Two Historical Fiction Authors View VIKINGS, Episode VII

Welcome back to our series on The History Channel's VIKINGS. Sandi Layne, author of Éire's Captive Moon, is with me again to chat about last night's episode. Both of us are still thrilled with the show, so it still has the History Geek stamp of approval.

Lissa: Before we begin, I think we have to agree the previews of next week's episode DID NOT HAPPEN. It was a dream sequence ... or something ... and that's what I'm firmly sticking to.

Sandi: Yes. I will stand with you in this matter. I was quite upset by the possibility that Athelstan would turn his back on his faith AND that he might be sacrificed. (Though! His appearance was not a problem...)

Lissa: Twitter lit up with admiration for Ragnar's new head tattoos last night.

Sandi: They were there the week before, too, but no one said anything. lol

Lissa: Ragnar is having way too much fun with this leader thing, but he seems to be doing rather well with it. He's proceeding with caution, even when his men are urging him to charge in with both axes swinging.

Sandi: I see sometimes a strange light in his eyes that is troubling. I can't trust that face always...but, I believe he is acting for the best interest of his people, overall.

Lissa: I think Ragnar is taking many things as a leap of faith. He, too, has a belief in destiny, and perhaps he thinks the gods won't let any harm come to him until he fulfills it.

The dinner scene was fun. It seems the Vikings decided to ham it up a little and play "barbarians" to shock the English.

Sandi: They really did seem to have fun with the English. 

Lissa: I also liked the scene in the midst of it when Ragnar smiled gently and said hello to Ælle's son. He really is a good guy.

Sandi: I was unsurprised at the ransom demand but quite surprised that Ælle went with it. The conversion stipulation puzzled me, however. One would think that the clergy and king would know that a conversion under those circumstances would not hold.

Lissa: I've read of some other "forced conversions" along these lines, in the chronicles of the Spanish conquistadors, the persecution of the Jewish people in Spain, and in the accounts of the Crusades. In the case of the Jewish converts, the Morranos, it gave the rulers more power over them because they could now be tried for heresy, even if they hadn't broken any civil law. They believed the baptism held mystical power that made the convert a Christian even if they didn't behave or worship as one, and God would judge them even more harshly than a heathen for turning his back on the faith.

Lagertha is a wonderful leader. She seems to have fallen perfectly into her role as countess. I loved the scene with the accused adulteress. She got the community to not only accept the child, but to embrace it as a gift from the gods. Very smart, Lagertha. If the husband (who appears to have participated in her enjoyment of the stranger's charms, judging by that comment about them all being in the same bed) had cast her out, she and her child would have become a burden on the community, instead of contributors. Lagertha's no fool, inserting that comment at the end that if the husband mistreated his
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wife, he'd answer to Lagertha. 

Sandi: I liked that she saw to the proper care of the baby and that the woman wouldn't be condemned in that circumstance. In my readings, normally if a man slept with a married woman without the consent of her husband, he would pay the husband off. It was not a huge deal, apparently. That this didn't apparently happen would - as the husband indicated - be evidence that the husband did give his consent. So it was right that the baby be kept as the wife's child.

Lissa: A badass warrior she may be, but Lagertha has a deep well of compassion. I loved how she taght her son compassion when Siggy came as a supplicant. "And if your father had died, I woud be standing where she is now. What do you want me to say to her?" Unfortunately, I suspect you're right that Siggy is up to no good, despite her apparent gratitude and her comforting of Lagertha.

Sandi: I am thinking indeed that Siggy is "keeping her enemies closer" as the saying goes. She is keeping a close eye on the new earl's wife - and her children. She will have her sharp eyes everywhere. Indeed, I wonder even if she had something to do with the loss of Lagertha's child. I was suspicious immediately. But then....I have that tendency, don't I?

Lissa: Oh, lord, I didn't even think of that... Could Siggy really be that evil? I grieved for Lagertha when she lost the child.

Sandi: Me, too. And it was...such a gruesome view on the show, too.

Lissa: I didn't expect that. I thought the child would turn out to be Fridleif, the son he and Lagertha are recorded to have had in the legends. (Bjorn Ironside was supposedly the son of another of Ragnar's wives.) I fear Ragnar will take this loss hard. Both will likely be bewildered by it because of the Seer's prophecy Ragnar would have many sons. (But, oh, Lagertha, the Seer did not say with whom!)

Sandi: Indeed! Which makes me wonder what the writers might have in store!

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Lissa: Floki's character continues to evolve. I'm starting to wonder if the mandness might just be an act on his part, something he does for fun to watch how people will react. He's just too darn canny. If Rollo does decide to do something to Ragnar, he'd better take out Floki, too, or his reign would be short, indeed.

Sandi: Floki is crazy-brilliant. I do think he's probably unbalanced, but that doesn't diminish his devotion to Ragnar or to his people. Or his gods.

Lissa: Judging from the number of #FLOKI Tweets, he's one of the most popular characters on the show.

Rollo's conversion-- or at least, the appearance thereof-- was a surprise. I fear it may be part of the plot brewing in his mind, hoping that king Ælla will support a fellow Christian if Rollo decides to rebel against his brother. Floki appears to smell a rat, proving how sharp his mind truly is.

Sandi: Rollo's determination to "kill Christians" was emotional. That struck me. Was he afraid of the anger of his gods or of Floki? How is that going to shape the future of the story?

Lissa: Deep down, it has to torment Rollo that he's at least considering rebelling against his brother, especially when Ragnar is openly loyal and devoted to him.

Selected Tweets from last night's live Tweet-along of the show:
Sandi Layne

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