Reading the Runes is near to our hearts here in Sorchia’s Universe–I wrote a whole book about it (Zoraida Grey and the Pictish Runes) so when fellow-author and Divinator Extraordinaire Laura Strickland told me about her new book The Shaman’s Bride, I had to get her into Novel Magic. Below, she tells a bit about Viking Runes–Where they come from–What they mean–and How they might influence the life of Lodvar Haraldsson.
Watch for a Sorchia Review of The Shaman’s Bride–Coming Soon!
Love Among the Runes
by Laura Strickland
Lodvar Haraldsson—the hero of my newest Viking Historical Romance, The Shaman’s Bride—was born a slave. As the son of a Celtic captive and the seneschal of a Norse jarl, he begins life with few advantages. Somewhat to his surprise the gods disregard this and bestow upon him many magical gifts, including the ability to read runes.
In Lodvar’s world, magic is woven through day-to-day life.
This is remarkable considering that in many ways the Vikings were practical, hard-nosed businessmen. Yes, they were also warriors, raiders and plunderers, but the reasons behind their actions likely weren’t what most folks ascribe. They may have enjoyed a good, victorious slaughter as much as the next pagan, but I doubt they battled for the sake of it. The truth is, their home lands were difficult to farm, the growing season was short, and they needed to feed their families. They chose to do it via the longship and the sword.
To understand how such a juxtaposition of magic and competence might have evolved, we have to understand how the Norse people saw themselves. Their world consisted of many realms, held in the branches of a great ash tree called Yggdrasill. Each and every realm contained its own magic. Asgard was the home of the gods, Jotunheim the realm of giants. We humans inhabited Midgard which roughly equates what Tolkien called “Middle Earth”. In the Viking world, men and women rubbed elbows with higher beings and in many ways didn’t consider themselves inferior to them. The gods tended to come and go, and might be encountered in Midgard at any time. The All Father himself, Odin, roamed the world disguised as a simple wanderer. In short, you just never knew when you might encounter—or need—magic.
A Shaman’s rune stones were personal and sacred.
He usually made them himself, carving the symbols following deep trance or prayer. When he finished them, he anointed them in his own blood. This gave the Shaman a path of direct communication with the gods. And the Norse took this seriously. So even if Lodvar’s superiors secretly (or not so secretly) deride him for his low origins, they’re not about to embark upon an important voyage without him.
Yet Lodvar has his own agenda. For as long as he can remember, there’s been a voice whispering in his heart—that of a woman. She calls to him, bidding him pledge himself to her unseen. If that means he has to join the twisted schemes of the jarl he distrusts and set sail on a perilous voyage, that’s what he’ll do. But before he goes searching for his one love, you may be very sure he’ll consult the runes.
Daughter of a Viking berserker and a Celtic slave, Gyda Tolljursdottir is part warrior and part Seer. When her Sight gives warning of darkness and danger coming from the sea, she vows to defend her Faroe Island home, whatever it takes.
Norse shaman, Lodvar Haraldsson has come from Iceland seeking his destiny, and the woman who has long whispered to his heart. Though he neither trusts nor respects the jarl he follows, he’ll trade far more than his conscience to find her. When old hatreds flare, can their love endure? Will Lodvar choose to make the ultimate sacrifice for Gyda’s sake?
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A Tiny Taste of The Shaman’s Bride by Laura Strickland
A curse escaped her lips and the person with whom she’d collided gave a grunt. His hands caught at her, closing on her arms in a steadying grip, and keeping her from falling down.
For an instant they stood so, tightly linked, Gyda half blinded by the dark of the hut. She felt—
A hard rush of emotions, like a punch to the gut. Warmth came first, stealing through his fingers, quickly followed by a tumble of images. The fall of light on water. The glowing coals of a near-dead fire, a heap of furs upon which two bodies lay, locked in passion. Blood, blood and more blood.
She stumbled back through the doorway into the sunlight, away from the images—away from him. He came with her, his fingers still wrapped around her arms, and the clear light washed over them.
“Mistress Gyda, are you all right?”
The shaman. It was Gunnar’s shaman—Lodvar. Gyda narrowed her eyes against the glare and regarded him. The emotions connected to those images continued to assault her, making it difficult to think clearly.
He felt the way music sounded—the way the notes vibrated from Modir’s harp when she played, or when the women sang all together while at work on the shore. Beautiful, harmonious, powerful yet oddly still. All these things did she feel from him, combined with a flare of attraction, so fierce and lustful, it stole her breath away, and knocked her back on her heels. p>
Meet Laura Strickland
Multi award-winning author Laura Strickland delights in time traveling to the past and searching out settings for her books, be they Historical Romance, Steampunk or something in between. Her first Scottish Historical hero, Devil Black, battled his way onto the publishing scene in 2013, and the author never looked back. Nor has she tapped the limits of her imagination. Venturing beyond Historical and Contemporary Romance, she created a new world with her ground-breaking Buffalo Steampunk Adventure series set in her native city, in Western New York.
Married and the parent of one grown daughter, Laura has also been privileged to mother a number of very special rescue dogs, the latest of whom is a little boy named Tinker, and is intensely interested in animal welfare. Her love of dogs, and her lifelong interest in Celtic history, magic and music, are all reflected in her writing. Laura’s mantra is Lore, Legend, Love, and she wouldn’t have it any other way.