Sail Like a Viking

museumlogoOne of the best things about being a writer is that when your friends worry about your obsessions, you can explain that it’s really just research for your current book.

Working on my 2014 Golden Heart finalists VALHALLA’S KING, I immersed myself in Norse mythology and revisited all the favorite stories and history lessons I learned while growing up in Sweden.

The book is the first in a series about Vikings and Valkyries sworn to protect humanity from Ragnarök, the final battle of the Norse gods that leads to the end of the worlds, for both gods and humans. Here’s a short blurb:

Hiding from black ops agents, cyber-security expert Naya works on the shady side of the law to finance a cure for her dying brother. When she inadvertently saves the life of immortal Viking king Leif and triggers an ancient Norse handfasting bond, she enters a world of primeval forces locked in battle for an eternity. To save her brother, she must risk her heart and trust the king in order to defeat their common enemy and prevent the end of the worlds—for both gods and humans. 

Most of my obsession…ehr…research is fueled by books and the internet, but last year during a visit to my parents’ house, I took a side trip to the Roskilde Viking Ship Museum in Denmark. The museum houses five original Viking ships from the 11th century. These ships were used in a blockade in a sea channel close to Skuldelev, which is 20 km north of Roskilde (the capital of Denmark during the Viking age). During the scrimmage, the ships were purposely sunk and not excavated until 1962, when they’d disintegrated into thousands of pieces. Each timber fragment had to be conserved and then painstakingly puzzled together to recreate the vessels. Each ship is a different type and together they give a unique insight into Viking shipbuilding techniques and skills.

Skuldelev Ship 3: The Coastal Trader

Skuldelev Ship 3: The Coastal Trader

In the contemporary world of VALHALLA’S KING, I’ve slightly altered the old Viking mythology. For example, instead of just leading the male warriors to Valhalla, they are trained in Freya’s Folkvang (Freya’s Meadow) in the arts of healing and war. The Valkyries kick some serious ass in my books and idea of female warriors seem to run in my family. My niece and nephew went with me to the museum and got to pick out a gift each in the museum shop. Instead of choosing something from hair clips and jewelry display that the sales lady showed her,  my niece marched straight to the swords.

Valkyrie in Training

Valkyrie in Training

In addition to the ships and a myriad of exhibitions on Viking culture and customs, the Viking Museum has a boatyard where you can watch craftsmen reconstruct prehistoric boats in full scale, using only the tools available at the time. And then they sail them across the Roskilde Fjord! And you can go with them!

School and books taught me what outstanding strategists, navigators, and craftsmen the Vikings were, but it’s a whole other thing to see these things in action. The extreme precision involved in building a waterproof vessel is mindboggling. Imagine fitting plank by plank together without glue or nails. And the teamwork necessary to sail the ships is amazing. One miscalculated pull on an oar or a rope, and the whole exposed vessel could flip over in open ocean.

If you ever have a chance, join the museum’s 120 000 yearly visitors. And if you’re lucky, you may find as superb guides as I did:

Eric and Ellen: Swedish Conquerors of the Sea

Ellen and Eric: Swedish Conquerors of the Sea


About Asa Maria Bradley

2016 Double RITA finalist, romance author, news junkie, physics instructor, and diver. Loves Norse mythology, ranch dressing, and cop shows. Lives with husband and rescue dog of indeterminate breed in Pacific Northwest. Represented by Sarah E. Younger of the Nancy Yost Literary Agency. Writers about sexy modern-day Vikings. More at and @AsaMariaBradley.

Posted on May 15, 2014, in Auth: Asa Maria Bradley and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. I’ve never been to a Viking museum, but this place looks cool!

    Mostly, I just wanted to say hi. I sat next to you during lunch at the Desert Dreams conference in Phoenix. I reached the ‘Janes’ site pretty much by accident, but when I saw your name I stopped to look around.



  2. Not being able to swim I avoid boats but this one looks cool. Adorable niece!


  3. I think you only tip the canoe once at Viking summer camp 😉


  4. Hi Lee, thanks for stopping by. The Viking Museums (there are several in Scandinavia) all have really great resources on their websites and you can switch the language on the sites to English. So, if you can’t be there in person, at least you can visit them virtually. 🙂


  5. This is so cool. The history is fascinating. And a book with serious ass kicking? Sign me up. I love that your niece picked the sword. That’s my kind of girl! VALHALLA’S KING sounds like an intriguing read. Since I doubt I’ll be lucky enough to travel to Denmark anytime soon, I’m so glad you shared so I could “experience” a part of it.


  1. Pingback: Writer Asa Maria Bradley » Blog Archive » On See Jane Publish Today: Sail Like a Viking

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