Bjarki Bloodhand: the berserker and the she-bear

I’ve just sent off the first draft of my third Viking novel (The Loki Sword – Fire Born 3) to the publisher and I am already thinking about the next one. But before I plunge into planning Fire Born 4 (as yet untitled), I thought I would tell you a little about one of the main characters in the series: Bjarki Bloodhand. Oh, and warning: a horde of spoilers are now charging in your direction, screaming their war cries.

This exercise was spurred by a reader who wrote a review recently saying that she didn’t like the character of Bjarki – she liked Tor and the others – but not the main guy. I never respond to bad reviews – life is too short to get into fights with strangers – but it got me thinking. I really do like Bjarki – I like him more than any of the others. Tor is brittle and fierce, brave but also very insecure. But Bjarki – despite being a battle-crazed berserker, who froths at the mouth and slaughters whole regiments of his enemies – is a kind and gentle man. I think it is the paradox that I like. He is big and very strong, and people think he is stupid, which he is not. And ordinarily he is slow to anger, and always trying to be decent and honest. He is cheerful, and doesn’t complain. He gets wounded a lot – an occupational hazard – but bears his pain stoically.

But Bjarki definitely has his problems. He does have a temper and in The Last Berserker he literally rips apart two chaps who taunt him and insult his girlfriend. Not least of his problems, later on in the first Fire Born book, is that he is possessed by a blood-mad animal spirit called a gandr – the ghost, if you like, of a huge ferocious she-bear. Bjarki found the living she-bear in the deep woods, where she was afflicted with a horrible gangrenous wound. She attacked Bjarki and his friends and he killed her – but it was a mercy-killing.

The upside of this is that Bjarki’s gandr can be summoned more-or-less at will to transforms him into a warrior of unbelievable strength and ferocity. The downside is that his body is taken over during this possession by an amoral monster who delights in bloodshed, and over whom Bjarki has very little control. His great fear in The Saxon Wolf (Fire Born 2), which came out in January 2022, is that the gandr will send him mad – like his father, who was also a berserker. In fact, in book 2, he is trying to get rid of his gandr.

I don’t want to give too much away, but in The Loki Sword (Fire Born 3) the she-bear become almost as important a character in the story as Bjarki or Tor.

Anyway, the point of all this is to say that I really do like Bjark Bloodhand, and I hope you will too. And if you are not familiar with the series yet, you can grab a copy of The Last Berserker here, and the The Saxon Wolf here. The Loki Sword will be out in August 2022. And, as for the next one after that . . . we will just have to wait and see.

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