Jennifer Lohr has beautifully captured the Viking essence in her historically themed novella, Baltic Mist. Aside from the lyrical prose, Baltic Mist wraps readers in a cocoon of rich, earthy narrative that is deceptively addictive, blending fantasy, history and good story-telling.
Baltic Mist follows a young woman’s journey from Norse farm girl during the 11th century to transformation into a Volva, a powerful seer. The story plays out against the turbulence of Scandinavia’s conversion to Christianity but doesn’t touch on that aspect until closer to the end.
Ms. Lohr has obviously done her research into Norse history and it shows. Her meticulous descriptions are both fascinating and educational. Helga’s character development and back story from infancy to maturity is well structured and cited with specific incidents at various stages of her life to portray growth. While the story contains a lot of narrative, it is neither boring nor sluggish.
This is a delightful foray into a historical setting that should please fans of historical fiction, Viking lore and fantasy. I love the fact it is based on a manuscript heralding a real life Viking but I believe readers searching for a fictional story utilizing a realistic historical setting will truly enjoy Baltic Mist. The genre is listed as Cultural Heritage, Legends and Mythology but I’m not sure those provide an adequate description.
Baltic Mist is a novella, and the first installment in a series.
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A Timeless Saga
Genre: Cultural Heritage, Legends, Mythology
Publisher: An Ancient Approach
Number of pages: 113 ebook – 246 print
Word Count: 27,452
Cover Artist: Jennifer Lohr
Baltic Mist – A Timeless Saga is Jen Lohr’s next big creation.
It all began when she came across Egil’s Saga, written in the mid11th century, chronicling the life of Egil Skallagrimsson. The history surrounding the Viking awakened within Jen an unquenchable thirst for knowledge of the Norse culture. A story was soon born, seen through the eyes of a young woman named Helga, originating from a character in Egil’s Saga.
Baltic Mist begins on a farm Norway, and takes the reader through the epic adventures of Helga’s enchanting life. Beginning in Book One, her tale falls against the backdrop of Scandinavia’s conversion to Christianity. The saga continues in Books two and three to a finale that no one, even Helga herself, could have ever imagined!
A must read!
CHAPTER ONE –Journey home with me.
My name is Mist, and know it was your fate, decided ages ago, to hear my tale. I am a legend whose legacy you are now part of, as you join me in history. Know as you read this: all is as it should be, for there are no accidents. Destiny has brought you and I together, our connection has finally been made. This day was once foreseen, and your time to know me has come. Although I breathed in the air centuries before as you do now, pieces of me continue on. Come, as I now wish to show you not who I was, but rather who I am….
Follow me back to my time, before the likes of all that you know now, here and today.Visit alongside me my beloved northern homeland as it once was, so very long ago. Behold its massive forests – so lush, green, and already ancient by the time of my existence. Come to where great cascading rivers spill over rocky cliffs, where their spray can be felt, splashing on the rolling hills below.
The dawning of my life was a special time for my parents. I would be their first born maid-child. I took my first breaths during the period after theYule Festival and before the coming of spring,when the earth gave way to a warmer sun and seeds of growth. After my birth it was told my mother, Hilde, accepted me by permitting me to nurse milk from her breast. It was then my father tearfully held me on his knee and passionately announced,”It is known, a daughter has been born: Helga Thorfinsdotter…she belongs to me, Thorfinn Bondesson. I choose her name in honor of my mother,who is now among the dead.” He then sprinkled drops of water over my tiny infant body.
This was the way I became a member of my family, officially, and they rejoiced in the goddesses Frigg and Freyja. Many were grateful to the two goddesses for delivering me safely from my mother’s womb, while leaving her unscathed and in good health, for I was brought forth humbly, with the assistance of only a single helping-woman when typically two were needed. Mother bore me at our home in the region of Eida Skog, within the immense forest at the heart of Norway.
Soon after, my mother’s belly brought upon our household another blessing of a child.
This birth was that of a boy-child. He healthily suckled and grew past the age of concern where sadly, many an infant did not thrive beyond. He was named Helgi, and grew to be a strong, fearless young man. His bravery matched warriors twice his age, and he lived true to the laws of the land. Helgi was a fine addition to complement the pride found in our honorable name.
My parents’ marriage was not the typical wedded arrangement of our time. Hilde’s parents hadn’t the chance to follow through in their own agreement; sadly, they succumbed to a terrible illness -one which she and her brothers thankfully survived. After their parents were gone, the hardship of managing their sheep farm was very difficult for Hilde’s brothers; and they decided against marrying her off. They guarded her interests of any wedding negotiations, in replacement of their father.
Two men very suitable to wed had been turned down by her brothers.It became apparent to Hilde their indecision was not the reason for the refusals, but rather their reluctance to become short-handed. Legally, she was permitted to accept the third proposal from Thorfinn’s family, and she did.
After the feasting of the celebration, she joined Thorfinn in Eida Skog. Accompanied by her rightful portion of sheep from her family’s farm, she began her new role as woman of the house.This was the way we Norse lived. Ownership of livestock, land, and other assets over-ruled love, a factor absent in the conditions of a marriage.
Hilde often statedIwould follow her lineage of women-folk, all of whom were versed in the distinctive and specialized gift of seiðr –the ability to see things that others could not, and know truths unspoken to most. Hilde herself was acclaimed as a well-known prophetess, known to my people as a völva.
Since mother was versed in the art of seiðr, she frequently traveled to assist others with her skill. With her wand as her companion, she donned an elaborate cloak-hooded, lined with fur, and ornamented with jeweled pieces. Its blue shade held special meaning, symbolizing death; but such reference did not indicate evil, but rather the wisdom held by these seeing women. It was believed by my people much knowledge could be gained from those who had passed on into the realm of the dead, just as our god Odin did, when he desired to learn of his future. He rose up from death a very wise völva, so ancient she was older than the giants that once walked the earth She was present at the very beginning of creation. She explained to him how all came to be.
“You, too, will practice as a völva one day, daughter. Know of the lineage from which you come, since my mother and her clan of mothers before are of the goddess Frigg.This is where my power of prophecy comes from, little Helga. “She first told me when I was a small child, only three years of age, in her usual confident tone.
“When will I see, mother?” My tiny voice asked her as I squinted my eyes, to better concentrate and focus. Mother looked down at me, smiling.
About the Author:
Jen was first published when she was a sophomore in High School, and has been writing short stories ever since. The Baltic Mist series is her fictional novel debut. She lives in upstate New York with her husband and their four children.
In the News – Feature in CN Weekly: http://www.cnweekly.com/articles/2014/02/26/news/doc530e0c8500ec4112776886.txt?viewmode=fullstory