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Many things attracted me to Vikings. I’ve been in love with history for ever. As a highly imaginative child, prone to telling tall tales, reading and writing came naturally. Of course what I read and wrote is another story. It started with sneaking peeks at my eldest brother’s collection of Conan the Barbarian comic books and developed into a full blown obsession with heroes. What’s more compelling than a warrior’s tale? Combine romance, action, and a touch of mysticism and I’m hooked—in a big way.
Lacking any central authority during the early raids, Norsemen seized this opportunity and often returned from pillaging in glory and wealthier than they ever dreamed. Commoners became princes, men of reputation and honor. That’s where I draw inspiration. All Vikings sought one common end—a seat at Odin’s table in Valhalla.
Imagining the glories of Asgard, the heavenly realm where Odin and his children lived, made it easy to develop my latest hero, Tyr Sigurdsson (Blind Mercy). Tyr might appear the typical Alpha at first glance, but he’s not. Born in Scotland, he chooses to return to his Norse roots and follow in his father’s footsteps. Life would have been so much easier in Scotland.
Tyr differs greatly from his siblings. He’s not a Christian. Odin speaks to his heart; and so does the temptation to be a true warrior.
Blind Mercy offers a glimpse into the turbulent life of a Viking who gives his heart to a woman he’s not supposed to love.
Blind Mercy opens up at the Battle of Stamford Bridge (September 1066), the moment some scholars consider the end of the Viking age. However, it’s widely accepted that this battle simply forced the Vikings to reinvent themselves. Two of my favorite historians (Somerville and McDonald) say it best, it might be more useful to think in terms of several Viking Ages rather than a single Viking Age. They base this observation on Scandinavian roots and history. Where the Vikings settled and how their culture took hold in different countries.
Here’s a quick overview of the battle (Britain Express)…
When Edward the Confessor died he left no direct heir, and the throne of England passed to Harold of Wessex. Harold's brother Tostig influenced the legendary Viking warrior, King Harald Hardrada of Norway to invade England.
While a second claimant to the throne of England, William of Normandy, labored to launch his own invasion fleet, the Norwegians sailed by way of the Orkneys and landed at Riccall, near York with a force probably numbering 10,000 men.
Harold had been well aware of the dual threats to his new kingdom, and he called out his levies. These were free men from the shires who owed two months of military service each year. By September the two months were up and rations were low, so Harold reluctantly released these irregular troops. This left him with a trained force of about 3,000 mounted infantry known as house-carls. When the news came of the Norwegian landing, Harold quickly marched his men north by the old Roman road known as Watling Street.
The Earls of Northumbria and Mercia, Morcar, and Edwin, advanced their men from York and met Harald Hardrada at Fulford on September 20. The experienced Norwegian commander completely routed the earls, depriving King Harold of valuable allies for the fatal battle with the Normans which lay ahead.
The Norsemen appointed Stamford Bridge as a meeting place for an exchange of hostages with the city of York. The confident victors of Fulford were relaxing in the meadows surrounding this crossroads 12 miles from York when to their shock they saw a fresh Saxon army streaming up from the South.
Well, perhaps "fresh" is too strong a word, for Harold had just pushed his men an amazing 180 miles in 4 days, and they were doubtless exhausted. The Norsemen were caught completely off-guard; most had discarded their mail shirts and helmets in the hot sun. They were soon to pay for their carelessness.
Unfortunately, this war cost the Norwegians dearly. With their sovereign dead, command of Norway was split between his two sons, Magnus and Olaf. But we’ll save that for another tale!
by Violetta Rand
The Sigurdsson family legacy continues…
A woman who prayed for a hero…
Orphaned at a young age, Rachelle Fiennes prayed for a hero to rescue her from her tragic life in England. When her only kinsman goes missing after the Battle of Stamford Bridge, Rachelle braves the aftermath of the battlefield to find him.
A man who lost everything…
Damned by the gods for surviving the bloodiest defeat in Norse history, Jarl Tyr Sigurdsson is still determined to get home. Hiding until nightfall so he can escape to his ship, his dangerous endeavor is disrupted when he’s accidently discovered by a beautiful Saxon.
Brought together by war, Rachelle and Tyr face many obstacles. Can sworn enemies find peace through love, or will fate be cruel?
Since the first day they’d met, Tyr had been embroiled in strife and violence. Standing in this holy place, he seemed vulnerable, almost normal. Only once before had she seen this level of tenderheartedness in him. The degree of compassion he showed his deceased brother when he prepared him for funeral rites still haunted her. Of course, what man wouldn’t be moved by such tragedy? This was decidedly different. Baffled by this transformation, she watched him closely.
“I thank you for this kindness.”
He embraced her. The motivation behind his touch had changed, she felt it.
“I swear on this holy ground, I’ll never hurt you again,” he said.
He’d pledged it before. Could she be foolish enough to believe again? Didn’t he understand she couldn’t get past the fact he was holding her for ransom? Could she ever really forgive him for deceiving and shaming her? Caution did little to help her cause. Jolts of lust shot through her. It felt wonderful to be touched by him; but as welcome as those feelings were, they must stay hidden forever.
“I want to believe you,” she said.
He tipped her head upward. “I make no promises I can’t keep,” he assured her. “If there’s anything I can do to ease your pain, ask me.”
She remained silent. Somewhere in the recesses of her mind, a place existed where happy thoughts thrived. She pictured how it would be if he dropped on his knees and declared his love. All of this was quickly swept aside.
“I’ll leave you now,” he announced. “My men are aware of your situation and will not disturb your observances. When you are ready, they will escort you back to the house.”
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Violetta Rand holds a bachelor's degree in Environmental Policy and a master's degree in Environmental Management. Serving as an environmental scientist in the state of Alaska for over seven years, she enjoys the privilege of traveling to remote places few people have the opportunity to see.
Violetta has been "in love" with writing since childhood. Struck with an entrepreneurial spirit at a young age, at five, she wrote short stories illustrated by her best friend and sold them in her neighborhood. The only thing she loves more than writing is her wonderful relationship with her husband, Jeff. She enjoys outdoor activities, reading whatever she can get her hands on, music, and losing herself in the ancient worlds she enjoys bringing to life in the pages of her stories.
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