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Guest blogger: Tanya Nellestein

28 February 2021

Creating the Valkyrie of Birca!

Last year I came across the Harlequin Warrior Blitz. For no other reason than I love a challenge, I decided to write a Viking romance. My knowledge base in this area was … negligible. Not to be deterred, I took a deep dive into Viking culture and found myself completely smitten. Wanting to know more, I took the obvious course of bingeing Vikings on Netflix. Oh my … Then I found The Last Kingdom. Between Ragnar Lothbrook and Uhtred, son of Uhtred, there was no turning back.

But more than all of that, there was Lagertha! Fierce, determined, fearless—a veritable goddess. She became the true inspiration for my Viking romance.

I wrote my first chapter, got some great feedback from my writing pals, and submitted to the Warrior Blitz, full of confidence. The rejection was as swift as a sharpened axe to the neck.

So I popped the chapter into the metaphorical drawer and moved on. Until Aiki Flinthart, finding herself at a loose end after completing her bucket list and still very much alive, asked if anyone wanted her to look at a fight scene. The creator of Fight Like a Girl, author, martial artist, and all-round amazing human being was looking for something to do. I jumped on it.

Not only did Aiki critique the first battle scene in the book, she went on to mentor me and the development of the manuscript from an idea to a story, and into a series. Unfortunately, by the time my first draft was done, Aiki’s time had run out. Her support and guidance live on in The Valkyrie’s Viking.

The book is set in Birca, Sweden, which is the site of the 10th-century grave belonging to a female warrior. The ancient warrior was given a prestigious Viking burial, complete with deadly Viking weapons, a bag of gaming pieces (possibly to represent military command) and two horses, one bridled for riding. This mighty warrior—long thought to be a man— made headlines in 2017 when researchers in Sweden announced that the individual was, in fact, a woman.

My very own Lagertha! How could I resist? The Valkyrie’s Viking is the first in a three-book series entitled The Valkyrie of Birca. The characters and their adventures are purely fictional, but their origins are steeped in centuries of culture and history.

The Valkyrie’s Viking will be released on 1 March 2021. You can pre-order your e-copy here. Paperbacks are available through

The Valkyrie’s Viking

She wants to rule the land and he lives for the sea. Is their love fated or cursed?

Shieldmaiden Brenna may be young, but she knows her mind. As the daughter of King Aric’s most trusted Huscarl, she is well-schooled in the art of battle and weaponry: skills vital for defending what is hers. Having fought to defend her homeland against would-be usurpers, she knows the cost of plunder and pillage.

Vali is a seasoned warrior. His thirst for adventure and battle has served him well in his many raiding expeditions. He has no use for the politics of position and land, preferring the freedom of the open seas.

Brenna and Vali’s young love is torn apart when the King offers Brenna’s hand in marriage to the Jarl of his most important trading centre, Birca. Believing this to be the will of the gods and a prophecy revealed to Brenna as a child, she agrees to the marriage.

Death brings Brenna and Vali back together to defend Birca. As their love is rekindled, Brenna must choose between Vali and the prophecy once more.

Her fate has been determined by the gods, but is it the destiny Brenna has always believed in?


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