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The Waking of Angantyr

This novel is the bastard child of my college thesis.

I wrote my thesis (joint archaeology/folklore and mythology) on weapons in Viking Age Scandinavia, and in the course of that, I read a great deal of Old Norse literature. This included a poem called “The Waking of Angantyr,” in which a young woman named Hervor goes to a barrow and speaks to the ghosts of the men there in order to demand a cursed sword from one of them. I discovered that the poem was from a larger work I’ve seen under a variety of names, the most official of which appears to be Hervarar saga ok Heiðreks (i.e. The Saga of Hervör and Heidrek), but Christopher Tolkien translated it under the title The Saga of King Heidrek the Wise. Having loved the poem, I eagerly sought it out . . .

. . . and ye gods was it a disappointment.

Some of the sagas have a strong narrative through-line, but this one is more a hodgepodge of stories crammed together. Most fatally, the context in which I’d encountered “The Waking of Angantyr” said outright that the reason Hervor wanted the sword was so she could go get revenge — but that’s not true. The people she might exact her revenge from are already dead; having obtained the sword, she just . . . goes home. Most of the saga has nothing to do with her. The bloody, epic tale I had assumed existed around the poem was nowhere to be found.

Unless, of course, I wrote it. My first run at the subject was just a short story focused on the poem itself, but after I finished my thesis, that short story grew out in both directions to become an entire novel. It was the last novel I drafted before I made my first sale (the sale being the book now known as Warrior), and crossing that threshold changed my trajectory enough that The Waking of Angantyr got shoved into a corner and forgotten.

But I recently went back to take a look at it and discovered that, actually, I still really liked it! Some parts needed polishing, but the core was solid. Having duly polished those bits, I saw no reason not to send it around to editors. It has been acquired by Sophie Robinson at Titan in the UK, and it will be out October 10th of 2023!