Johanna Katrin Fridriksdottir
LONGLISTED FOR THE 2020 CUNDILL HISTORY PRIZE
Valkyries: the female supernatural beings that choose who dies and who lives on the battlefield. They protect some, but guide spears, arrows and sword blades into the bodies of others. Viking myths about valkyries attempt to elevate the banality of war – to make the pain and suffering, the lost limbs and deformities, the piles of lifeless bodies of young men, glorious and worthwhile. Rather than their death being futile, it is their destiny and good fortune, determined by divine beings. The women in these stories take full part in the power struggles and upheavals in their communities, for better or worse.
Drawing on the latest historical and archaeological evidence, Valkyrie introduces readers to the dramatic and fascinating texts recorded in medieval Iceland, a culture able to imagine women in all kinds of roles carrying power, not just in this world, but pulling the strings in the other-world, too. In the process, this fascinating book uncovers the reality behind the myths and legends to reveal the dynamic, diverse lives of Viking women.
[Fridriksdottir] brilliantly manages to make the Vikings feel far closer to us than ever before ... 4 stars. * Mail on Sunday * Fridriksdottir weaves a complex picture in which different kinds of evidence successfully illuminate each other to provide a rich and detailed picture ... This book is intelligent, engaging and well written, with many new insights. * BBC History Magazine * Valkyries have an obvious appeal, but the real women of the Viking age are more exciting. In Johanna Katrin Fridriksdottir's significant new history, they are brought engagingly to life. * Times Literary Supplement * [A] fascinating overview of women's roles in the Viking world, from infancy to death. It's a period of history that continues to grip the popular imagination, here brought evocatively to life through archaeological discoveries and contemporary sources, including emotive stories and verse. * History Revealed * Valkyrie's true colour comes from the Old Norse literature that underpins much of the analysis. The pages sparkle with tales of the fierce Valkyries and vengeful wives of poetic legend, the goddesses of Asgard and the women who feature in the Old Norse sagas... Yeild[s] new insights into the complex nature of the Viking Age. * Literary Review * This deep dive into the lives of the women of the Viking era is a fascinating one, combining as it does both the realities and mythology of the time ... Fridriksdottir's investigation merges these two worlds brilliantly ... 4 stars. * All About History * The author's dilemma, in this scholarly study, is to reconcile the larger-than-life legends of monstrous mothers and terrifying shield maidens with the more mundane and complex reality of daily life for Viking women from childhood to old age. -- Fiona Capp and Cameron Woodhead * Brisbane Times * Through an excellent insight into both the written, as well as archaeological sources the author weaves a clear picture of women's lives from birth to death in the Viking Age. Valkyrie: The Women of the Viking World is a significant book. * Professor Jon Vidar Sigurdsson, University of Oslo * Authoritative and provocative, bang up-to-date, yet steeped in historical knowledge, JKF's Valkyrie is indispensable for all Viking enthusiasts. Her lively style, profound knowledge and brilliant insights signal a stunning new voice in the debate about the Vikings. * Carolyne Larrington, Professor of Medieval European Literature, University of Oxford * This is the new standard work on women in the Viking Age - a lively, authoritative and staunchly feminist survey that combines both textual and material sources in a ground-breaking study of the female life-course. With this superb book, Johanna Katrin has put Viking scholars in her debt. * Neil Price, Professor of Archaeology, Uppsala University * What a wonderful book. For the first time readers can understand the importance of the Valkyries in the Viking Age and see the impact these mythical women had more broadly on culture and society in the early medieval world. The scholarship is excellent, interpretation thorough, yet the writing style is accessible. It's a pleasure to read and be plunged into a world of sagas, runes, myth and magic. * Dr Janina Ramirez FRSA, University of Oxford *
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