PEOPLE OF THE SONGTRAIL
- Monday, 16 September 2013 08:50
We have completed the manuscript for People of the Songtrail. It’s a whole book! Now we have a couple of weeks of revisions, polishing, reading, thinking, and editing before we send it off to New York and our editor. Who will have suggestions for other revisions, thinking, and editing. We expect it to land on bookstore shelves sometime in 2015.
This has been a tough one to write. Having gotten used to North American archaeology, and familiar with the research and environment, the Viking research really surprised us. Not only is there a wealth of information, but we kept running into oddities that no one has really considered, like seidur magic. Norse archaeologists make mention of the seidur magic artifacts in Viking burials, but rarely interpret them. Turns out that seidur magic (which became the foundation for most modern fantasy) was in conflict with early Christianity.
We all know the story, right? Eric the Red was chased out of Iceland for murder, and found and settled Greenland. Leif Erickson looked west, and wondered if anything was out there, so he sailed off and found Vinland–North America. Turns out it wasn’t so simple. First off, Irish monks had voyaged all over the north Atlantic looking for solitary religious retreats, which was a kind of penitential exile. People knew there was land out there across the sea. Norse ships had already reported seeing it. The Norse and English were fighting a nasty civil war with factions at each other’s throats. Plagues were ravishing Europe. And mandatory conversions to Christianity sent numerous Vikings fleeing to find religious freedom. All of the above motivated people to look for distant, and perhaps friendlier shores. Nor was all Viking/Native interaction hostile since long-term trade was initiated, women were married off in both directions, and thousand-year-old Native American mitochondrial DNA has recently been found in Iceland.
Finally, recent archaeological research in the Arctic demonstrates that Norse/Eskimo contact was a long-term, three hundred and fifty year, process that only ceased after the end of the Medieval Warm Period. Had the North Atlantic not frozen over during the Little Ice Age, which lasted from roughly 1,300 to 1,800, Columbus wouldn’t have had to make his voyage of “discovery.” He’d have had detailed maps at hand (which he may have had anyway) and already known that native peoples had been living here for a long time before Vikings explorers “discovered” them.