When I had the chance to return to writing Vikings, I jumped at it. Actually I lobbied quite hard for the chance after seeing the first season of Game of Thrones. I was allowed to do my Viking, but then I did another Victorian and The Powers that Be decided to put out the Victorian An Ideal Husband? before the Viking as I was going to be doing Vikings for Harlequin Historical for awhile.
It has been gratifying to see that there is now the Viking televisions series which has been renewed for a second season and in March 2014 the British Museum will be staging the largest Viking exhibition for over 30 years. There is a lot more to the Vikings than rape, pillage and violence. They were the last significant pagan society in mainland Europe. They also fundamentally changed Europe, particularly England. Many of the place names in Yorkshire and East Anglia come from Old Norse rather than from Anglo Saxon or Latin. It is easy to forget how much of France is settled by Vikings.The Normans, of course were descendants of the Vikings and brought some of their culture with them when they conquered England. Of course, Sicily was conquered by Normans.
When I started writing, I knew I wanted to move away from Viken, Norway where I had set my earlier books. So I started researching and discovered that in 876, Halfdan, the new king of Jorvik and one of three leaders of the Great Heathen Horde settles his men on the captured land.It is why Yorkshire was traditionally divided into ridings as it was Norse way of administration, rather than an Anglo Saxon method.
No one quite knows why he did this. Previously he had been fighting more to the south against Wessex with his brother Guthram. It is quite possible that there was an unspecified disturbance. About this time the kingdon of Northumbria is also divided into Jorvik and the client kingdom of Bernicia which is basically the modern day counties of Durham and Northumberland. By 878 Halfdan is dead and the kingship of Jorvik is unsettled.
Interestingly further south, Guthram without his older brother's help suddenly has trouble with King Alfred and loses at Edington. It is generally portrayed as a great Anglo Saxon victory (which it was) but how much of it depended on the Vikings' own internal politics is lost to time. It does surprise me that commentators do not remark on the Viking's political reality, preferring to concentrate on the truth as the Anglo Saxon Chroniclers saw it.
What is interesting though is that within a generation or two of settling in a Christian land, the Vikings did give up their pagan ways. You can tell this by the change in burial custom as well as the addition of Christian forenames to Viking surnames. Also the Christian church made it easy. Many aspects of a traditional English Christmas find their origin in the Viking Jule celebration. The Dark Ages are considered dark because there is little written word. However, the past can be uncovered if one is willing to search for it.
firstname.lastname@example.org :: What is the first action Brand Bjornson takes in the book? (hint read the excerpt). Please put Totebags contest in the subject line as I do get a lot of spam. I will draw the winner on 22 October.
By the way, the cover model for Paying the Viking's Price is Taylor David. I think he makes a very yummy Viking.
The blurb reads like this:
ORDERED TO THE VIKING'S BED!
Feared warrior Brand Bjornson has finally got what he's striven for—lands of
his own, granted to him by his king. But his new estate, Breckon, holds more
than a few surprises—not least the intriguingly beautiful Edith, former Lady of
Proud Edith refuses to abandon her lands to the mercy of Viking invaders, and
impressed by her courage, Brand agrees she can stay. He has one condition—that
she should become his concubine!