Excerpt from The Queen of Iceland

While doing research for a new book called “The Queen of Iceland,” I was reading the Laxdaela Saga and learning more about the main character, Gudrun. I decided I wanted to give her some sort of animal to be her protector. That idea is not mentioned in the saga, but it made for a more interesting story.

One idea came to mind, a gyrfalcon. I remember reading about these amazing birds years ago. Would this work? After more research, I was satisfied. Yes. The concept fit within Norse mythology, and the gyrfalcon was the national bird of Iceland. It’s the largest falcon, and one of the fastest.

Early in the story, Gudrun is shown her destiny. The coming years will be difficult and challenging. She sits on a large rock on the beach, contemplating all of this, and her great aunt, Unn the deep minded, appears.

Unn tells Gudrun she has many gifts that will serve her well, enabling her to excel in spite of her trials. This comforts the young woman, but then Unn warns her that cunning men will try to exploit her abilities for their own means. Gudrun is troubled anew, but then Unn promises another gift. A white gyrfalcon.

“I give you now a lifelong companion. Hold out your arm.”

Up in the sky, there was a screech and a white blur as the gyrfalcon pulled its wings close and dove, at the last moment seeming to pause in mid-air as it fluttered and gently settled on Gudrun’s arm, just above her elbow. The bird’s stare was intense and it did not look away.

The girl grinned. “She’s beautiful. Thank you, aunt Unn.”

Unn nodded. “What will you call her?”

Gudrun studied the falcon. “Vor.”

“Named for a goddess: The aware and careful one. Well chosen, child. And now, know this. She will stay with you throughout an entire day if you wish, but when the evening comes, release her to the sky. If you need her again that day, she will return. To summon her, simply say her name. Even if you whisper it, she will come.

“She will surely be your protector, from today, until the very last day of your life. Her mortality is limited only by your own. She is impervious to harm, whether by man or beast.”

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