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Valkyries: the female supernatural beings that choose who dies and who lives on the battlefield. They protect some, but guide spears, arrows and sword blades into the bodies of others. Viking myths about valkyries attempt to elevate the banality of war – to make the pain and suffering, the lost limbs and deformities, the piles of lifeless bodies of young men, glorious and worthwhile. Rather than their death being futile, it is their destiny and good fortune, determined by divine beings. The women in these stories take full part in the power struggles and upheavals in their communities, for better or worse.
Drawing on the latest historical and archaeological evidence, Valkyrie introduces readers to the dramatic and fascinating texts recorded in medieval Iceland, a culture able to imagine women in all kinds of roles carrying power, not just in this world, but pulling the strings in the other-world, too. In the process, this fascinating book uncovers the reality behind the myths and legends to reveal the dynamic, diverse lives of Viking women.
“What a wonderful book. For the first time readers can understand the importance of the Valkyries in the Viking Age and see the impact these mythical women had more broadly on culture and society in the early medieval world... It's a pleasure to read and be plunged into a world of sagas, runes, myth and magic.” – Dr Janina Ramirez FRSA, University of Oxford
“Authoritative and provocative, bang up-to-date, yet steeped in historical knowledge, JKF's Valkyrie is indispensable for all Viking enthusiasts. Her lively style, profound knowledge and brilliant insights signal a stunning new voice in the debate about the Vikings.” – Carolyne Larrington, Professor of Medieval European Literature, University of Oxford
“This is the new standard work on women in the Viking Age – a lively, authoritative and staunchly feminist survey that combines both textual and material sources in a ground-breaking study of the female life-course. With this superb book, Jóhanna Katrín has put Viking scholars in her debt.” – Neil Price, Professor of Archaeology, Uppsala University