Áslákr to collect the torch and guide the girls round the cliff behind the farmstead. Oddny shuddered as she hurried along. The roaring of the falls sounded hollow in the cold gloaming.

At last, Guthfinna drew them to a halt. Looking about, Oddny could still discern the surrounding forest—a grove of oaks, some mighty, ancient patriarchs of formidable girth; others younger, barely an ell about the bole. Behind a disheveled hedge of what must have been hazel, she glimpsed the river rushing. Áslakr brandished his torch aloft then. The fireglow rippled snakelike over the face of the water. Oddny turned to find the sibyl settling down for her trance. In the midst of the trees, the ground reared slightly. The crest of this mound was molded into a sort of shallow throne. Over this seat, Guthfinna spread a mantle of auspicious length before sitting down, cross-legged for comfort.

“Kindle the lights, Áslakr,” she instructed softly. “Go guard our guest at the edge of the clearing, no nearer. Maidens, come hither; I am ready for your aid.”

Oddny watched as the boy drove the torch into the ground some ways’ from his mother. Then, with his knife, he sliced four sturdy hazel wands which he kindled from the first light and staked around the hallowed seat in a square. The crowd of girls shifted restlessly nearby. But only once the boy had ducked into the hazel copse did they approach Guthfinna and join hands in a ring. For a second, they kept silence. Then, one by one, voices low, they took up a mystic chant.

Oddny burrowed into her cloak to stifle the eerie tingle in her spine. She could almost perceive the faintest rush of air pass by her, as of some spirits flocking to the call. Suddenly, she felt someone brush up against her shoulder. She would have screamed had they not clapped a hand over her mouth. It was Áslakr. He scowled at her, a reproachful finger at his lips. Embarrassed, she shrank aside. He took her hand and waited next to her.

The girls sang and sang. Then Guthfinna stirred and broke the spell besotting the place. Oddny shook her head, as if to clear it of some fell dream. She watched anxiously as the sibyl rose and folded the mantle on the ground. A weak mist was rising, and in it the torches shone like haloed globes.

“You sang most beautifully and skillfully,” the sibyl said, straightening in the glow. “I thank you for your aid tonight. Many spirits were thus lured hither that might otherwise have spurned my request. I have learned much from them—they showed me many things both good and ill.”

“There were good tidings, then?” asked one of the girls, hope in her hungry, dark-ringed eyes. Oddny sidled nearer, after Áslakr.

“Aye, that evil we spoke of earlier, Guthfinna—that may yet be avoided?”

Guthfinna shook her head. “Say nothing here,” she enjoined them. Oddny felt the blood drain from her face. Her head swam.

“Is the burden so heavy, then—so ill?” she cried. Guthfinna hushed her sternly as she passed by, leaving Oddny crestfallen.

“Silence! Say nothing here.”

They trekked back to the houses. Only once they were all indoors—for the girls were to sleep over—did Guthfinna speak and set them at ease. Herdis had a whole vat of hot gruel waiting for them, and every bedding space on the farm laid out. The sibyl suggested now they all sit down and eat before they slept.

Oddny accepted the invitation numbly, shedding her outer clothes piecemeal and climbing into bed. Her heart brimmed with despair. The drink tasted flat and bitter and she passed the ale bowl on without regret. She marveled at her fellows’ eager appetites, her own stomach twisted in a knot. The others exchanged a few words, but she took no interest, arms wrapped round her belly as she stared into the fire.

The sibyl spoke up...


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"Viking" Women

I just saw on Facebook today an article on how Viking women have been misrepresented as housekeepers etc. and neglected in literature. While I agree with the last point, I'd like to mention the fact that women did feature in sagas and poems, and not just as the trope warrior maiden. Take Auður in Gísla saga or Guðrún in Laxdæla saga - the whole book revolves around her and her love life. But the reason imo that women didn't feature as frequently is based more on what people expected of literature in the Middle Ages when these sagas were written. People wanted to hear about towering feuds, family crises, and fighting warriors, not about the kind of "quiet" action that would define most women's lives. I say quiet, as women's stories were not generally considered interesting or exciting enough to the general populace. There was no concept of a novel, nor of writing about day to day life. It was all about preserving or embellishing events. You don't hear about the cotter in the woods, either. But I do agree, there is an overall sexist bias there.

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What's In a Name?

Well to me, a lot. I am the kind of person who appreciates being exposed to a variety of different names from different cultures, and I prefer to see them transliterated as accurately as possible. If the two languages are compatible in terms of sounds etc, why not show the name as it is instead of anglicize it needlessly. For example, drawing from my book, why show Vermund when I could write Vermundr? We don't write Juli for Julius or Drus for Drusus, why? Because we're familiar with Latin names. 

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Gwawl Excerpt

I´m excited to announce that my Welsh myth, The Tale of Gwawl, Son of LLwybyr, should be released May 2024. Here´s a little sneak peek for you - I'm hoping I captured some of the vagueness, humor, and general vibe of the Mabinogi.

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What next?

So, I have finally come to the end of The Vow, the second and last part of Oddný Einarsdóttir. It's so hard to let go of characters that you have worked with intensively for six years! I can't envision writing anything that doesn't feature them. Still, I have to write something, I feel the urge, and I'm wondering what to pick up next (I always have a handful of ideas/projects going at the same time). There is my fantasy series, The Isle of The Mighty, which is a reconstruction of the four main stories of the Mabinogi in that I hope to create a version of the tale that may possibly have existed. Tales back then were pretty fluid, and while adhering to the same main plot etc., they could have many different versions. Hence the frequent confusion and vagueness of the fragments we have left today. I intend this series for a general audience but particularly for fantasy-loving young people, as I want to make the magic and treasure of the Mabinogi more accessible to modern kids - something they would never otherwise give time of day. 

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News Interview

An article from Morgunblaðið (the Icelandic morning paper) back in 2021, highlighting my knowledge of Icelandic language/history and the tapestry I created:)

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Reviews Needed

Hi, just alerting everyone that I'm currently seeking reviewers for my book. Here is the link if you're interested in leaving some honest feedback:

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Ebook Giveaway!

Anybody want some free reading this winter? In exchange for signing up for my email newsletter, I'll send you a free ebook copy of The Sword. Don't miss out:)

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March Release

I was hoping to get my Tale of Gwawl out on March 25, but due to some unforeseen health concerns I will have to delay the big day till May 25-- same date, just two months later.

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Newsletter

I'm still planning to launch a monthly newsletter, for updates and perhaps an interesting fact or anecdote from ancient Norwegian history. Don't hesitate to sign up!

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5 Stars!

I've just received a 5-star rating for The Sword from Readers' Favorite. I'm still in disbelief! Talk about encouragement to keep on  writing.

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Welcome to the Viking Age, 957 C.E.

A THOUSAND YEARS ago,  there was more to Norway than Netflix would have you believe. There were real people, apart from the pirates, and they led raw, real lives. Some were nobles bedecked with gold, governing districts from their sprawling estates. Others were ordinary thanes, landowners small and great, tilling the earth and minding their own business. There were outlaws in the wilderness, merchants, fishers, poets, salt burners, and slaves. Many would never sail the seas, apart from rowing from fjord to fjord for business or visits. And of course, there were the professional Viking leagues, the underworld of ancient Norwegian society, with their cutthroat sea-kings.

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