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About the Book

About the Book

The Real Valkyrie: The Hidden History of Viking Warrior Women

In the tradition of Stacy Schiff’s Cleopatra, Brown lays to rest the hoary myth that Viking society was ruled by men and celebrates the dramatic lives of female Viking warriors.

In 2017, DNA tests revealed to the collective shock of many scholars that a Viking warrior in a high-status grave in Birka, Sweden was actually a woman. THE REAL VALKYRIE weaves together archaeology, history and literature to imagine her life and times, showing that Viking women had more power and agency than historians have imagined.

Nancy Marie Brown uses science to link the Birka warrior, whom she names Hervor, to Viking trading towns and to their great trade route east to Byzantium and beyond. She imagines her life intersecting with larger-than-life but real women, including Queen Gunnhild Mother-of-Kings, the Viking leader known as The Red Girl, and Queen Olga of Kyiv. Hervor’s short, dramatic life shows that much of what we have taken as truth about women in the Viking Age is based not on data, but on 19th-century Victorian biases. Rather than holding the household keys, Viking women in history, law, saga, poetry and myth carry weapons. These women brag, “As heroes we were widely known --- with keen spears we cut blood from bone.” In this compelling narrative, Brown brings the world of those valkyries and shield-maids to vivid life.

The Real Valkyrie: The Hidden History of Viking Warrior Women
by Nancy Marie Brown

  • Publication Date: August 31, 2021
  • Genres: History, Nonfiction
  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • ISBN-10: 1250200849
  • ISBN-13: ‎9781250200846