BY LARS WALKER
I was learning a lot about life in those days. I was learning that in the world at large I was a pretty small animal, whose survival meant avoiding predators.
But that particular day was different. Looking up I saw another boy step up to confront my tormenter. He seemed extremely tall to me, and impressively mature—probably seven or eight. He had several friends to back him up.
He looked the bully in the face and said, “Leave him alone. He’s our friend.”
The bully scowled and ran away.
I didn’t know my rescuer from Adam. I never knew why he protected me. I never even found out who he was, although we probably went through ten or eleven years of school together, in a pretty small school. I was too much in awe of him to say anything. He didn’t say anything to me either. He just marched off with his friends.
I looked over to the school entrance and saw a girl watching the drama. Her cotton dress billowed about her in the wind. I didn’t think she was pretty, but her long, straight-nosed face reminded me of pictures I’d seen in books of my grandmother’s, pictures of angels in what (I would eventually learn) was called the Pre-Raphaelite style.
Ever since that day, I’ve had an image of a Hero in my mind—a tall young man marching at the head of a group of friends, protecting the weak, while an angel looks on.
When I wrote my first published novel, Erling’s Word (later incorporated into a double volume called The Year of the Warrior), I put that memory into the story. I wrote a scene near the beginning in which the narrator, Father Aillil, who has been taken as a slave, is rescued from a beating by the Norwegian chieftain Erling Skjalgsson, who then buys him and gives him his freedom.
Erling, by the way, is an actual historical figure. He features prominently in the sagas of the Norwegian kings. One thing that makes him appealing to the modern reader is that we’re told he ran a self-help program for his slaves. He gave them free time to earn the price of their freedom, and then helped set them up on farms or in trades. When I discovered him (and, as a bonus, realized that he lived in a part of Norway from which many of my ancestors came) I felt I’d found a hero worth immortalizing.
My new novel, West Ovesea, continues Erling’s saga. I have him give up all his power and wealth for a time, because of a point of honor (it’s the sort of thing he’d do). He sails west with his family and supporters, on a voyage to trade with Leif Eriksson (a man he probably actually knew) in Greenland. Due to storms, human enemies, and wizardry, the voyage works out to be a lot longer and more dangerous than planned. They even visit a strange new country recently discovered by Leif.
But I have believed, ever since that day in the school yard long ago, that heroes are a precious resource, one that needs to be cultivated. We have need of our heroes. We saw that truth in a cruel, vivid light one day in September in 2001.
I may never be a hero myself, but I want to tell heroes’ stories. The Vikings had men called skalds, poets who locked heroes’ deeds into poetic form, so they’d be preserved unaltered through the generations.
I like to think I’m a skald of a sort, with a harp made of paper.
About the author ~
Lars (pronounced Larce) Walker is a native of Kenyon, Minnesota, and lives in Minneapolis. He has worked as a crabmeat packer in Alaska, a radio announcer, a church secretary and an administrative assistant, and is presently librarian and bookstore manager for the schools of the Association of Free Lutheran Congregations in Plymouth, Minnesota.
He is the author of four previously published novels, and is the editor of the journal of the Georg Sverdrup Society. Walker says, “I never believed that God gave me whatever gifts I have in order to entertain fellow Christians. I want to confront the world with the claims of Jesus Christ.” His latest release is West Oversea: A Norse Saga of Mystery, Adventure and Faith.
Find Lars here ~
His latest book ~
Lars Walkers third novel about the Vikings begins in the year 1001. King Olaf Trygvesson is dead, but his sisters husband, Erling Skjalgsson, carries on his dream of a Christian Norway that preserves its traditional freedoms. Rather than do a dishonorable deed, Erling relinquishes his power and lands. He and his household board ships and sail west to find a new life with Leif Eriksson in Greenland. This voyage, though, will be longer and more dangerous than they ever imagined. It will take them to an unexplored country few Europeans had seen. Demonic forces will pursue them, but the greatest danger of all may be in a dark secret carried by Father Aillil, Erlings Irish priest.
Other books by Lars ~
Read the Excerpt!Chapter 14 ~ The next morning Astrid and the child were gone. It was as always when someone goes missing. You reckon they’re using the privy or in one of the other houses, and after a while someone asks where they’ve gotten to, and someone else says. “I thought they were with you,” and that person says, “Well, I thought they were with you and then there’s a deal of asking about; and the upshot is that no one has seen them since the night before.
Visit Lars on the rest of his tour ~
Friday, October 8
Book spotlight at Eccentric Eclectic Woman
Tuesday, October 12
Interviewed at Paperback Writer
Wednesday, October 13
Interviewed at American Chronicle
Thursday, October 14
Book spotlighted at Book Tours and More
Friday, October 15
Interviewed at The Hot Author Report
Monday, October 18
Interviewed at Examiner
Tuesday, October 19
Guest blogging at Authors & Appetizers
Wednesday, October 20
Interviewed at The Writer’s Life
Thursday, October 21
Guest blogging at Fodder for Fiction
Friday, October 22
Book reviewed at RBC Library
Monday, October 25
Guest blogging at Review from Here
Tuesday, October 26
Guest blogging at The Story Behind the Book
Thursday, October 28
Interviewed at Broowaha
Interviewed at As the Pages Turn
Book spotlighted at The Plot
Friday, October 29
Book reviewed at Ellis
Guest blogging at The Plot