1. Fascinating stuff! There are a couple of books I’ve read involving Viking culture that I think you’d enjoy (if you haven’t read them already) – The Long Ships by Frans G. Bengtsson and The Icelandic Sagas. The Long Ships is an excellent novel and The Icelandic Sagas are epic tales written from the 8th to 11th centuries. You can find them both on Amazon and I don’t think you’ll be disappointed with either.

    • HI Beatbox – Thanks for the recommendations. I’ve not read The Long Ships, but will put it on the list. I’ve read a few of the sagas (Njall’s Saga, most recently), the Penguin Classics editions, and they are rich, and very real, very accessible. The tension and violence in them make the dramas of American Westerns seem pretty weak in comparison!

  2. An amazing article, Matt. Thanks. It reminds me of how important the details can be (Should be?) and how easy we tend to accept things on face value only.

    Your article also reminded me of Follett’s ‘The Pillars of the Earth’. I read the book many years ago and I recall being fascinated by the design process of the cathedrals and the amount of work that went into building these giants. The details of the aforesaid made for a good story because I enjoyed the book.

    On a side note, part of my research for “The Spirit Bow” took me to the Cedars of Lebanon. As I delved deeper into my story’s time period, I discovered the value cedar wood held for ancient people, and the many uses, including ‘magical properties’, they had for the wood. 🙂

    • Thanks, Woelf – I love Pillars. Follett hit just the right note of drama, history, but also those telling details about the construction of the cathedrals. I almost laugh to think what his editor/agent thought when he told them he wanted to follow up Eye of the Needle with an 800 page tome about old churches, lol. But thank goodness somebody ran with it, because it’s a classic (now, his Code to Zero…that could’ve used an editor wiht a stronger spine).

      Re: cedars, that’s fascinating. Let me know if you’ve written about it or will. I’ve always been struck by the passages in the Old Testament that talk about the cedars of Lebanon, being spoken of as if they were as precious as gold.

      • I didn’t know that, lol. Can you imagine the amount of research that went into that book? Oh, man!

        I have not read Code to Zero, but I will put it on my very, very, long list of books to read.

        Spirit Bow is a fantasy novel that I’ve been developing for the last six months or so, based on a short story I wrote a year prior to that. It takes place on a young antediluvian earth. I won’t bore you with all the details, but when I did my research I ended up reading about the history of the Sumerians, their myths and legends and it just sparked some ideas and gave new life to my story. Actually, it changed it completely. Part of the plot requires my hero to travel to a mythical forrest to find a magical tree (Simplified). I did some research on location and, of course, discovered the history of the Cedars of Lebanon and the nearby “Holy Valley”. At one time Lebanon’s cedar forests were legendary and vast. Centuries of deforestation destroyed what once must have been a magnificent sight. Solomon’s great temple, for instance, was constructed from Lebanon cedars. I read that the resin of a cedar protects it from most, if not all insects, which makes it one of the strongest and healthiest trees in the world, along with it being the most ancient. The Egyptians used the resin for mummification. it was even used to treat leprosy. The wood itself had many uses. The list just goes on really.

        I tend to disappear when I do research. I get too enthralled. 😉

  3. Sounds like a very fun place to visit..As for what you said about ideas, you could pull a Harlan Ellison and say “I get my ideas from Schenectady”. 🙂

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