A New Excerpt from DOMINION by Lissa Bryan #dystopian #romance #postapoc #eotwawki

“What are we waiting for? Let’s go.”

She took hold of his arm. “No, we’re not going into the town. Not yet anyway. We don’t know if the Nine are here.”

They’d seen them pass on the horses while they hid in the car, but he didn’t expect them to linger. “Would they be waiting?”

“I would if it was me hunting someone. I’d know that I would most likely head to the nearest town, and people here know me, so yeah, it would be smart to leave some guys here to wait.”

“So what are we going to do?”

“Wait until I see a friendly face.”

The sun crept by overhead. As they waited, Taylor let Go out to crawl around in the grass, and Dylan found watching the turtle to be more entertaining than staring at the horizon as Taylor was doing. He was startled when she finally touched his shoulder and whispered, “I’ll be back.” In a silent bound, she was over the brush and gone.

“Just you and me, buddy,” Dylan muttered to Go, who seemed to be rather unconcerned as he munched on a dandelion.

Dylan craned his neck and saw Taylor following a girl at a distance down the road. The girl had bright blond hair that gleamed in the sunlight, and she was carrying a plastic pail over one arm. They disappeared around a corner, and Dylan sighed. It was hot, and the ground was damp, the moisture seeping through his pants. He shifted to try to find a comfortable spot, but it was impossible. He didn’t want to lay out his sleeping bag in case Taylor came back and said they had to run. He needed to be in a position where all he had to do was grab Go and split. But minutes seemed to stretch into hours.

Finally he heard a faint rustle and peeked through the foliage to see Taylor returning alone. “I talked to someone,” she said, crouching down beside him. “It was Brandy. I’ve traded honey with her a few times. She seems cool. I told her a few of the things we need, and she’s going back into town to get them.”

“Has she seen the Nine?”

“She says they haven’t talked to her, but she’s heard of men asking around town for me. So she understood why I didn’t want to go in. She said she would get us the stuff we need from her dad’s shop.”

“Did she have a pair of shoes that would fit you?”

“She thought they did. At this point, almost anything would be better than these.”

Minutes ticked by and the only sounds were the buzzing of insects and the rustle of leaves in the wind.

“Do you think you can trust her?”

“No. But there aren’t many people I do trust. That’s why I set it up this way. I’ll be able to see her when she comes out of town, and we’ll know right away if she’s bringing stuff . . . or trouble.” Taylor took out her bow and watched the road through her scope.

It turned out to be trouble. Brandy emerged on the road followed by two men carrying rifles. They headed down toward the spot where Taylor had met with her before. Taylor swore and rolled over onto her back, staring up at the sky. “Okay, so Martinville is out.”

“Think those guys are Nine?”

“They’re not comin’ to share the good word of Jesus.” She turned to look at him, and her eyes were hard. “You need to make a decision now, Dylan. And there probably isn’t any turning back from it, so make sure it’s what you want to do. You can get up and walk into Martinville right now. They won’t know you were with me. You could make up a new name. Start over. I’ll give you half the supplies like we agreed. It’s enough to get you started out, if they’ll let you in. You can find a job as a laborer. Make a new life for yourself. You’ll be safe. As safe as anyone is these days, that is.”

She took a deep breath. “Or you can come with me. You know what that entails. But you have to decide now.”

He looked at the road for a moment, just a moment. She was right. He might be able to make a new life inside those gates. He didn’t know what kind of life it would be, but it would be a life, anyway. Providing some stability, some safety.

But he looked up at Taylor’s hazel eyes, and he knew there wasn’t actually a decision to be made. He already knew what he wanted to do. “I’m coming with you.”

Taylor’s face blossomed into a smile—so sweet and bright it was like watching the sun break over the horizon. It changed her in that moment from the hard, tough young woman he knew into something achingly beautiful, and he wished he could see a smile on her face like that more often.

The moment ended too quickly. She glanced back through the brush. “Come on.”

DOMINION is part of The End of All Things series and will be released in December, 2016


A generation has passed since the pandemic known only as the Infection ended the world as we know it. In a little town in the Appalachian Mountains, Taylor has known only a harsh and brutal struggle for survival in a land littered with the rusted-out remnants of a lost world. By day, she labors in a coal mine. In the evenings, she tends a secret collection of beehives, and uses the honey to pay for lessons in survival skills, such as hunting, fishing, and collecting herbs. Her home is a single room in a crumbling old motel, and her only companion is a pet box tortoise named Go she’s had since she was a child.
When her town is destroyed by a vicious gang of raiders known as the Nine, Taylor escapes with Dylan, the son of the mayor. Their only plan is to head south and escape the Nine’s vast territory, avoiding areas contaminated by meltdowns and industrial pollution where mysterious illnesses plague the residents.
Dylan has never known hunger or hardship and struggles to learn survival skills. He’s never known a woman like Taylor, either. He tries to pay her back by teaching her to read, and telling her the stories passed down from the world of Before.
They certainly didn’t plan on falling in love. Taylor fights it every step of the way, because in her world, any emotional attachment is dangerous. She’s been taught since childhood that love slows you down, makes you weak.  But the feelings growing between them cannot be denied.
Taylor finds herself slowly breaking every one of her hard-learned rules of survival. She discovers that perhaps some of those things she’s always fought to avoid are the very things that make life worth living.

… And death shall have no dominion …
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New #PostApocalyptic Novel by Lissa Bryan: DOMINION #EOTWAWKI #Dystopian

Return to the world of The End of All Things thirty years later...


A generation has passed since the pandemic known only as the Infection ended the world as we know it. In a little town in the Appalachian Mountains, Taylor has known only a harsh and brutal struggle for survival in a land littered with the rusted-out remnants of a lost world. By day, she labors in a coal mine. In the evenings, she tends a secret collection of beehives, and uses the honey to pay for lessons in survival skills, such as hunting, fishing, and collecting herbs. Her home is a single room in a crumbling old motel, and her only companion is a pet box tortoise named Go she’s had since she was a child.

When her town is destroyed by a vicious gang of raiders known as the Nine, Taylor escapes with Dylan, the son of the mayor. Their only plan is to head south and escape the Nine’s vast territory, avoiding areas contaminated by meltdowns and industrial pollution where mysterious illnesses plague the residents.

Dylan has never known hunger or hardship and struggles to learn survival skills. He’s never known a woman like Taylor, either. He tries to pay her back by teaching her to read, and telling her the stories passed down from the world of Before.

They certainly didn’t plan on falling in love. Taylor fights it every step of the way, because in her world, any emotional attachment is dangerous. She’s been taught since childhood that love slows you down, makes you weak.  But the feelings growing between them cannot be denied.
Taylor finds herself slowly breaking every one of her hard-learned rules of survival. She discovers that perhaps some of those things she’s always fought to avoid are the very things that make life worth living.

And death shall have no dominion


 “Hey,” said a voice behind her.
Taylor whirled around, bringing the bat up to strike. She hadn’t even heard him, and that’s what terrified her.
The young man behind her jumped back, putting his hands up. “Whoa, whoa, don’t hit me.”
She quickly scanned his arms and didn’t see any tattoos. She squinted at him, cocking her head to the side. “Don’t I know you?”
He looked vaguely familiar. He was just a bit taller than Taylor was, a little on the skinny side. His brown hair was neatly trimmed, and his jawline smoothly shaven with a hint of stubble poking through. He had dark circles beneath his blue eyes, and his pale skin had the look of someone who didn’t work outside much. She guessed him to be about her own age, somewhere in his early twenties.
“I’m Dylan.”
The mayor’s son. Now the memory clicked into place. “What are you doing here?”
“The same thing you are, I imagine. Escaping from that.” He pointed to the plume of dark smoke in the distance.
“How did you find me?” Taylor’s heart thudded in her chest. She didn’t think she’d been followed, but Dylan had managed to track her.
She forced herself to take a deep breath. If the Nine knew where she was, she’d be dead now.
“I saw you in the woods about a mile back and followed you here.”
God, was she so easy to follow? She’d thought she was being careful. “I didn’t think anyone else made it out.”
“Me either.” He shook one of his raised hands. “Do you mind lowering the bat?”
She narrowed her eyes at him. “Depends on what you want.”
That took him aback for a moment. “I—I don’t know. I just saw another survivor and thought . . .”
“This is my place,” Taylor said. “Mine.”
He nodded. “Yeah, I get you.”
Taylor lowered the bat. “You’d best move on.”
He gave a hollow, humorless laugh. “Where?”
“Like I care? Anywhere but here.” She couldn’t imagine he would have worried over what might happen to her if he was in her shoes.
He glanced around. “May I— I’m sorry, but I’ve been running all night. Just like you have, I imagine. Would it be okay if . . . I could rest for a bit? Maybe have some of those berries?”
Taylor considered. She needed them for travel. She should tell him to piss off and find his own bush. She should tell him everyone was on their own in this world. She should tell him . . .
She thought of Grace. Grace who had sat down on the sidewalk beside Taylor as they carried her mother out and laid a hand over Taylor’s shoulder and asked if she had any supper.
“You pick ‘em,” Taylor said. She began to pluck berries and drop them in her bag.

DOMINION will be released in December, 2016

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I Have An Announcement of Something Really Cool...

I'm really excited about this.

On June 29th at 9PM, I'm going to be participating in Jess Molly's author takeover at the RRR Blog Facebook page. I'll be taking a turn at the wheel, and that's when I'll make the announcement.

Yeah, you've probably already guessed what it is, given my profession.

But I'm going to reveal the title and blurb, so come and join us for the takeover, have some fun, and win some prizes.

You'll need to join the RRR Blog's group ahead of the event to be able to participate. The link is here.

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A Chat with New Author Jess Molly Brown

We had a previous chat with Jess Molly back when she was a fanfiction writer and aspiring author.  Now, she’s taken the plunge and published her first book, Moms on Missions.  Everybody, welcome Jess back to the blog!

Jess: Hi guys! *waves*

Lissa: Well, Jess, here you are on the Dark Side, and as you’ve discovered, we don’t have cookies. The cookies were a lie.

Jess: You’re so mean to me. *sobs* I was looking for the raspberry chocolate Mallomars.  I’m starving here. I’m an author living in a cellar without cookies. How could you?

Lissa: You’re an author. You’re supposed to starve. And pose broodily in front of windows in an unheated garret in Paris. And write long, eloquent letters on a typewriter about how this torture fuels your writing. Didn’t you get the memo? It should have been in your welcome packet.

Jess*grumbles* I thought it was just a directive on self-promotion.

Lissa: But I’m sure you’ve discovered some aspects of publishing that you’ve enjoyed. What’s been your favorite part so far?

JessIt’s quite fun telling people I’m a published author. If I had a dollar for every time someone’s jaw drops I might be able to move out of the cellar.

Okay. I really enjoyed seeing my manuscript take on its professional form in Kindle format. There were so many things I wanted to add to my ebook and I got to try out most of them. For instance, Vince’s website, Mommageddon, links to a page on my website. If a reader touches the hyperlink, they travel to my site. Making that was fun.

Lissa: I’ve heard of the hyperlinks-in-books thing. It’s supposed to make the reading experience more fun and interactive.  The younglings like it, or so I’ve heard.  Look at you, all trendy and stuff!

JessWho woulda thunk, eh? But anyone who meets me will discover what a nerd I am.

Lissa: What’s been your least favorite part? For me, it’s a lack of time to write.

JessThere’s never enough time in the day. I have to be hyper-organized and I always feel I’m not. I actually enjoy the marketing aspects of being an Indie, but they’re time consuming.

Lissa: I amend my previous answer: The marketing is the part I like the least. It’s so hard for me to approach people about my books.

Jess: I’ve actually rehearsed saying, “I’m a published author.” Now I’m over that hurdle, but I plan out my support requests to bloggers to a ridiculous degree. I’m hoping it becomes a habit and I can stop overthinking what I’m going to say. On the upside, everyone’s been lovely.

Lissa: Honest to God, I really thought when I first published that all I had to do was write the thing and the publisher would take care of all the rest. As I learned—much to my dismay— that isn’t really a thing these days, even with the big publishing houses.

Jess: Yes, everyone I know says that. They don’t do it anymore. The author must promote herself. It’s one of the reasons I decided to go Indie.

Lissa: Your success is directly tied to how much you work for it. Unless, of course, you’re one of those authors who gets hit by the mysterious and seemingly arbitrary lightning bolt of fame.

JessWouldn’t you love to know the key to that? It must be possible, although I’d be happy right now just to earn enough to pay some bills. I was shocked to discover my book sitting at #155 in Comedy Romance on Amazon (which lasted about five minutes) because I only sold seven books that day. That means that out of 60, 000+ Comedy Romances, only 154 books sold more than seven copies. That was a real eye-opener and redefined the definition of success for me. Am I giving away author secrets by revealing that?

 Finding time to write is quite difficult. I didn’t understand that before I had a book of my own.

Lissa: I imagine it’s even worse for you, because I didn’t have to worry about the myriad little aspects of formatting and coordinating pre-readers and such.

JessThe formatting was easy because I hired out.  Even though I have a substantial number of followers, getting people to read and review ARCs was unexpectedly difficult. I haven’t learned the trick yet for picking a good Release Day. I was basing it on my own calendar rather on what will get attention, and several of the people to whom I sent ARCs were just too swamped to review immediately. I think that’s probably par for the course, but just in case, I should learn to consult the web. The internet has answers for everything, thank God.

Lissa: What made you finally decide to take the plunge and self-publish? There had to be a single moment where you said, “This is it. I’m doing it.”

JessYeah, a lot of considerations factored in. It took me a while to take the plunge because I didn’t think I knew enough about it to do a good job. Maybe it comes down to, “Why not?” Of course, I’ve picked up a lot of knowhow since I started writing MOMs in 2012. I had some interaction with publishing houses and I was planning to go that route. However, there’s a ton of waiting involved. If one’s book does get accepted by a house, it’s still going to take about two years to get the book on shelves. Plus, there were three major things that drew me to traditional publishing. The first is the amount of exposure a house can provide. One can’t really argue with that. The second was my belief that the house would take care of many factors for me—like covers, editing and marketing. But those things haven’t proven as difficult to do as I imagined. The third attraction was my erstwhile belief that a house would protect me and my work from plagiarists and take care of other legal issues. Unfortunately, I’ve heard from many friends that their houses haven’t succeeded in preventing theft. That was a huge determining factor in my decision.

Regardless, after major revisions to the story, I was going to resubmit to the house I favored. And then a friend who’s a popular author sat me down in 2015 and told me I should self-pub. I thanked her and said I didn’t think it was for me and then another six months went by with no progress. It got to the point where I thought the story was good enough to sell itself and I’d built a solid social media base. So, I finally listened to my friend and I’m glad I did.

The thing that appealed to me the most about self-pub was the total control I’d have over my work. I got to literally shape the book, choose my publishing date and market it. It hardly takes any time at all to self-pub. Once I applied for copyright, I had the book up in five weeks and it could have gone up sooner but I wanted more advance marketing. The two longest parts of the process for me were getting the professional edit done, and waiting for my cover artist (my daughter) to complete the painting used on the cover.

Lissa: You and I are so different in this respect. I was hoping I wouldn’t have to make all of those decisions about my book. And then here comes my publisher asking me to pick the cover art. With every book, that’s been an intensely frustrating process for me. The last time, I picked some images and my cover artist very gently suggested, “Um, why don’t we go with something entirely different?” and came up with this really awesome design on her own. Such a relief!

JessI love it when that happens. I actually have a short story prepared to publish but I decided it will wait until I’ve written the first book of the trilogy that follows it. One of my friends made three potential covers for me after she read it and I’d never have imagined anything so lovely.

Lissa: Did you go into MOMs with an idea of what you wanted for the cover image, or did your daughter come up with the design all on her own?

JessWhat a wonderful question. You know, I studied art in high school and loved it, but I have the worst time coming up with visual concepts. Some authors are so incredibly talented at making their own covers. T.M. Franklin is one. Vera Nazarian is another. I admire their talent immensely and I totally lack that kind of vision.

I had four years to play around with the idea of covers for the Mommageddon Series. I sucked at it. I naturally wanted something that would visually integrate the books in the series and could only come up with two ideas. One was moms knitting baby booties and young couples objecting. The other was the couple’s hands. I considered using Vince’s hand wielding a paintbrush and Dani’s wielding a drumstick as though they were having a swordfight. The thing I disliked about that was that I wanted to keep Vince’s love interest a secret. That’s a major spoiler for the book. I’ve come to realize that I can’t keep Dani’s name out of reviews. Reviewers love her and they use her name all the time. Hopefully, the misunderstanding at the beginning of the story still reads as funny.

It got to the point where I desperately needed a cover that could be altered to fit the entire series. As the MOMs are spies, I suggested to my daughter that a mother using binoculars to spy on her offspring might work. Conri came up with this wonderful cover, where the mother is spying on two young people. Vince is in one lens, looking ticked off, and Dani is in the other. I laughed aloud when Conri first showed me the rough work, and I think it hurt her feelings. But I am going to continue to use variations on this cover. The next cover will feature a glaring brunette MOM. The one after that will have a blond MOM with her mouth hanging open. It’s going to be fun. Of course, I have about seven plots in my head so this could go on for a long time.

 Lissa: Did you have moments where all of the myriad aspects (formatting, editing, cover art, etc.) made you say, “Man, I’m not sure if I can do this after all?”

JessMay was interesting. LOL! My son had an angioplasty and a stent put in (his fifth heart procedure—he’s now 20) AND my laptop was away for repair. I published my debut novel while out of town and without a computer. Who does that, really?

I knew from the get-go there would be too much for me to do so I hired a formatting service to pop the manuscript into Kindle format and I hired a PR person to do a Cover Reveal, Release Day Blitz and Review Tour. Well, I’m sure I drove my formatter nuts because I wanted these special bells and whistles in the book. There are 54 chapters and 44 are the standard maximum. There are little picture symbols placed before each change in Point of View, representing the main characters. There are different fonts and several hyperlinks. It took a while for the poor soul to find a way to make it all work. She did! But there were a few worrisome days there where I was sure I’d bitten off more than I could chew. And then, when I was certain the book was ready to roll, there was a glitch with the Blog Tour and it took some time to work out. I was really biting my nails. At first, there were no sales and I thought I’d run away from a traditional job and joined the wrong circus. But as a dear friend kept telling me, this business is a marathon not a sprint. I think I’m going to do all right.

Lissa: I’ve likened it more to Sisyphus, eternally pushing his boulder up a hill. Because for Indies, it doesn’t really stop. With traditional publishers, most books have a shelf life. If they don’t become successful, they don’t stay in print. For us, we’re living with our books long-term. And we have to keep supporting them and building an audience, one reader at a time.

It’s good in some ways, because we don’t have a small window of time in which we have to “make it” in order to keep going. We have the luxury of time, but on the other hand… We have a long road ahead of us.

JessI agree. The upside is, we can keep our books in view and available if that’s our desire. People who rely on traditional print books and bookstores must rely on their next best book in order to survive. If you look on a bookshelf in a store, how many authors do you see with multiple books? It’s a small percentage. Not a ton of those authors make it big. They sell the book once and then if the buyer resells it (second hand), they don’t see any profit. It’s a one shot deal. Print books are more expensive to buy for just that reason. As well, it bothers me that unbought print books are returned to the publishing house or destroyed. I love print books, but I find ebooks to be more environmentally responsible. I only buy my very favorite books in print format.

Indies can produce an ebook for much less money and we can make more profit per book, even though the books are cheaper to buy. We who make ebooks can not only reissue books whenever we want, we can edit them, discount them and even make them free in order to draw readers to our other books. It’s a renewable resource. I like that.

Lissa: Most important question: What do Tonka and Molly think now that their human is an author?

JessThey think there should be more sessions of Play Fetch. And more Greenies. Aside from that, they’re singularly unimpressed. I guess they’re keeping it real for me.

Lissa: My Little Dog was happy about it, because his favorite activity in the world is sleeping at my feet, so more keyboard time means more feet-sleeping time, but the Big Dog comes by every now and then to lay her head on my lap as if to say, “I’m alive. Remember me?” She loved to cuddle up with me in my reading chair, but there’s no room in my office chair. It’s an unsatisfactory situation all around, as far as she’s concerned.

Per doctor’s orders, I’m now going outside once in a while. I’m taking walks in the woods with them, which they both like.

JessA-ha! Your doctor’s orders or the vet’s? I’ve been noticing you’ve been leaving your cave a lot more often of late.

Lissa: Human doctor. She's concerned about my bones and Vitamin D. She actually asked me if I could take my laptop out into the yard and sit under a tree or something.

JessI am also under orders to get off my backside. I’m a stress eater and I’ve managed to pack on a substantial amount of weight in the past couple of years. It’s not going to be easy to break the habit. I can’t do any intensive exercise without falling over due to vertigo. And I’m allergic to healthy food.
Lissa: Are you planning on doing any live events, like book signings?

JessThat would imply I had something made out of paper that could be signed. Someday, I’d love to do that. Right now, I’m sticking to e-books. I don’t even have any swag yet.

Lissa: One of the authors I met signed postcards that had her book cover on the front. I’ve seen people sign thumb-drives that have their ebooks on them, too.

JessWhat a fantastic idea. I’ve considered getting postcards. I may actually have to do it! And I love the idea of the thumb-drives but I’m actually attempting to do this publishing thing on the cheap. It’s definitely an attractive possibility. See? I learned something new! Thanks.

I’m a bit scared of conferences as I’m so introverted. Someone would have to walk me around and introduce me to people. Also, I would be scared to death to do a panel. Oddly, I wouldn’t mind reading aloud to people. I used to do that all the time in high school and I loved it.

Lissa: I’ve never done a reading. Which is good, because I’m not very good at reading aloud. I have a tendency to skip ahead and read the next line and then get lost in the story until I suddenly blink and say, “Oh! Where was I?”

JessIt’s the one thing I can do. I auditioned for plays in high school but I’m miserable at memorizing dialogue. I’m good at reading aloud. I read the Potter books aloud to my kids and used over 30 different voices.

My husband, just so you know, hates it when I act out voices. I read one of the early drafts of MOM aloud to him and he got mad because I kept doing male voices. He finds it really irritating and I can’t read characters’ words in my own voice. It stops me cold.

Lissa: What has been your favorite review so far?

JessI honestly can’t pick one. I have this small but beautiful set of insightful, eloquent reviews. I sent some of them to a friend who made me pic quotes I could use to market the book. I love to look at them.

Lissa: Come on… Pick a favorite! We’ll put the image right here so everyone can enjoy it.

JessI don’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings by picking one, but if you’re gonna twist my arm…

Lissa: Do you think you experience anything different as a Canadian author as opposed to an American?

Jess: I dunno. I’m in the closet. I don’t want to be written up as a local author. I’m still terrified the kids from the high school will come knocking.

Lissa: I didn’t want to be written up as a “local author,” either. I still don’t have any of my books in the local store. It was hard enough admitting to my family what I was doing, let alone the community at large.

JessMy parents have each bought a copy of my book. *hyperventilates* I am bluffing my way into flaunting myself but I really want to die whenever I think about them reading it. My mother-in-law wants a copy but she doesn’t own a computer or phone to read it on. I’m going with that excuse not to provide one. *shifty eyes*

 I imagine there are a lot of American authors who feel like hiding under rocks, too. I suspect I will pay more taxes. Yeah. That’s it. Higher taxes. And if I meet a psycho fan, there’s a smaller chance I’ll get shot. Win!

Lissa: I imagine a Canadian psycho fan might bring maple syrup and hockey pucks for their dastardly deeds, but they’d do them very politely.

JessThe maple syrup is a dastardly plan. It would attract bees, resulting in a gruesome death. As for the pucks, I’d be more afraid of somebody holding a hockey stick. Anybody can whack someone with a hockey stick, it’s an almost unavoidable occurrence. But it’s hard to aim a puck. While it would be deadly, it takes talent. Plus, I might just be able to reason with a hockey fan. Anybody who loves hockey enough to carry a stick around is going to care more about talking hockey than doing me bodily harm. Hockey rules, eh?
Lissa: How do you think this experience made you grow as a writer?

JessHow many hours do you have to hear my answer? First, there were the Beta readers and pre-readers. Three of my Betas have English degrees. One has her Masters. Then, I got feedback from professional editors and acquisitions people. Plus, I write with friends. Plus, I get feedback from readers. Everyone I meet teaches me something. Rejection hurts but it can teach one things. I think being open to feedback is hard at first. You have to be mature in face of critique. I am eager to learn because that hones my voice.

Lissa: That’s a tough one. You have this innate urge to clutch your “beautiful baby” and shout back “How dare you? My darling is perfect!” I remember in my very first book, I had this long section on the anarchist bombings of 1919. I really liked it, but my editor told me it had to go. It was an “info dump.” A historical one, yes, but an info dump just the same. I argued with her. I said all of that historical detail was necessary so the reader would understand the time period. But eventually I had to admit she was right. It slowed down the story, and there was no real purpose for it. I was able to get the same plot point across in a single sentence.

JessIt’s necessary to maintain forward momentum at all times. Anything nonessential must go. Deciding what needs to be cut is the challenge.

Lissa: Did you have to kill any “darlings?”

JessAbsolutely. Remember that major rewrite? I took out a fantastic villain because he was too dark for the story. Vince would have been a true hero, had I left the climax in. Pre-readers loved it but professional editors didn’t. They knew the subplot was too nasty for this book. I’ll use it in something else someday. A thriller perhaps.

As well, I had a scene where Vince and Dani’s moms show up to put them through the Italian Inquisition, but it had a lot of similarities to the scene that takes place in his studio later. It was redundant so it had to go, but wow did it hurt. I was very attached to that scene.
I also cut the majority of a scene about Vince’s ex. Although it highlighted the fact that she was a horrible person, it was backstory. An author probably knows every second of the character’s life from conception to death (and beyond) but readers don’t need to know all of it. Detail’s awesome but it must be pertinent.

On the subject of growth, I know how to say things I couldn’t have said five years ago. I still train young writers. I want to remain connected.

Lissa: I truly believe we have a solemn duty to nurture and encourage “baby writers.” Starting out is such a fragile time. A few harsh words may snuff out their light, make them give up on the whole thing. Yeah, we’ve all read the quotes about how So-and-So had 1,452 rejections before they were able to publish and got these horrible, scathing critiques of their work. The lesson you’re supposed to take from this is that if you’re a “real writer” you can take any amount of rejection or harshness, but I don’t think that’s true. We’ve seen in the fanfiction world incidents where very talented writers walked away because they were beat down by the criticism they faced. And the world lost those stories, and whatever stories the writer would have given us in the future. That breaks my heart.

So, yeah, I think we do have a duty to try to take care of the “nestlings.” They may eventually grow to the point where nothing can faze them, but when they’re taking their first tentative steps, they need support and encouragement.

JessAbsolutely. I’ve had such awesome training—free of charge—from my Betas. The only way to pay back the favor is to train someone else. And you’re right, it is extremely easy to break a writer’s heart. Our characters aren’t just make-believe, they’re a very real part of our lives. Some people tell their stories very well and others haven’t acquired the skill. I see a lot of people state that they refuse to read a story that isn’t grammatically pristine. That’s a shame (not that I’m suggesting authors do less than their best to ensure their art is clever and legible). I know authors who do exhibit the occasional mistake, but the world without their story would be less shiny.

When I began writing fanfic in 2009, I didn’t know how to express what I wanted to express. I had to learn. Fanfic was a great school. An unbeatable education. That’s why I still train newbies.
This can be a lonely profession and yet at every turn I’m reminded that I’m part of a cultural mosaic. It all develops the voice and the inner character. Does that make sense?

Lissa: Totally. Because it’s true: this is a symbiotic relationship. A book doesn’t live until it’s in the mind and heart of a reader.

JessI love talking to you. Thanks again for hosting me.

Lissa: Always a pleasure!

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About Jess:

Don't be fooled by the seeming tranquility, Jess is scheming. There are a lot of characters in her head and all of them want out.

She edits for professional authors and is always tutoring somebody. She got her start six years ago, in fan fiction, and is proud of it.

Four great kids, one husband *coughbiggestkidofallcough* and two dogs ensure that the house is always messy. The garden's overflowing with blooms, but weedy. The grass always needs cutting, provided it's not buried beneath snow. She lives in Canada, eh? The dogs are walked, the kids get fed, the hubbs hasn't killed anybody yet, the books Jess reads she reviews, and somehow, the people in her head manage to make it into stories. Occasionally, she embarrasses her kids by doing Zumba in front of their friends. It's just how she rolls.

Come join her quest for world domination at jessmollybrownauthor.com

Author links:
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On Walden Pond... or in the Woods of Ohio. Same Thing, Really

While waiting for the second round of edits to come back on my new book in the End of All Things series, I've been going on frequent hikes in Ohio state parks. Not that I'm any sort of rugged outdoorswoman. I stick to the easier trails. But the thing about Ohio... It's hilly. And you don't think about how hilly it is until you find yourself huffing up some of those trails. But they often lead you to some stunning views.

A photo posted by Lissa Bryan (@lissabryan) on

I'd forgotten how restoring to the soul the woods can be. Only once I was hearing the soft crunch of leaf litter beneath my shoes and breathing in the green-scented breeze did my mind say, "Ah yes, I remember this!"

A photo posted by Lissa Bryan (@lissabryan) on

When I was a child, I spent many hours alone in the woods. There was a tiny creek I used to dutifully clear its little waterfalls of leaves, convinced I was helping it in some way.

One of my favorite places to go was deep in the woods where a massive oak tree stood. I've seen far bigger trees now as an adult, including California's famous redwoods, but as a kid, it was the most massive tree I'd ever seen, and every time I see a Tree of Life emblem, I think of it, and wonder if it's still there.

I found the woods a comforting place, as I do now.

A photo posted by Lissa Bryan (@lissabryan) on

It's funny. My main character in the next books spends the majority of her time in the woods, but I hadn't really gone back there myself in years. My life is in more urban environs now, and my increasingly reclusive nature keeps me in my "writer cave" more and more. I wrote it all from memory, what the woods of Appalachia are like.

I wish I'd gone back sooner. I needed this, and I didn't even know it. StumbleUpon Share on Tumblr

The #ShieldGeeks Review #VIKINGS "The Last Ship"

“These chicks are machines!” – The No Ship Network


By elithanathile on Tumblr

The Shieldmaidens of History (Protecting the Innocent from Anachronisms) welcome you back to our review series on the History Channel show Vikings. 

Historical fiction author Sandi Layne is with me again to discuss the historical aspects of the show. Sandi has written her own series on Vikings, both well-written and carefully researched. (You can read my review of the third book in the trilogy, Éire's Devil Kinghere.)

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I hate to start this review off with a concluding statement, but I've got to get this off my chest: for me, this is the lowest-rated Vikings episode in ... well... ever, I think. I was left deeply dissatisfied, confused, and irritated, not feelings I want to associate with a favorite show.

Sandi: Believe me when I say, "I hear you!" I think there will be considerable backlash from this episode. But. I am going to try to keep faith, grateful that the second half of the season will be happening in 2016, not 2017.

The episode started right where we left off, with Floki's ingenious floating platforms heading up river. Rollo, as we see, is on a ship of his own, floating down to meet his bother. Floki shouts to Rollo: “Rollo! Betrayer of the gods and of all the sacred things in Midgard! Come here you snake—come my way and let my axe slake its thirst on your blood. Come to Floki.” 

Courtesy of xdambe on Tumblr

Sandi: It was one of those wonderful shots this show does so well. The wide expanse of the fleets with more personal views of individuals. Rollo invokes the name of God, here, and I was surprised by that. Though he had technically "converted" to Christianity, one doesn't see him sounding like a Christian before this episode. He is paying lip-service, here, if nothing else. But that's more than he's done before, unbidden. This could be seen as an indirect response to Floki's challenge, actually. 

 In the streets of Paris, we see a priest walking through the crowds, giving them blessings and absolution before the battle. Gisla is in church, praying before a statue of the Virgin Mary, begging her to save her husband and the city.
As she weeps, the statue of the Virgin appears to weep as well. Gisla later offers Rollo's torc, placing it on the Virgin's feet. 

Sandi: This is a nice continuation from last episode, in which we discussed the exploitation of relics, real or invented, in this era. Did the statue of the Virgin Mary really cry? History shows that there are examples where statues were made to show tears to garner awe—and monetary gifts—from the faithful. I believe Gisla's prayers to be sincere, here, as definite affection has developed between her and Rollo.​ But it is odd that she is giving the Virgin Mary something Gisla herself would see as "pagan" in origin.​

Ragnar pops the last of his "Chinese medicine," and drops Yidu's empty pouch at his feet. 

Rollo gives his own men a stirring speech to inspire them to victory. “All of my life. And all of your lives have come to this point. There is nowhere else to be but here. Nowhere else to live or die but here. To be here now is the only thing that matters. So gather yourselves, gather all of your strength, and all of your sweetness into an iron ball, for we will attack again and again until we reach and overcome their king or we die in the attempt.” 

Courtesy of xdambe on Tumblr

Sandi: It's a great speech. Very much along the lines of what Henry V said in the eponymous play. Interesting, though, that Ragnar's use of the last of the Yidu-brand, there, was also considered inspiring. At least to his son Björn. And Lagertha was waiting to  hear if Ragnar thought the gods were with them. So, even speech-less, as it were, Ragnar was a source of inspiration to those who knew him best, even if not to Rollo's wider audience.

The ships collide in the water, and the battle ensues. It's wonderfully shot, as most Vikings battle scenes are, but most of the action is confined to the main platform where Lagertha, Ragnar, and Floki are.

Courtesy of vikingssource on Tumblr

Sandi: This is calculated for effect, I'm sure. The focus gives a more obvious purpose as to the benefit of the battle platforms, as well as letting the viewers focus on those who have become most important to many of us. You can see, though, the clear advantages to having the stable platforms amidst a naval fleet. It's not an aircraft carrier of modern times, but the room to launch arrows rather than airplanes is invaluable. 

 In the midst of the carnage, we see Simple Chuck with Roland and Therese at the dining table. He says that even as they speak, Count Rollo is fighting to save Paris. Roland tells him that He's made alternative plans for the defense of the city if Rollo happens to fail. Roland doesn't think Chuck should put all of his faith into a pagan. Chuck says that Rollo has not only his faith but his heart. Therese gives a small laugh and tells him that's stupid.

Sandi: This was rather baffling. Clearly, the Bobbsy Twins have seriously underestimated their ruler or overestimated their importance to him. Or both.

Chuck orders desert, which turns out to be Roland and Therese being garroted by the guards. Chuck nibbles on a bit of chicken and smiles as he watches them die.
 Sandi: Ew. But. What stands out to me is the new aspect to the Emperor Chuck's demeanor seen in the last couple of episodes. He's more defined, now. Stronger. Seeming more aware of power nuances than he had demonstrated before. Kudos to Lothaire Bluteau, who plays Charles in the show

We see Halfdan take an arrow.

Courtesy of xdambe on Tumblr

Floki is stabbed in the side as the Seer in Kattegat lets out a roar of agony.
Sandi: Those that enjoy battle scenes would have enjoyed this one. A lot of hand to hand. Plenty of arrows. There are men overboard, and no one is a clear victor as the donnybrook—or should we say mêlée—continues.

We see Lagertha battling, using her shield as a shieldmaiden would have, using it as an edged weapon and as a block.

Courtesy of lagerthalothbrok on Tumblr

It was a delightful little historical touch in an episode that - frankly - didn't have many.
Rollo and Ragnar finally meet in battle. Ragnar taunts him, telling Rollo that he looks like a bitch. Considering that many scholars think the English word "bitch" comes from the old Norse bikkjuna, meaning female dog, it might be a period-accurate insult.

Courtesy of vikingssource on Tumblr
Sandi: I think that's a fair assessment. And many kudos to you, ma'am, for going all Norse! 

"One of us will die today," Ragnar promises him.

The two brothers fight, and it's a harsh and brutal struggle that doesn't have a clear winner. Lagertha sees Rollo pin Ragnar against the side of the ship and hammer his face with his bare fists.

Courtesy of sylviebret on Tumblr

(Interesting that neither brother pulled a secondary weapon, isn't it?) She fights her way toward them, but falls when she's stabbed through the shoulder.

Courtesy of xdambe on Tumblr

Sandi: The fight between the brothers really did surprise me. As you said, no secondary weapons were used. But then, this was a personal struggle more than a martial one, in my estimation. Their whole lives, they've struggled with one another. Alongside or in opposition, Ragnar and Rollo have not had an easy time of it. That two mighty warriors,  both of whom are more than proficient with axe and sword, find it needful to slug it out in a brawl involving fists and elbows, is quite eloquent on its own. No flashy statements. It's about proving themselves on a visceral level. 

Lagertha's injury breaks up the fight between Ragnar and Rollo. Ragnar orders his men to get her into the boat and shove off. He tries to charge Rollo again, but his men grab him and throw him into the ship with the wounded. They row away, the battle lost. Both men look horribly depressed in the aftermath.

Sandi: So, no death for Rollo that day. No resolution to a long and troubled relationship. I have to believe, though, that neither of them truly desired death to come to their brother. A beating, yes. Humiliation? Certainly. But death? Not so much, or either of them could have made it happen.

Rollo returns to Paris and he's cheered as soon as he stumbles off of his horse to stagger down the street.

Courtesy of ladyofglencairn on Tumblr

The people clap and scream his name, and some rather insensitive types slap the injured man on the back.
Courtesy of ladyofglencairn on Tumblr
Sandi: Yeah. Not quite a ticker tape parade, is it? But this is a culture of personal contact, whether that be meeting with a king, fighting face to face, or welcoming home a battle-chief. 

Gisla runs down to greet him, kissing his bloodied mouth passionately.

Courtesy of ladyofglencairn on Tumblr

Simple Chuck kisses him too, on both cheeks. Rollo calls out "God bless Paris!" Either his faith really has changed, or he's being very clever in pretending it has to appease his new people.

Sandi: I am thinking that, for the present, Rollo's place in the Frankish pantheon is holding steady. No garroting wire in sight. 

Chuck crowns him with a golden laurel and proclaims him Caesar.
Courtesy of ladyofglencairn on Tumblr

I saw an interesting comment on Tumblr this morning... That it would have been interesting to have Gisla place the golden laurel on Rollo's head, fulfilling the prophecy that a princess will crown the bear. Is the fact Hirst chose not to do it evidence that Rollo isn't the "bear" that was prophesied to receive the crown?

We see one last scene of the battered and depressed Ragnar in the ship. His eyes are swollen shut.

Sandi: It's a sad scene, really. I wonder what's going through ​Ragnar's head, here? He only stopped his fight with Rollo, it seemed, because Lagertha was grievously wounded. "Get her on the ​boat!" he shouted. And then, he directs them to get the boat she's on away. "Get her out of here" before turning—with a weapon—to confront Rollo once again. ​ ​And his men pushed him into one as well, as he needed the respite from his slugfest with Rollo. I do believe this happens against his express wishes.

... And then...

. . . Yeah . . . 

 Björn is standing in the water in Kattegat, fishing.

Everyone immediately started Tweeting, saying, "What? Huh? What did I miss?" It was a moment of collective bewilderment.

Sandi: It was weird. And not in the Norse "wyrd" sense. We were all displaced. Seeing Björn in Kattegat was one thing. I had hoped to get resolution about his daughter (Siglet!) and so on, but times had clearly changed. The village is clearly more populous than it was last time we saw it. Prosperity is sure, based upon the clothing we can see and the barrels on the dock.

 Aslaug comes out of the hall and calls to him to say he needs to see something.

Courtesy of bjorkstark on Tumblr

Sandi:  And this is where this viewer, anyway, was studying her and then studying the environment, to see the changes that would give us clues as to how long a gap we've had since we saw battle-sore Ragnar. And boy, were we surprised! 

 A messenger is standing in the hall. He tells Björn that he's come to see Ragnar. Aslaug says that no one has seen Ragnar for years, not since his defeat in Paris. "How could such a man disappear?" the messenger asks.

The messenger says he has word that Ragnar has a son by Queen Kwenthrith in Wessex, and the boy is about twelve now. (Which means we've skipped ahead in time about five or six years by my reckoning.) Aslaug gulps wine throughout the chat.
Moreover, the messenger has found out that the settlement in Wessex has been destroyed, and that Ragnar knew about it soon after it happened. Aslaug smirks as she tells the messenger she's glad he came.

Courtesy of sikanapanele on Tumblr

Sandi: Story-wise, this gives all of us who are puzzled by the circumstances a solid reason as to why so much seems to be missing from this section of the story. Much of what we expected to see has already (hopefully) happened, years past. Did Hirst do this to get us to the next level in this story or because he felt there were too many threads to tie off to fit into that final twenty minutes (for American audiences)? On the positive side, the way that facial expressions communicated Björn's dominance in the scene between himself and messenger was very well done. The messenger thinks to make a joke about something Björn takes quite seriously, and in next to no time, Björn's demeanor has the messenger nonverbally backing down.

 Björn says he needs to tell his brothers about this. Aslaug tells him they're at a hunting cabin. It's not the "cabin in the Smoky Mountains" that Björn used. This is a more traditional sod-house with a slanted roof. Ragnar's grown sons are lounging around outside. Ivar has some very strange eyes. The whites are blue-toned.

Courtesy of vikingshistory on Tumblr

Sandi: His eyes reminded me a bit of the novel Dune by Frank Herbert. Was Ivar eating some spice? No, I'm fairly certain this is meant to remind us he's been touched by Harbard, whom some might say is an incarnation of Odin himself. That was a bit weird in a scene that was otherwise well structured in terms of historical niceties.  

 The boys are furious when Björn tells them that Ragnar lied to the people of Kattegat. All of the boys feel abandoned by him, except for Ivar. Ivar scoffs and says it would have been a waste of time to tell the people of Kattegat, who would get all fired up and want revenge. That, says Ivar, is why he didn’t tell them. "They were dead. Ragnar wanted to sail to Paris. He wanted to be famous. Isn’t that more important?” Ivar says he feels Ragnar did nothing wrong. He spits out scornfully that Hvitserk, Ubbe and Sigurd sound like a bunch of Christians.

Sandi: Sigurd, sorry, reminded me of Erlandur. Now, I'm prepared to like Sigurd, but the physical resemblance was a bit unnerving. Ivar's position is clear, here. He's very Old School. Having been—one presumes—continually tutored by Floki during his younger years, this is not surprising. 

 Björn says he doesn't think Ragnar is coming back. He thinks the loss in Paris finally broke him. He is just a man, after all, not a god. A deeply flawed man.

Courtesy of johnwgrey on Tumblr

But despite everything, Ragnar is still his father, and he loves him.
But the boys' conversation is enlightening in one respect.
We find that Ubbe is the more thoughtful one among them. He says Ragnar's power isn't what interests him, it's what he does with that power. Ivar has the blunt, pragmatic (and somewhat sociopathic) train of thought that Ragnar acted as a true Viking in what he did. Hvitserk and Sigurd say they'll kill him themselves when they see him. Ubbe speaks of fatherly love.

Courtesy of johnwgrey on Tumblr

Sandi: It's interesting. The younger men haven't had the time with Ragnar that their eldest brother has, so their impressions of Ragnar are largely academic, I think. They discuss Ragnar as if he's more of an idea than a person. A point to be pondered rather than their father. 

Björn goes to talk to Floki. He and Helga are at the water's edge, sailing model ships.

Courtesy of vikingssource on Tumblr

Helga tells Björn that his ships are almost ready and soon he'll be able to sail to the Mediterranean. Floki is still skeptical that it actually exists. He says the map could be fictional, drawn by a child, for all Björn knows.

Björn asks Floki if he'll go, and Floki chuckles. A journey to a mythical land that may not exist? Sure, Floki is down for that.

Courtesy of sikanapanele on Tumblr

Sandi: Björn's actions in this segment strike me as much more regal than otherwise. He's keeping tabs on his fellow "princes"—such as they might be—as well as with Floki, to see how future naval preparations are going. But we don't sense a wartime effort, here. Kattegat is a peaceful and prosperous place, and what Björn wants to do is explore. Björn isn't king, per se, but he is likely considered the highest ranking man in the kingdom. 

Courtesy of sikanapanele on Tumblr

Helga smiles and says that if Floki is made enough to go, she will as well. Their skepticism that the Mediterranean Sea is really there strikes me as odd, especially in light of the next scene which shows people from many far-off lands have joined Kattegat, including what appear to be Arab traders that presumably sailed it personally in their voyage to the land of the Norse.

Sandi: Maybe the term "Mediterranean Sea" is a nebulous term, here. A far off place that holds dreams and ideals, but without any real idea as to what it is. I enjoyed the body language between Floki and Björn. An initial hesitation, as if they are deciding how to approach a topic one knows, one suspects, might be hard. But then, they are in accord and it's arms about shoulders and we've-been-friends-forever. With Floki as the older man, now, rather than the young genius.

We next see Ragnar sitting at the edge of a large and prosperous village.
He rises and walks down the street, people stop to turn and stare at him. Some follow him as he walks. We also see people from many different nationalities trading in the market. When he reaches the center of town, we see that it's Kattegat.

Ragnar's sons come out to the edge of the group surrounding him. Oddly, Ivar crawls on the ground on his stomach, pulling himself by his elbows.

Courtesy of jorindelle on Tumblr

 Did he outgrow the cart and they simply never made him another?
Sandi: The size of the place shocked me, once I understood where we were. Gone is the simple fishing and farming village from Season One. This is a major trading center, as much of a city as one might expect to find in this time and place. Not everyone who followed Ragnar to the center of town would have known him by sight; so many would be following only due to the whispers that were passed along as he made his way to his sons. 

They're glaring at Ragnar. Ragnar says he understands their anger. What kind of a king abandons his people? What kind of father abandons his sons? He shouts at the boys to kill him.
The only way for someone else to become king is to kill him. He offers his sword to all of the people standing around the edge of the circle. No one will take it. Ragnar drives his sword into the earth and shouts at them all, demanding to know who would be king.

Courtesy of yeahthatotheronewhatshername on Tumblr
Sandi: Ivar, from his position low to the ground, lifts his chin as if in answer, but then he has to duck his head a bit; he knows he couldn't challenge Ragnar on his own. And really, would he want to?  Hvitserk, when confronted face to face, refuses to kill Ragnar, though he had said he would, were his father to return. Ubbe is watching, studying, but not preparing a response. I think that Sigurd looks most betrayed. Like, "I waited for you. I watched for you. And you never came to hear what I had to tell you." But no matter what their facial expressions communicate, their lack of acceptance of Ragnar's challenge appears unified. No one. No one wants to try to claim the kingship. Not one of them. 

 And that's where it ends.

Sandi: It was something I would expect to see in a young adult trilogy, perhaps. The end of book two before book three. Unsatisfying. Unresolved.  

 I was flummoxed. I was irritated. I was disappointed. I felt like I was expecting to see the Battle of Waterloo, and instead ended up watching a short man beat a mall security guard with a Nerf bat.

Courtesy of wightcoyote on Tumblr
Sandi: The transition was, in my view, too abrupt. I felt that the ending was supposed to provide suspense and excitement, but instead, it left so many unanswered issues as to be disappointing.  

There were some glaring questions left unanswered. Who, in Ragnar's absence, ruled Kattegat? It seems to be Aslaug, because she takes a seat on the chair in the king's hall. Presumably, she's been kept as regent by the claim of Björn or that of her own sons. But that makes little sense, given how Harald Finehair was angling for the throne - it was the only reason he went on the Paris raid, after all. Did he just say, "My brother has been killed. I think I'll give up on this monarchy bid." 

They're really going to leave it like that?
Courtesy of rebloggy

Sandi: On twitter, @US_TV_Addict suggested that perhaps flashbacks might be utilized when the season recommences. This would be undeniably helpful in determining how things got to where they are, but will they resolve our abandonment issues? Maybe? Aslaug was ruling in Kattegat, as perhaps per the Seer's words some time before. I sense that Björn hasn't supplanted her because he wants to keep an eye on her. He is the one whom many likely look to. Notice that he was not grouped with the other sons to meet Ragnar. Björn has his own place and no one challenges it. Not even Aslaug. 

But the reason for abandoning Paris escapes me. Historically, Björn is made famous for his trip to the Mediterranean, so it is possible that Paris will be sidelined in the future. But what of Rollo and his transition to being the Duke of Normandy (Northman's Land)? Will we see this?  

Why didn't Ragnar regroup for another attack? It seemed, from what I saw, that while the initial losses were heavy, there were still some ships that hadn't even engaged yet when Ragnar rowed away.  He said his whole purpose in going back to Paris was to kill Rollo. Mission most assuredly not accomplished.

 Sandi: Most assuredly. I maintain that the reason for Ragnar's abandonment of the Paris operation is due to his relationship with Rollo. Yes, he came to kill him, but he couldn't do it. This had to strike at his heart, there at the end. Also, he changed his course of action when Lagertha was wounded. This was significant for him as well, even if we don't see her there at the end with the boys. 

Lagertha's fate isn't addressed, though she was shown for a moment in the teaser for the "sneak peek" of next season. I think it's safe to assume she's still with us, and that she's gone home to rule Hedeby.

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Sandi: But without that peek, her fate would be unknown. Another major character left in limbo. Most disquieting. 

 I feel like this episode suffered badly in the editing room. Moreover, it probably would have been better if they'd just ended the season with the last one, which would have provided a better "cliffhanger" than this confusing jumble. Perhaps, if it hadn't been crammed into a season ending, the time jump could have been handled better.

Courtesy of The Mary Sue
Sandi: I'm just not sure if they understood the big, gaping confusion we would feel, being transported from post-boxing-scene, battle-weary Ragnar to peacefully fishing Björn. If the episode had ended with the weary Ragnar, we would have felt irked, perhaps, because no one's "fate was sealed" as was mentioned in the blurb under the episode on the show's website. But it would have settled in more easily than the abrupt time jump. Perhaps, as I let this sink in, I'll feel more comfortable with the uncertainty, and less irked at the questions I felt should have been answered.

Whether I do or not, though, I will certainly be waiting for the second part of this season, later this year. I might even have my next Viking book ready by then. ;-) 

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Thanks for joining us! Join us again when Vikings returns this fall!

If you’re looking for incisive comments, please check out ProjectFandom. @DeeDonuts on twitter is the chick in charge, there, and she always has sharp things to say!

Heill þú farir, heill þú aftr komir, heill þú á sinnum sér!

Hale go forth, hale return, hale on your ways! – Vafþrúðnismál 4

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