Høst & Søn, 2001/2002/2003
This trilogy is inspired by the Icelandic Sagas and draws both linguistically and thematically on the Norse literary tradition.
Link to The
Warrior (Krigeren) website (Danish)
from On the Furthest Island
from Behind the Castle Walls
Across Open Water
As a small child, Odd was found washed up on the shore of the island
of Berkanas. He has since been held as a slave by the sorceress who
wants to give the young man back to the sea as a sacrifice.
himself secretly dreams of becoming a warrior in the King's Guard, but
the path to his goal is not only interminable; it also turns out to be
bloody and full of deceit.
”One can feel it like life blood. It is world class.” Steffen
”The Warrior is totally on the same level as Harry Potter,
the Lyra trilogy (Philip Pullman) and many other big series I have
read.” Morten 16 år.
fury are part and parcel of warrior life and Odd is second to none in
battle. All the same, life in the king's guard brings him closer to the
king's unpredictable son, Ansur, than he would like.
the Castle Walls is as exciting as Prince Valiant and as deep as a
lucid dream. It cannot be bettered.” Steffen Larsen, review in
”I think these
books are just totally cool. They're some of the best books I've ever
read!” Sabrina, 13 years old.
commander and warrior, Odd has achieved everything he dreamed about,
but life at King Ansur's court is dominated by intrigue and power games.
For Odd, support of his king is paramount, but which path is the right
Across Open Water Josefine Ottesen has completed her trilogy about
The Warrior and fearlessly written herself into the international
authors' league.” Benni Bødker, Børn og Bøger (Children and Books).
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Extract from On the Furthest Island :
Ragni stepped outside and took a deep breath. He preferred standing
out here in the pouring rain to being inside the filthy hut.
after, the old man returned with a young lad. He was tall and well-built
with flame-red hair. Ragni reckoned he was about fourteen to fifteen
summers. Even if he was so big that he could easily be taken for
somewhat older, he was still totally smooth around his chin. The young
man avoided eye-contact with Ragni but the bard got a glimpse of a pair
of hard, grey-green eyes.
"I'm not going in there. I hate that
stink." The boy's voice was low and tense.
"That's not your decision,
Odd! You belong to the gydje1 and she gets what she wants." The older man shoved
the young one through the doorway and Ragni watched them disappear into
the darkness beyond.
As soon as Odd came in the door, it was
closed behind him. The stench of the many herbs that were stewing on the
fireplace, mixed with the reek of filth, made him feel faint.
your clothes off, Odd!" commanded the gydje. She had now bound
all the thongs and held the magic bone-rattle in her hand. She was naked
except for a large feather adornment on her head. The head-dress was
made from the feathers of all the seabirds that lived around the coast
and she looked, if possible, even more disconcerting than normal. If
he'd had the courage, he would have refused, but like almost everyone
else, he was afraid of the power of her sorcery.
pulled off his hide tunic and trousers. He forced himself to look down
at the ground, because, despite his fear of what was going to happen, it
was hard for him to keep his eyes off the naked young women. They swept
past close to him in the small, stuffy room, taken up with carrying out
the gydje's orders.
"Moa, give him this," she croaked, and the
smallest of the girls passed him a cup containing an indefinable,
foul-smelling liquid. He turned his face away, but Moa whispered
anxiously, "Drink it, Odd - if you don't she'll turn you into a pig."
stood quite close to him and for a moment her fresh smell overcame the
nauseous stench in the hut.
As she raised the mug, the sensation of warmth from her
arm confused him so much that he drank the contents in one mouthful.
tasted bitter and rotten and he almost threw up, but straight away, the
whole room began to spin and he fell heavily to the floor.
though he wanted to move his limbs, he couldn't. It was like he was
paralysed. His heart beat furiously in panic, while the girls dragged
him over to a bed of straw. His thoughts went around his brain like
sticky porridge. Would he now be sacrificed to Berkana? But sacrifices
usually took place on the Isle of Birds, which lay off the coast, not
here in the hut!
The three young women began to drum monotonously on
large, flat hand drums. The gydje sang with a hoarse, scratchy voice.
Odd felt like he was being lifted and hurled downwards through a long,
dark passage. Fear tore at him, as he realised that the gydje had forced
him to join her on her journey into the underworld.
1. A gydje is an ancient Nordic word for a woman who is a cross
between a priestess and a sorceress - she gets her powers from the
goddess she serves. The male equivalent is a gode.
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Extract from Behind the Castle Walls :
"Is everyone here?"
Ragni Bard looked at the bunch of expectant young
men. They were waiting to go away to North Island to prove that they
had the strength and stamina to serve in the King's hyrde2.
The bard looked around for the stocky, bow-legged warrior,
who was responsible for training the young.
"He'll be here shortly,"
growled the King, "He's helping Ansur get ready."
"For what?" asked
Ragni in amazement.
The King gathered his cloak with its ferret-skin
lining tightly around him. Even though the sun was about to rise in a
cloud-free sky, there was an autumn sharpness in the air.
taking part in the warrior training this year. It's time he found out
what it's like to be in battle."
Grathe agitatedly stroked
"Perhaps you don't think my son is ready to fight on an
equal footing with the other young men taking their hyrde test?"
the King's sharp tone, the bard held his tongue, but he had his own
ideas on the subject. The young heir had never shown either interest in
or a special aptitude for the craft of the warrior, but Ragni knew as
well as the King that, if Ansur was to follow his father as ruler of
Flatsea, he would need to earn the respect of the men.
at last. He stamped furiously over to the men with Ansur right behind
He began the roll-call.
replied the young thane's son.
"What've you got in the trunk?"
weapons and a change of clothes."
Steinar bent over
the carved chest's shiny bronze clasp and opened the lid. Trond rummaged
around in the contents, took out a battleaxe and a knife and slammed
the trunk shut.
"You're already carrying a bow, arrows and shield.
That's good. Take the axe and the knife." He handed him the small hand
weapons. "The trunk can stay here. You have all you need."
know your father well, Steinar. He's a great man and a skilful warrior.
I hope you take after him."
Steinar said nothing more. Several of
the other young men began to sort between what they needed and what
could be left behind.
Trond continued with the roll-call.
Ash answered and Trond nodded contentedly. Ash was big and well-built
and he had a friendly smile. He was one of those who had done best in
the initial tests, because he was not only strong and skilful with his
weapons but also good at thinking carefully about situations. Trond had
great expectations of him.
"Keel of Long Island?"
"Here," replied a
slight young man and Trond wrinkled his forehead slightly. The bard had
insisted that Keel should be included, even if he had not been among
the best in the tests. Ragni pointed out that King Grathe didn't have
much use of good warriors if he had no-one to steer the ships, and Keel
came from a long line of seamen and boat builders.
looked around after the big redhead, who had surprised everyone by
completing all the tests convincingly.
The young man nodded. "Do you
have a family name?" Trond wanted to know, but before Odd could reply,
Steinar said, "He has no family, just call him Bumpkin. That's what we
Odd clenched his fists. Steinar would not leave him alone,
that much he knew. Ragni had previously warned him against challenging
men who stood before him in the King's favour, but he had a burning
desire to challenge the thane's son to a duel.
- Old English word for guard.
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Extract from Across Open Water :
"Autumn will soon be upon us. It won't be long before it's time to
collect the taxes."
For a brief moment, Toke's words hung in the air,
before the King replied, "Odd has taken over Eik's duties. He'll have
to collect the tax the thanes owe me."
Toke leaned back, allowing
Isar to take over. "Is that a good idea, my lord? Odd is young and
"It will be as I say. Odd has assisted Eik several
times. I have no reason to believe that he's not capable of performing
the task to my complete satisfaction."
Ansur glanced at Hagal, the
who was also present at the King's council. She nodded imperceptibly
and he continued, "I want Odd to take over Eik's position in every way,
also as commander-in-chief for my personal hyrde2."
other chieftains looked at the young red-haired warrior who a short time
ago had taken charge of one of the four fylking3 in the
hyrde. Vegge nodded slowly. He knew Odd of old and had only good words
for the new chieftain. Toke, who was the oldest, leaned forward towards
his new companion and said, "What do you think, Odd?"
"I do as my
King requests. I've taken an oath on that."
"There is no shame in
asking for help and advice when one is inexperienced."
Isar, who was
not only a chieftain, but also served as gode1 to the powerful
war-god Kauna, spoke calmly. He was quite clearly unhappy with Ansur's
choice of Odd. He himself would have put Steinar Jankelsson in Eik's
place when the old chieftain fell in battle in the summer campaign, but
he was still fully prepared to help the young man. If it had been up to
him, Odd would have served in his fylking, Kauna's Warriors, along
with the berserkers and shapechangers instead of under the rule-bound
Eik. Isar was in no doubt that the new chieftain had the power of
sorcery, but Eik and the old king, Grathe, had not allowed Kauna's gode
to instruct him.
"What about Wendel's tax?" Vegge's voice was sharp.
"He still hasn't paid what he owes from spring."
again around the table. The Earl of Northland had been vanquished in
battle by King Grathe and his daughter married off to Ansur, but Wendel
didn't consider that he owed tax to Ansur, since it was Ansur's father
he had given his oath to.
"Let it rest." Hagal's response was muted
but all could hear what she said.
"I have consulted with the goddess
- she says we should leave Wendel alone for the time being."
let him off the hook now, it won't be long before he turns up in Flatsea
with a battle-ready force." Vegge got to his feet in a hot temper. Toke
grunted in agreement.
"What do you think, Isar?" In measured tones, Ansur
addressed the man his father had used for advice and to speak with the
"I can't answer you until I've had time to listen to the great
Kauna's wisdom," replied Isar bitterly, angry that Hagal had once again
been given the opportunity to advise the King before he himself got to
know what was going on. When Ansur earlier in the year brought Hagal to
the castle from Berkana's island, Isar had thought she would just
satisfy the young king's lusts in bed. It was most inconvenient to him
that the beautiful young woman now had greater influence on the King's
decisions than he himself.
"And what about you, Odd?" The King met
the young man's look with a smile. Ansur was just as gentle and friendly
with his blood brother as he had been cold with Isar.
that question to the more experienced among us to express themselves,"
said Odd. "I know about the tax collection here along Flatsea's coasts
and I take that on without hesitation. Earl Wendel and Northland I know
little about, but will happily take part in a campaign up there if you
find it necessary."
1. Gyde/Gode: see
note under Extract from On The Furthest Island.
2. Hyrde: see note
under Extract from Behind The Castle Walls.
3. Fylking: old
Nordic word for a group of free men who have sworn allegiance to a king
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I regard the three volumes of the story about The Warrior as a kind of
completion of my apprenticeship as an author. Altogether, I have worked
on the novel for five years and it has been an unbelievably exciting and
rewarding process. It has been a huge joy to be allowed to follow Odd
from when he is a withdrawn and hostile boy and to experience how he, in
the course of the novel's three volumes, develops his own life and
becomes capable of using his strength and power in his own way.
As with The Rainbow
Stone, I spent a lot of time researching this novel, a process through
which I have become very much more knowledgeable. Now for example, I
know how to fight with sword and staff and how to dock a Viking ship!
Foto: Naja Schønemann