Mastodon The Writing Desk: Book Launch Guest Post: Riddle of the Gods: A Viking Age Novel (Olaf's Saga Book 4) by Eric Schumacher

27 March 2024

Book Launch Guest Post: Riddle of the Gods: A Viking Age Novel (Olaf's Saga Book 4) by Eric Schumacher

Available from Amazon UK and Amazon US

AD 976. Olaf Tryggvason, the renegade prince of Norway, has lost his beloved wife to a tragedy that turns the lords of the land he rules against him. With his family gone and his future uncertain, Olaf leaves his realm and embarks on a decades-long quest to discover his course in life.

Inspiration for Riddle of the Gods

To understand the inspiration behind Riddle of the Gods, it’s best to start at the beginnig and provide the impotus behind the entire series, since this is a follow-on book to the previous three. 

My stories take place in the Viking Age, and are all focused on actual characters taken from the pages of the ancient Norse sagas. I was not yet done telling tales about this fascinating period, despite having spent years researching and writing Hakon’s Saga (the previous series). I knew I had at least one more saga in me, and so I began to search for a suitable character and story that stood out to me.

I landed on Olaf for a number of reasons, the least of which were his raiding years. His raiding was not so unlike many other Vikings that came before and after him, nor are the stories of his violence. What made him truly stand out to me was his arc as a character. He begins his life as a noble, becomes a slave, and rises again to the throne of Norway. 

In addition, his is a life that began as a pagan and ended as a Christian, though a Chistian known for his violence rather than his goodwill. And, it was a life filled with adventure and exploits. There was much there to work with and I wanted to explore it all. I wanted to unearth the man, not the myth, and put meat on his bones. Who was this handsome, gifted, violent man? 

In addition, Olaf’s life spanned the known world of the Vikings: Scandinavia, the Baltic kingdoms, the Slavic kingdoms, and what is now Western Europe. In him was a chance to explore each of those places in the 10th century and the various cultural divides between them. That, too, really piqued my desire to write about him. 

The first book in Olaf’s Saga, Forged by Iron, tells of Olaf’s childhood and his frightening life on the run from his kin-killing cousins. The second novel, Sigurd’s Swords, explores Olaf’s adventures in the land of the Rus. Wolves of Wagria (Book 3) dove into his tumultuous time in what the Vikings called Wendland, and more specifically, a kingdom called Wagria. I’ve written several blog posts about those exploits and the history surrounding them on my own blog. 

What this book unearths is Olaf’s time on the move, not only as a raider in Western Europe, but also as a person. But, I did not want to just write a travelogue (dare I say, raiding-logue) of his years on the seas. I wanted to focus on what happened to him personally during that period, and so I landed on his time in Ireland.

Olaf in Ireland

We do not know much about Olaf in Western Europe. We know only that he raided extensively, including in Ireland. At that point in time, Ireland was a land in turmoil, divided between royal families/clans who countrolled separate kingdoms that were often at odds with each other. Adding to that dangerous mix were the Vikings, who founded or fortified bases and towns along the coast – Dublin, Waterford, Limerick, Cork and Wexford – from which they could raid into the land and trade internationally. It was into that environment that Olaf sailed in the latter half of the 10th century.

At about that time, an Irish king named Malachy dispelled the Vikings from Dublin, freed the slaves kept by the Scandinavians, and installed his half-brother as ruler of the city. While the locals may have been pleased with the change, there were others who saw it as an invitation to take the town for themselves, including a Viking leader named Ivar of Waterford. In other words, the politics of the land were rife for adventurous souls like Olaf who, like most Vikings, saw opportunity in chaos.

Religiously, Ireland was a Christian land, as were many Western European kingdoms. However, there were still many among the Vikings who had not yet embraced this new faith. Having followed the old gods his entire life, Olaf was curious about this Christian god. This, of course, creates a level of tension between his men, and within himself, that I wanted to investigate more deeply.

I will not give away any spoilers here, but the stage is set for what becomes Riddle of the Gods, a fast-paced retelling of Olaf and his time on the western seas. I hope you enjoy it!

Eric Schumacher

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About the Author

Eric Schumacheris the author of seven novels and one novella, all set in the Viking Age. By day, Schumacher is a PR consultant for early-stage technology companies. By night, he ventures into the past, using known history and ancient tales to create stories about real people living in turbulent times. From the earliest age, Schumacher devoured books about castles and warrior kings and Tolkien’s Middle Earth. Those stories, coupled with a love of writing, led him to the completion of Hakon’s Saga (published by Legionary Books), which tells the story of the young Norwegian king, Hakon Haraldsson, and his struggles to win, unify, and protect what was not yet Norway. Schumacher began his current series, called Olaf’s Saga, in 2019. The first three books in the saga, Forged by Iron, Sigurd’s Swords and Wolves of Wagra respectively, were all Amazon best sellers, and are now available across e-tailers. Riddle of the Gods is the fourth book in that series. Find out more at Eric's website: and find him on Facebook and Twitter @DarkAgeScribe

1 comment:

  1. Thanks so much for hosting Eric Schumacher today, with such a fascinating post!

    Take care,
    Cathie xx
    The Coffee Pot Book Club


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