Dear readers, tonight with me is a young viking woman, the rightful heir to her father’s kindgom.
Her rival Haraldur seeks to slay her to secure his right to the throne. She is here to tell us about her life as an outlaw, and of the Viking-Fantasy world of Midhgardhur.
Tell us a little about where you grew up. What was it like there?
When I was very little, I lived in the Kingdom of Vestfold with my father, a jarl under King Halfdanur the Black. I lived in a long hall overlooking the Great Bay where the longships sailed. My memories of childhood in Vestfold are mostly happy ones, but hazy. When I was just five years old, King Halfdanur died, and my father was elected to be the new king. The day of the konungstekja, the coronation, was the day my world ended – Halfdanur’s son Haraldur attacked without warning, killed my father, and took the crown for himself. I was smuggled to safety across the narrow sea by my father’s loyal retainers, and raised in exile at Ketilsstadhir on the island of Jutey. I guess I really grew up there. I was bitter, and wanted revenge upon King Haraldur for killing my father.
Did you have any cherished memories from childhood?
My favorite memory from childhood is probably my combat training with Hjalti, my father’s most trusted retainer, the one watching over me the day of Haraldur’s attack. The one who took me to safety. Hjalti taught me the ways of the sword; he taught me to be a shieldmaiden. I loved training with him. He trained me out of loyalty to my father, and love for me – he wanted me to be able to protect myself. He did not go easy on me. He raised me to be a good fighter. I loved the exercise, loved to feel my body grow strong as I grew up. And it made me feel like someday I would do something about the wrongs done to me and my people.
What do you do now?
I have vowed to free the North from the grip of King Haraldur, who styles himself Einkonungur – the “One King,” the “Emperor of the North.” That is what I do, now. I fight an endless war to liberate the lands of the North from the tyrant Haraldur!
What can you tell us about your latest adventure?
The first step in freeing the North from Haraldur is to free the islands in the west to which free folk who were able fled. Haraldur’s forces are not merely human, either. He has a terrible serpent, a dragon, who fights alongside his armies. Queen Gydha, Haraldur’s wife, is reputed to be a witch as well, and not entirely human. I need to raise armies and stir the folk to fight for the freedom, and find weapons and allies capable of defeating dark magic and dragons.
What did you first think when you first began your quest to liberate the North?
The day my father was killed, I wanted revenge. Really, I wanted my father back, but I knew even at five winters that it is the doom of all mortal men to die. I thought I would get help, raise and army, and return home to Vestfold with my army to crush Haraldur’s forces and slay the usurper. But my foster-father was wise. He didn’t want me rushing off to war. He made sure I did some growing up first. For that, I am grateful. As I grew up, I realized personal revenge was not the point. I was not the only one who suffered – all of my people suffered under King Haraldur. It became about justice for them, not just killing the man who wronged me. I never would have believed that when I left home.
What was the scariest thing in your adventures?
The scariest thing I ever faced was Haraldur’s dragon ally, the great wyrm known as Agyrtualinn. I have faced draugar (the walking dead), armies, duels of honor, and even King Haraldur himself, but nothing frightened me like that dragon. Dragons seem to give off an aura of terror, called ormotti (“dragonfear”) or aegishjalmur (“the helm of awe”), but I was magically protected from this supernatural fear when I faced Agyrtualinn. And yet – the dragon was frightening!
What is the worst thing about living your oath to bring King Haraldur to justice?
The worst thing is the feeling that my war will never end. I have fought battles, defeated armies, liberated many lands, and yet still the usurper lives and oppresses my people! Will I ever truly fulfill my oath to restore justice to the North?
What is the best thing about it?
There is a certain satisfaction with knowing that you are on the side of good. The side of justice. The side of the people. And, as Hrefna assures me, the side of the gods. My own patron, the god Vali, lord of righteous retribution, has granted me strength and endurance beyond that of normal mortals. But really, the best feeling in the world is seeing oppressed people freed, electing their rulers again, as it was meant to be. Liberty must be the greatest of the blessings of the gods.
Tell us a little about your friends.
Three of my father’s retainers saved me when I was a little girl: Loyal Hjalti, the man-at-arms. Hearty Steinthorr, the barbarian. Stealthy Bjornulfur, the huntsman and ranger. They took me to Ketill Falkason, who became my foster-father, and his daughter Hrefna, my sister in so many ways, who became a gydhja, a priestess of the gods. We had help from a mysterious runecaster named Hrafn (who has become one of my most trusted allies), and an elderly oracle named Freydis, who became the mother I never had, in a way. Mt friends are the family I never really had.
Any romantic involvement?
Well, there is a certain man, Eysteinn Glumra, who (I think) cares for me as much as I for him – but I am fighting a war to avenge my father and my people. How can I ask a man to love me? How can I ever find time for that? But some part of me dares to hope, that someday . . . Nay, I can say no more!
Whom do you really hate?
I hate King Haraldur, who murdered my father and enslaved my people. I hate the king’s uncle, Guthormur, who encouraged the wicked king to his crimes and now carries out his evil will across the North. I hate Queen Gydha, who encouraged Haraldur’s ambitions to rule not just Vestfold, but all of Noregur, perhaps the entire North. And I hate Agyrtualinn, the vile wyrm, the evil dragon allied to King Haraldur, who has wreaked such devastation on those who oppose Haraldur.
What’s your favourite drink, colour, and relaxing pastime?
My favorite drink is mead, of course. I mean, there are those who prefer ale, but mead is the drink of the gods! Sweet, golden mead – there is nothing like it! My favorite color is blue, which is the color of my eyes. Whenever I wear blue, someone seems to comment on the way it brings out the color of my eyes. I do not get a lot of time to relax, but when I do, it is often to the simple pleasures of a good meal shared with good friends and company.
What does the future hold for you?
Well, I have promises to keep. I have won many battles, but the war is far from over as long as the tyrant Haraldur sits on the throne of Noregur.
Can you share a secret with us?
There are more tales of my adventures than just those told in my saga. Seek out the Tales From Midhgardhur, and you can learn more about my quests, and about my enemies, as well . . .
Colin Brodd grew up in the great state of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, but currently resides in Phoenix, Arizona. His business cards read “Gentleman Classicist Extraordinaire.” He has held many different positions in his life, but his main professional calling has always been a teacher of Latin and Classical Humanities. In addition to Latin and Ancient Greek, he enjoys working with Old English and Old Norse and other old Germanic languages. His favorite genres of fiction are fantasy and science fiction, and he has a great love of RPGs (role-playing games). His favorite nonfiction books tend to be classical and military history or linguistics and languages (especially the aforementioned Greek and Latin). He sincerely appreciates your interest in his work.
You can find Asa on the pages of The Saga of Asa Oathkeeper.
Join us next week for something we do not see here often – an author! (who also happens to be the protagonist in a novel…) Please follow the site by email (bottom-right), via Twitter, or like our Facebook page to be notified when the next interview is posted.