Spotlight on . . . King of the North
I am starting a new series that each week will shine a notional spotlight on one of my novels. This week the focus is on King of the North, the fourth book in my Fire Born series, which was published last week.
I’m coming at this from the position that you know nothing about any of my books and so, if you are an established reader of my stuff, you may be being told things you already know. In which case, I apologise. I don’t want to irritate my existing fans but I am hoping to attract new readers to my books.
So, the Fire Born series: this is a collection of “Viking” novels set at the end of the 8th century in North Europe. It actually starts just before the traditional beginning of the “Viking Age” and instead of having the usual rampaging pirates attacking England, it deals (mostly) with the wars between the pagan Saxons and Charlemagne’s Christian Franks who fought for three decades in Saxony (north Germany).
The Saxons worshipped the old gods – Odin, Thor, Freya and so on, but with slightly different names – and lived very similar lives to their Danish allies just to the north of their lands. When I was researching the Saxons and their long wars against the Franks, it occurred to me that they were, largely, culturally indistinguishable from their northern neighbours. Their language was probably not that different either.
The homeland of our Anglo-Saxon ancestors was in the base of the Jutland peninsula (the rough map above is of the Dane-work, the massive earthwork that separated the Danes and the Saxons, see The Last Berserker: Fire Born 1). Some of the islands of modern-day Denmark were settled by people who called themselves Saxons. So I started with the premise that the warlike Saxons were just southern Northmen, a land-based Germanic variety of Viking. And that was the genesis of the Fire Born series.
Having said all that, King of the North is a bit different from the rest of the books*. The fourth book of the Fire Born series doesn’t take place in Saxony. This one is set in Scandinavia – and has Swedes, Danes, Goths, Saxons and Norwegians all battling for the (fictional) title of King of the North. My heroes, Bjarki Bloodhand, a kind-hearted berserker, and Torfinna (Tor) Hildarsdottir, a spiky shield maiden, get caught up in the apocalyptic legendary battle of Brávellir. Bjarki is Danish, Tor is Swedish and, due to some very tangled loyalties, and the oaths they have made to various lords, they end up on opposing sides.
I’m just starting to write Blood of the Bear (Fire Born 5) and this novel and Book 6, probably the final episode in the series, will bring the action back to Saxony, although there will be bits that take place in Norway and Denmark, too. Saxony is an unusual setting for a “Viking” series, I know. But I felt that too many other brilliant authors were doing the traditional Viking thing, focussing on the raids of the Norse on England, or the Viking-Byzantine connection, that I wanted to do something a little different. And the wars between Charlemagne and the Saxon rebel leader Widukind are, I think, fascinating. But rest assured the Fire Born series has all the usual ingredients of a Viking novel, warriors battling in a shield wall, heroic deaths, axe-wielding berserkers frothing at the mouth – and just a dash of romance, too . . .
King of the North (Fire Born 4) can be ordered from Amazon by clicking here. All the other Fire Born books, starting with The Last Berserker, are available in eBook, paperback and audio form from Amazon.
* The Loki Sword (Fire Born 3) also doesn’t take place in Saxony, but further east in what is now Poland, Czech Republic and Hungary. But four out of the six Fire Born books will take place in north Germany.