Staff Publication: The Viking Hostage

Written by Tracey Warr
Review by Jen Black

The Viking Hostage is something of a medieval saga, covering thirty-seven years in the lives of three women and the men who rule their lives. None of them, male or female, is totally free of the tangled web of relationships, lies and deceits that bind the nobility of central France in Sigrid and Aina’s time.

Asked what drew her to such a complex piece of French history, Ms Warr (who has a PhD in Art History and speaks French) said:

“My novels are a weave of researched fact and imagining in the gaps between facts. I live in southern France part of the year. Whilst researching for my first novel, Almodis, one of my primary historical sources was Ademar of Chabannes’ Chronicle of France and Aquitaine. In it he describes the kidnap by Viking of Aina, heiress of Segur and betrothed wife of the Viscount of Limoges. She was held hostage for three years and then ransomed. He also mentions the young Count of La Marche, who was kept prisoner in a dungeon by the Viscount of Limoges for a long time and when released married the Viscount’s daughter. These two historical events piqued my interest.

“The more I research medieval history the more I find that stereotype ideas (some of which I used to hold myself) about medieval women, or Vikings, for example, need redrawing into something more complex. Some women did wield power, especially in southern France and northern Spain, some women were literate, there were female troubadours and skalds, some Vikings were tender or funny poets as well as fearsome, pagan warriors, for instance.”

Those who want a leisurely, well-researched story can settle down happily with The Viking Hostage.