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Forged in Ice – what inspired my new Viking Saga by Ken Hagan

 

Today I welcome Ken Hagan to tell us what inspired his new novel, the first in a Viking Trilogy.

Ken: My thanks to Deborah for inviting me as guest author. 

Forged in Ice is set in 27829574._UY500_SS500_960AD. It tells the story of a boy and his family who leave the Norse Kingdom to live in the sparsely populated colony of Iceland — risking their lives in a hazardous voyage across the Atlantic.

My interest in the Viking Age was first aroused during my university days in Dublin, a city steeped in Viking history. The Viking settlement, on which today’s city centre is built, has yielded significant archeological finds, including ankle-fetters and neck-irons that were fastened to slaves. The infamous slave trade centered on Viking Dublin will feature in the second book of the trilogy to be published later this year.   

Reading the Icelandic Family Sagas really got me hooked. In them I discovered a new dimension to the Viking Age. Here was humdrum family life, the struggle of men and women to survive in a hostile climate, petty disputes between neighbours that erupt into feuds, stories of fraud and double-dealing, but also feats of sporting prowess and courage, honest intentions, love and loyalty.

Women are strongly portrayed in the Sagas. We see to what lengths they will go to assert their rights, and what influence womenfolk have on the outcome of events. It is not hard to understand why some commentators have argued that women were the sources for many of the original spoken sagas.       

During 1990s I travelled on business to Sweden and Norway and, while there, I was able to expand my knowledge of Viking culture. Visits to sites of Viking graves revealed sophisticated spiritual constructs of the afterlife. And elsewhere, beautiful full-size replicas of longships demonstrated for me how truly advanced, by comparison with the rest of Europe, was the technology of Viking shipbuilding.

I am indebted to Professor Neil Price, Uppsala University for my understanding of the Viking mind, for my insights into the Viking view of the world, many of which I have tried to weave into the tapestry of my books. Dr. Price is Chair of Archeology at the University of Uppsala, Sweden. Neil.price@arkeologi.uu.se  His major work, The Viking Way: sub-titled – “Religion and War in later Iron-age Scandinavia” (ISBN 978184217265) is regarded as an authoritative source of material and provides rare insights in the field of Viking research.

FORGED IN ICE is published by Endeavour Press.

Buy the Book – Amazon.co.uk  Amazon.com

Where to find Ken: Website Twitter Facebook

Thanks to Ken for stopping by my blog.

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The Intended by Sten Eirik

 

When King Gustav was a boy, all his French tutors were dismissed and taken away. New ones were appointed, true Swedes who would teach him respect for the common man and shield him from the follies of divine right. Voltaire thought of Sweden as the freest nation in the world. And Rousseau looked to the Swedes for a paragon of democracy. To him, the education of a child was a political matter. But King Gustav had a soft spot for French culture and soon established French as a second official language.

 

In the West Indies, meanwhile, the island of St. Barth was unremarkable and easily overlooked in the plethora of profitable colonies. From the royal thrones of Europe, St. Barth appeared merely as a speck overshadowed by Antigua and Martinique, Barbados and Guadeloupe, from whence came the cotton, tobacco and sugar cane. After the Seven Years’ War, King Louis XV was content to give away the whole of Canada if he could keep his darling Indies. By the 1780’s, having an island in the Indies was simply comme il faut. Everyone ought to have one.

 

But King Gustav of Sweden was without. He had learned that national wealth was no longer a matter of military might alone, but depended also on trade routes and natural commodities. The Swedes had been ogling the island of Tobago but it wasn’t to be. Tobago was the only redeeming piece from France’s settlement with England, so King Louis was not about to part with it. King Gustav, therefore, must settle for this obscure jut of rock named St. Barth and he decreed that a town be erected forthwith and bearing his name. In 1785, the Swedes opened the port of Gustavia to free trade.

 

By the 1780’s, there was a revolt brewing in Sweden – not as in Paris, fuelled by the masses, but rather by a stealthy elite made up of those with whom King Gustav’s governance had fallen out of favour. The King had taxed the aristocracy quite heavily in order to finance his campaign against Russia. Some said the King was a war monger who wanted to outshine his legendary predecessor Karl XII and restore the national glory of the Karolin troops. He was also a champion of culture and beaux arts, turning vikings into fops in the opinion of some. Among the conspirators against the royal throne was Carl Fredrik Pechlin, a baron who had long been one of the King’s chief antagonists in parliament. Pechlin sowed the seeds of insurrection, at his dinners, his firesides, his political salons. He had circulated copies of Thomas Paine’s incendiary political writings. The night before the King’s annual masque at the Royal Opera, the conspirators assembled at Pechlin’s house to fine-tune their plan for the assassination. The following day – March 16, 1792 – King Gustav was shot at close range while greeting his guests at the royal costume ball. But he didn’t die until some time had passed, and a few conspirators fled the country. That’s where my novel begins.

Published by Top Hat Publishing