Brown will present this “spectacular” Northshire Staff Pick which lays to rest the hoary myth that Viking society was ruled by men and celebrates the dramatic lives of female Viking warriors. For this Northshire virtual event, she will appear in conversation with Linnea Hartsuyker, author of the Golden Wolf Saga, a trilogy that conjures the ancient world with gripping detail, thrilling action, and vivid historical elements.
In the tradition of Stacy Schiff’s Cleopatra, Brown lays to rest the hoary myth that Viking society was ruled by men and celebrates the dramatic lives of female Viking warriors
"This book is spectacular. Brown's ability to analyze and cull fact from myth and sometimes outright fiction from original sources as well as early and contemporary scholarship (such as gender analysis through DNA research) is astounding. What Brown brings to the reader is a colorful and insightful exploration of the varied lives of women in the Northlands. These women could walk 25 miles a day to weave cloth, run a farm, community, business, and wield a sword. Brown's gift is her own ability to tell a great story and not lose sight of facts. She is a true Skald-History Keeper." Reviewed by Maeve Noonan
In 2017, DNA tests revealed to the collective shock of many scholars that a Viking warrior in a high-status grave in Birka, Sweden was actually a woman. The Real Valkyrie weaves together archaeology, history, and literature to imagine her life and times, showing that Viking women had more power and agency than historians have imagined.
Nancy Marie Brown uses science to link the Birka warrior, whom she names Hervor, to Viking trading towns and to their great trade route east to Byzantium and beyond. She imagines her life intersecting with larger-than-life but real women, including Queen Gunnhild Mother-of-Kings, the Viking leader known as The Red Girl, and Queen Olga of Kyiv. Hervor’s short, dramatic life shows that much of what we have taken as truth about women in the Viking Age is based not on data, but on nineteenth-century Victorian biases. Rather than holding the household keys, Viking women in history, law, saga, poetry, and myth carry weapons. These women brag, “As heroes we were widely known—with keen spears we cut blood from bone.” In this compelling narrative Brown brings the world of those valkyries and shield-maids to vivid life.
Nancy Marie Brown is the author of highly praised books of nonfiction, including Song of the Vikings. She is fluent in Icelandic and spends her summers in Iceland. She has deep ties to the Scandinavian cultural institutions in the U.S. Brown lives in East Burke, Vermont.
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