Hervor dressed like a man, fought, killed and pillaged under her male surname Hjörvard. She grew up as a slave, but when she finally found out that she was the daughter of Angantyr owner of the magic sword, Tyrfing, she set out to claim the sword as her rightful inheritance.
Hervor let nothing stand in her way. When none of her crew would dare to embark on the haunted island of Samsey, she did it herself. Approaching the fires above the ghostly grave barrows she summoned her father to reveal himself with such harsh words that her father’s voice commanded her not to pursue her quest for Tyrfing. She would not give in but shouted for her rightful inheritance.
At last the grave opened and in its center a fire was shining and there she saw her father. He warned her that the sword would bring death to the whole clan if she used it. This only made her words harsher. She persisted until at last the sword was cast out of the grave and she eagerly gripped it, bid farewell to her dead kinsmen and walked to the shore.
Her ships were gone, but she made her way to Gudmud of Glæsisvellir and taught the king to play the Viking board game of tafl. However, nobody could mess with her, and she killed a courtier when he tried to unsheathe Tyrfing after she left it unattended on a chair. So she left and resumed her Viking activities of killing men for money.
. . .More cheery in battle
Than chatting to suitors
Or taking the bench
At a bridal feast.
More on Hervor in my next posting.
Meanwhile, I’m reading Stieg Larsson’s hugely popular The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. By now I’d guess most of you have read it. And yes, it’s filled with the fatalism of the Nordic Saga. The Stoic methodical practicality of sifting through hundreds of photographs and police records. Dogged, monotonous procedures.
But it’s also filled with Lisabeth Salander, the embodiment of 21st-century shieldmaiden. None too ladylike, she seeks the only law available in tribal society, revenge.