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The Real Valkyrie

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For me, The Real Valkyrie does both a huge benefit to reexamining the way we interpret the remains we have of the Vikings, and has the potential to create some confusion as Brown weaves together archaeological evidence, sagas and poems of legendary historical Viking figures, and imagines her own story for the remains found of a Viking warrior woman. The storytelling makes the archaeological information the author shares much more readable and less dry, but at the same time can also make it more difficult to separate fact from fiction. It can get easy to get caught up in Hervor's adventures and then remember that Brown is creating a plausible, but ultimately fictional story based on the remains of the woman found on Birka and the objects found with her. The epics and poems both muddy the story further and provide additional perspective, as they are often told from hundreds of years after people lived and events happened, from the male-dominated Christian religion that struggles to fathom women being in charge or fighting in battles. This was a story that was fascinating as we continue to reevaluate the past of the Vikings with a more open-minded perspective, and there's definitely great information in the book. That being said, it should be read carefully from a nonfiction perspective due to the speculative and interpretative approach the author takes in sharing new information and research.
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Living during the Viking age does not sound enticing. Gender may not have mattered in a person’s choice of occupation. Women could lead warriors and men stay in the kitchen. But the lifestyle doesn’t appeal. Family didn’t seem too important.
A warrior in a Birka grave was assumed to be male until DNA testing revealed she was female. Nothing is known about her, but the author draws a likely scenario from Icelandic sagas and was is known about the time. A real eye-opener. I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book. All opinions are my own.
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I have been trying to go more into nonfiction lately, and let me tell you. This book was GREAT for that. You've got science. You've got history. You've got VIKING WOMEN. What's not to love? The viewpoint of pagan/Norse was so well done. The IMAGERY alone was phenomenal. Brown did her research so well, and you can tell she poured her heart and soul into this book. 

Is it information dense? YES. But not in a 'trying to chip through concrete with a plastic spoon' kind of way. It was approachable and it only made me want to keep reading. (But apparently sleep is a thing humans need...)
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Though much of this book is speculation based upon archaeological and DNA findings, there is not much else one can hope for in a book about Vikings and Valkyries. Although a hugely popular and trendy topic over the last decade, there is still much of Viking Age Scandinavian history that is shrouded in mystery. Most of the primary source material is archaeological and most, if not all, writing about the time period was recorded by Christian scribes centuries after the Viking Age ended. Yet, Brown is able to put together an entertaining and fresh take on a subject that contradicts what many historians have already etched in stone, if you can excuse the pun. By taking DNA results from a pile of bones in a “warrior’s grave”, Brown has turned the modern-day understanding of the Viking world on its head. Despite legendary shield-maidens and winged Valkyries being depicted in Norse mythology for centuries, recent findings have shown that the warrior culture of Vikings may not have been as male-dominated as previously believed. Using archaeological and DNA evidence, “The Real Valkyrie” puts women side-by-side on the battlefield with the brawny, bearded warriors we imagine when we think of Vikings.
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This was much harder to read as it is very detailed.  While yes it was a good read it was hard though as there were so many little areas to watch for
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The Real Valkyrie: The Hidden History of Viking Warrior Women is part history, part archeology, and part criticism of the Icelandic sagas. Brown admits that much of the book is speculation based on archeological finds throughout the Vikings historical range and beyond. The book, though, is a much-needed correction to the male-centric, misogynic attitudes first put forth by Snorri Storlusson and his ilk as they rewrote the Icelandic sagas. Those ideas were repeated and amplified in the nineteenth century which, with its desire to “catalog” everything, also rewrote much of the world’s history to conform to Victorian ideals.  

Brown’s speculation is based in part on fact: in 2017, a high-level presumed-male warrior buried in Birka, Sweden is shown, through DNA testing, to be female. Brown also accesses Snorri Storlusson and others who were trying to document the Icelandic sagas, albeit with a medieval male-oriented Christian bent. Her expansive knowledge of Viking history and sagas bring Viking society to life. The Real Valkyrie reveals how medieval and modern biases shaped our vision of Viking women even more than data and facts have.

The Real Valkyrie gives this female Viking a name and imagines her life and her experiences. Each chapter begins with the imagined life of this woman warrior. This book blends both history and historical fiction, thus readers who prefer straight fiction or straight history may find this book maddening. I found this book to be beautifully written and researched. I loved the rich details Brown provides as well as her take on what a female Viking might have experienced.
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The Real Valkyrie
The Hidden History of Viking Warrior Women
by Nancy Marie Brown
St. Martin's Press
 You Like Them
History | Nonfiction (Adult)
Pub Date 31 Aug 2021   |   Archive Date 14 Sep 2021

Great book!  I highly recommend it for anyone who enjoys history or women's studies.  I don't read enough about the Norse and this book proves it.  I found this book a fascinating read.  I learned so much.  Thanks to St, Martin's Press and NetGalley for the ARC.  I plan to purchase it for our library. 

5 star
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I have just read The Real Valkyrie: The Hidden History of Viking Warrior Women, by Author Nancy Marie Brown.

What an intriguing, and interesting book. There was so much detail and research put into this book.

It was fascinating from start to finish. I have already recommended it to several friends who enjoy history.

The detail about the gravesites, and what was discovered, to the attention to detail that was described in their lives, clothing, habits, and armour!

A very enjoyable read about a fascinating topic!

Thank you to NetGalley, Author Nancy Marie Brown , and St. Martin's Press for my advanced copy to read and review.

#TheRealValkyrie #NetGalley
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This book follows the journey of Hervor, a girl who became a slave and eventually a Viking Warrior. Brown's examination of our ideas of Viking Warriors challenges the idea that the quintessential warrior was male, or that gender held any bearing in terms of future occupation for the Rus, or Vikings. 

By examining a grave found at Birka that was for years assumed to be a male warrior's research now suggests that this warrior was a woman, and female warriors were not uncommon. Brown weaves historical research with sagas and poems from the period in which Hervor lived. Through following historical accounts of trade routes and examining artifacts found in the grave, as well as testing on Hervor's bones, Brown manages to theorize how Hervor's life may have been lived.

The significance of this book is not whether Hervor's speculative life was accurately theorized here, but rather challenging the idea of the Valkyrie as simply mythological creatures. We now know that in Viking culture, Sami culture, and many of the other nomadic eastern cultures Hervor could have encountered that women were valued members of society and often leaders. Victorian mores and the church's influence tainted our view of this powerful historical figures. This book is worth reading. Brown achieves a balance of speculative "fiction" based in historical facts that immerses you in the time in which Hervor lived.
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Although I read my share of historical fiction, I do not read much straight history.  However, this book looked very intriguing, so I decided to give it a try — and I am glad that I did!  It is uniquely presented, well-written work that is immensely engaging.

This book is really an interesting combination of historical and straight fiction, for it focuses on the probable life of a Viking warrior woman, whose remains were found in Birka, Sweden (and whom the author names Hervor), by mixing fictional scenes and Viking literature with credible historical research.  I applaud this creative writing style!  The result is simply a fascinating look at Viking women and their world in the 10th century — and definitely not dry reading.

Thanks to the publisher and to NetGalley for providing me with an ARC.
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Ms. brown did a great job of weaving known facts into a story that was very likely to have happened to her Valkyrie skeleton. It was a fresh new view on how women might have actually been during the viking era and the new details that have been uncovered are very fascinating. This book was super easy to read and kept you engaged to entire time.
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First book by this author and was not disappointed. Very well researched and written. Was very gripping and interesting read. Would definitely recommend this.
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The Real Valkyrie by N.M. Brown is a stand-alone non-fiction historical book. After reading the blurb I was intrigued and really wanted to read this book. But sadly it's not what I expected. I expected to be led into the colorful world of the first century with their rich history, the nordic mythology too and was hoping just a bit for something like Lagherta's story from Vikings - just a tiny bit. Nope, that is a bonedeep dry lesson in history, a dustdry scientific lecture where I learned not much. Viking women were warriors?? Gasps - nope, nothing new, I already new this, even learned about it in school. When you like reading about bones and graves, their excavation, DNA testing and results - this is your story. So I really, really wanted to like the book, but this was a dnf for me.
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Thank you NetGalley, St. Martin's Press and Author for this widget to The Real Valkyrie by Nancy 

I usually tend to not read non-fiction books. So when I was sent this I thought what the heck!. 
I'm going to give it a go. 
And I'm here to say this read blew me away. 

This novel will be interesting for those who enjoy reading about Viking women! 
Nancy uses written documents, new tools and evidence to the Viking world of the tenth century that warrior woman were powerful back then and women had equal rights. 
This will be great for schools also. 
This is a fascinating read, I thought it was powerful, empowering, thought-provoking and just all.around freaking amazing! 
The writing was superb, well-written, well-researched, outstanding novel that I couldn't be torn from! 

Again I can't thank the lady enough at St. Martin Press for this widget! 
You had me read and enjoy a book I would have never read! 😘

I will post to my Goodreads, bookstagram and Facebook accounts closer to pub date!
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I found this to be an intriguing work of creative nonfiction.  The author alternates between an imagined biography of an individual from a real Viking burial with scholarly explanations based on the archaeological evidence and reading ''between the lines' of the Viking sagas.  I found her assumptions compelling and the biography entertaining.  The only reason I didn't it a full 5 stars is because I liked the character so much that I would have preferred to read more detail in the imagined biography.
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It will surprise no one that everything we think we know about Vikings women dates back to those darn Victorians and their ability to completely Victorian-ize everything.

The island of Birka, not far from Stockholm, is home to a once-busy Viking village, meant to control trade routes around northern Scandinavia. It also happens to be home to hundreds of Viking graves. One grave in particular is of most interest to the author, that of a Viking warrior that was first excavated in 1878. Given the items recovered from the grave and the high-status burial provided, for over one hundred years it has been assumed (by dudes who could not conceive of any other option) that the Birka Warrior was male.

Not so, says the 2017 DNA test.

And from there the author is off and running on a fantastical journey across Europe, imagining what life must have been like for this warrior who lived over hundreds of years ago.

The author does a fantastic job using archaeology, history, and the Norse legends and sagas to bring to light a much more accurate picture of how Vikings women lived, fought, and died. In imagining what life might have been like for this warrior, to whom she gives the name Hervor, the author is able to shed more light on the women of the age who were far more independent than the Victorians would have you believe.

Using the many varieties of sources previously mentioned, the author constructs an example of what life might have been like for young Hervor. Each chapter begins with a segment of Hervor's "story" - a story which sees her cross paths with other formidable women of the age, from Queen Gunnhild to Queen Olga of Kyiv.

While the author has fictionalized what life might have been like for this Birka warrior, each chapter delves deeply into various aspects of life for the real Viking women who lived so long ago. There is extensive research here and the author clearly knows her stuff. The author's knowledge of the sagas and old Norse stories is a wonderful addition to the historical record.
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Thank you Netgalley for the ARC. I really liked this book! It was informative and yet was written in an engaging way that kept me reading till the end. I will be recommending my library to purchase it. The imagining of the time period I thought was well done and kept my interest. I thought it was  engrossing   It really made me think about what a woman went through and I am always interested in books that celebrate the contribution of women through history. I remember hearing about the news in 2017 but didn't dig deeper. The combination of history and  what it might have been like for a women in that time period. from the perspective of a woman of the time.  I used to think that Valkyries were just a character in fantasy books that I had read. I am glad that I read this. There are other books out there that tell the stories of women in history and this is one that must be read. This is a book to include in any Women's History Month display!
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Is it history? Is it historical fiction? Whatever the classification, this book is wholly immersive and I cannot praise it enough. From pinpointing the sanitization of Viking women’s history (spoiler alert: it’s those darned Victorians) to spotlighting what the actual history may, in fact, be, this book is the best of both history and historical fiction; it transports the reader to a bygone era.

Highly, highly recommended.
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Nancy Marie Brown has done a wonderful job of investigating the mystery of the role that women played in Viking Age warfare. Using the remains of an uncovered warrior whom she names Hervor, Brown takes us through the Viking Age from the lens of this female warrior. In this world we see the standard gender roles that we assume were common for the time debunked as Brown shows almost all were equal in this time when speaking of gender.. Fans of the character Lagertha from The History Channel’s hit series Vikings will find it fascinating to read and see what it may have been like to be a woman and a warrior in the Viking Age and even see an anicdote on the real Lagertha herself. It is even more fascinating to see how the concept of “shield maidens” may have came into existence. Combining fascinating detective work with amazing scholarship I highly praise Brown’s ability to bring the real valkyries to life.
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The Real Valkyrie by Nancy M Brown is wonderfully written, the writing is done professional with every being backed up with facts found. Its so interesting to learn about women Vikings and Nancy worked so hard to create these stories off of the scientific data found. The information paints such a different perspective and story from what was previously thought of Viking women in this time period and it is mind blowing all the things they were able to do and the stature they possessed in society. They were respected and even feared. Thank you Nancy for taking the time to gather the research and paint a beautifully and well written story from the past.
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