BLADE HONER is a novel series that tells the fictional story of the historical woman who, aged between 45 and 55, was buried together with an older woman in a magnificent ship filled with cultic items at the mound of Oseberg in Vestfold, Norway, in 834 A.D. The burial is the most splendid and rich burial ever found from the Viking Age, and it has been suggested that the women were priestesses or in some way connected to a religious cult. The two women were the contemporaries of Charlemagne, Empress Irene and Harun al-Rashid. They were also contemporaries of the historical person behind the legendary Ragnarr Lódbrok, now famous for being described in the TV-series “Vikings”, and of Halfdan Svarti, the last Ynglinga king in Vestfold, and father of the man who was to unite the many tribes of Norway; Harald Hárfagri.
After reading a thesis by Gunhild Røthe, my mentor at the University of Oslo back in 2003-2004, on the Oseberg burial in 834 A.D. and its many similarities to a ship burial decribed ninety years later by Ibn Fadlan, witnessed by himself in 921 A.D. when he came as an ambassador of the Caliphate and had the opportunity to observe the strange customs of Rus Vikings, I decided to restore the early Rus Vikings to cultural memory by concentrating the first four books in the series on their culture and way of life.
In BLADE HONER, the Oseberg priestess-to-be is called Thordís the Thunder priestess, descended from an ancient lineage of Thunder priests in Gautland (Götaland, Sweden). It is a lineage that traces its origin to the “Age of the Stone Temples” – the Megalithic era in Scandinavia with passage graves, dolmens and other Megalithic monuments, mostly found in Denmark and southern Sweden (Götaland).
The Viking Age
The two women would have witnessed the very start of the Viking Age.
We know so little of that era! We do know a lot about Vikings of the 10th, 11th and 12th century, people who had already been exposed to the outside world for centuries. What about the Norsemen who lived and who had not yet become Vikings during the late 8th or 9th century?
We know hardly anything – but we do know that the centuries to come would bring about great changes and that the people who lived in Norse communities before that age really got started, were deeply Heathen and considered true barbarians by the surrounding world. They were closer to the Iron Age tribal communities known to ancient Romans than to later saga-characters from Iceland.
Oseberg and Aldeigjuborg
The story of Thordís began as a project on the Oseberg burial, where two ladies of high standing were buried in a ship that seems particularly constructed for women and crammed with objects that appear to have a religious significance. This happened in 834 AD, and the youngest woman was between 40 and 60 when she died. Seeing as the “Viking Age” (in the west) officially begun with the Lindisfarne raid in 793 AD, she must have been a young girl when this new era began.
There has been a deal of speculation as to the origin of the two women who received the most splendid burial ever found from the Viking Age. DNA has shown that one or both of them may have had some Eastern European ancestry, but it is possible that this DNA has been polluted, so nobody really knows. But with this as a starting point I found myself suddenly in the forest marshlands and river lands of the 8th century Baltic countries, where Vikings from Sweden had just begun to dig their pirate claws into the territory that was to become known as Rus-land.
And there I found the girl-child Thordís and one great story of survival and cunning in the terrifying world of the Viking Rus…
Her childhood in Rusiyah was supposed to cover one book only, but it grew in proportions as I began digging into life in Aldeigjuborg, the first Viking settlement in Russia, close to modern St. Petersburg. A slavers´ town, a pirate town – what might life have been like for a little girl growing up in a place like that? And the life of Thordís must of course involve a lot of other people – What could it have been like for a free-born young woman to be taken as a slave to these people? What could it have been like for a civilized and highly educated man to suddenly find himself the slave of barbarians? What might life have been like for their neighbors, and for their slaves? And last but not the least, what could life have been like for these early Rus-men who actually lived out their lives in exile, as lawless men and pirates? What could it have been like for those boys who actually grew up there?
Ah, I have had a great time getting into all that. And as I wrote and wrote and wrote the story of Thordís and her retinue, I discovered that the first parts of the story had another purpose of their own: That of describing the raising and the training of a proper Blade Honer… and to find out what that is you have to sort of read the books. Beginning with the first one: “The Hammer of Greatness”