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The Real Valkyrie — Virtual Book Talk

August 31, 2021—2:00 pm3:00 pm

Join us on August 31 for a virtual book talk with Nancy Marie Brown on her new book The Real Valkyrie: The Hidden History of Viking Warrior Women, out today from St. Martin’s Press! With moderator Anna Dís Ólafsdóttir, she’ll discuss the compelling new novel bringing the world of valkyries and shield-maids to vivid life.

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. In this gripping read Brown 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.

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.”

This event will take place as a Zoom webinar; please ask questions in the chat or send them in advance to Registration is required; please sign up at the link above.

“Brown introduces us to a broader version of the Viking world, and to many powerful Viking women who have been previously dismissed as fiction. The end result is a complex, important, and delightful addition to women’s history.”—Pamela D. Toler, author of Women Warriors: An Unexpected History


Nancy Marie Brown is the author of highly praised books of nonfiction, including Song of the Vikings. She is fluent in Icelandic and spends her summers in Iceland. She has deep ties to the Scandinavian cultural institutions in the U.S. Brown lives in East Burke, Vermont.


Anna Dís Ólafsdóttir is Executive Producer and Owner at Profilm, an Icelandic film and production company specializing in documentaries. After working in London for many years, Anna Dís joined Profilm in 2004. Profilm works with the leading television stations around the world and has filmed and produced over 40 documentaries and well over a hundred individual television programs. In 2018, Anna Dís interviewed Nancy extensively for Profilm’s documentary, “The Far Traveller,” about the Viking Age woman who explored North America 500 years before Columbus.


August 31, 2021
2:00 pm – 3:00 pm