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Sutcliff Swap!

The 2014 collection is open! I haven't read all the stories yet...

But I have read my gift, Fiat Justicia by opalmatrix. It's all about Aunt Honoria, a minor character in The Silver Branch who I personally consider to be more interesting than the protagonists, and she really lives up to that billing in this story, being both awesome and ruthless!

motetus drew me an Aunt Honoria as a treat, and she is a perfect fit with the story.  There is even more Aunt Honoria to look forward to in the other stories too.  She seems to be turning into something of a third century version of Judi Dench's M, which is a move that one can really only applaud delightedly.

With bonus extra Vikings!
I wrote two things for Sutcliff Swap this year, and both of them were kind of Vikingy:

Born in the Purple is ostensibly a Blood Feud story - although to be honest there is a bushel of history in there and not much more than a teaspoon of Sutcliff. My heroine, Anna Porphyrogenita, the princess of Constantinople who was sold to the Viking Rus in 988AD in return for an army, only appears by report in Blood Feud, and was a real person.

I had a lot of fun researching Constantinople and the Rus (although in the end there was less Rus than I'd intended).   It was a difficult story to write though, because it's basically the story about forced marriage that I managed to wangle my way out of writing when I wrote about Flavia.   I don't know why I chose to come back to that theme, given that I'm sure I've complained before that historical fiction has way too much rape in it, and far too few people with hernias or toothache or being trampled by cows.   Maybe next time I should make an effort and have everyone tragically trampled by cows or killed by a randomly collapsing building.

The second thing I wrote was:
Audrsaga, for osprey_archer. It's a Sword Song story, based on Sutcliff's last and posthumously published novel about a hot-tempered Viking boy who is given a five-year sentence of exile for murder in around 890AD, and spends the time wandering around Dublin and the Western isles as a sword-for-hire.   He ends up in the Hebrides and Caithness, working for first Thorstein the Red, and then his mother, Aud the Deep-minded.  Like Anna, Aud and Thorstein were real people.  Aud is one of the founder-figures of Iceland, so she appears in a number of the Icelandic sagas, as well as being one of the more memorable characters in Sword Song.    The prompt asked what Aud did after she sailed out of the book to settle on Iceland.

This was much easier to write!  According to both the sagas and Sutcliff, Aud was a portly lady in her early sixties, a Christian in a period when most Vikings weren't, and very definitely a personality.   If I hadn't been struggling to write about Anna at the same time it could easily have been much longer, and I think I may try to take it up to at least the point where Aud sets up her own settlement at Hvamm. 

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