Title – Viking Quest
Author’s name – Edale Lane
Genre: Historical fantasy adventure/lesbian romance
Publisher: Past and Prologue Press
Cover Artist: Enggar Adirasa
Release Date June 28, 2021
page count 229
When secrets and lies threaten the throne, can a fierce champion tame her passion in time to stop a cruel enemy’s ruthless march?
Jutland, Early 11th Century. Viking Warrior Princess Lena craves revenge. Hunting a killer after her husband is brutally slain, she discovers a shadowy traitor is at play behind the scenes, working to disrupt the balance of power. But she places her need for vengeance on hold when the king falls gravely ill, and sails out along with the pretty slave she rescued to locate a fabled healer.
Gunnar is loyal to the core. But when his lord orders him to sabotage the princess’s royal mission, he’s plagued by an unfamiliar sense of doubt. And after he witnesses the courageous woman and her crew save his life in a vicious storm, he’s no longer certain he’s fighting for the right side.
Beset by foul weather and an uncharted island of trolls, Lena fears she’ll never avenge her husband’s death… even as her heart softens towards the lovely Celt girl she longs to embrace. And now Gunnar must decide where his fealty rests as the tides turn to war.
Can Lena and Gunnar survive a bloody grab for power and find a true home for their hearts?
Viking Quest is a breathtaking historical fantasy novel. If you like principled characters, battles of conscience, and tender F/F romance, then you’ll love Edale Lane’s action-packed epic.
Content Warnings: Battle violence, mention of off-scene rape, ff kissing with assumption of off-scene sex
Buy Viking Quest to destroy a fearsome foe today!
Wide eyed, Caitlin shuddered at the thought of his intention. It was always worse when he was drunk, when he would hit her and degrade her as he forced himself upon her. After being whisked away from her homeland across the waters, bought and sold by others, she had been only a few weeks in this man’s possession and her will to resist and escape had not yet been broken. But now, as he presented her with his sharpened knife, she was more frightened than before of being cut or killed. If he did pass out, she could use the blade to sever her bindings and run; if not, her prospects just became bleaker.
Suddenly, the door flew open before an avenging angel. Caitlin was struck with a thrill of exhilaration as the Viking warrior woman stormed through, exuding power from every inch of her strikingly beautiful body. She was tall, with chestnut hair and fiery brown eyes that matched the stance of her toned figure. “You,” she commanded with a stony stare at Caitlin’s captor. “Take your sword and face me like a man instead of the snake you are, for I am not accustomed to murder, as are you.”
Startled by this interruption, the man spun his head and torso toward the door. He seemed to recognize the shield maiden for his face paled, his eyes widened, and his mouth fell agape. He scrambled off the bed, almost falling flat on his face. “Wo, woman, what do you want?” he stuttered as he tried to gain his bearings.
“Justice; that is all,” seethed her icy reply.
The man glanced about the room, spotting his sword several feet away. The Viking advanced and drew her weapon without ever taking her eyes off him. “You must have made a mistake,” he said, trying to stall as he reached for his sword. Caitlin scooted back in the bed against the wall behind her, pulling the covers up, mesmerized by the liberator who was certainly the answer to her prayers come to save her. She is everything I wish I could be! If I had her confidence and skill, I need ne’er be afraid. No one would ever own me again!
“No, you are the one who made the mistake,” the enigmatic woman stated.
The dirty little man grabbed his sword, held it in front of him, and shuffled along the wall until he had passed the bed. “I am not who you seek,” he said.
The Viking answered with her blade, the hard steel drawing sparks as it struck his. “Oh, yes, you are,” she spat with venom. “I want to see the look on your face when I run you through the way you did to Gilivar.” She lunged at him with her sword and he could barely deflect the strike. He held up his weapon, waving it about in a feeble attempt to save his life. Backing away from her stronger blows, the man overturned a chair in her path and then the table.
“You pathetic worm!” she derided, kicking the furniture aside. “Why would a swine such as you dare to kill a prince? Who paid you?”
“You wanna know?” He grinned, trying to mask his fear, no doubt, for his hands still shook. “Perhaps you should know, but I cannot tell you if I’m dead.”
“Speak while you still have breath then,” she retorted as she delivered a powerful blow which knocked the weasel’s sword across the room.
“You must promise to let me live,” he insisted.
“I only promise to kill you if you do not.”
“It was,” he stammered in a shaky voice. His glazed eyes darted about and Caitlin supposed he was trying to fabricate some excuse to offer. Her heart raced at the thought of the fate that awaited her tormentor. She didn’t wish him dead, but neither would she mourn him.
“Uh, what I’m tryin’ to tell you… the German baron, Rhinestein. He wants Pomerania for his own holdings and, and an alliance with king Svein would mean his defeat. So you see, he wanted to start a war between your countries. Then when the fighting was done, he’d move in and take over.” He waited breathless, glossy eyes still wide, as the Viking woman pondered his story. Then a stony expression came over her.
“You lie.” She jabbed her sword deep into his abdomen and pulled it out with a jerk. In a cry of pain, he crumpled to the floor, grabbing his wound and staring up at her in horror. “Baron Rhinestein died last week; he was an old man of seventy-five and hadn’t walked for years. You should have told the truth.”
The little man squirmed with a twisted mouth as he tried to hold back the river of blood that flowed from his belly. “You can’t win,” he gasped. Then he motioned for her to come closer. She knelt near him, but was clearly still alert, sword in hand. “The enemy within,” he began, then stopped to swallow and breathe, his eyes closing for a moment. “Is greater,” he continued, forcing his heavy eyelids open. “Than the enemy without.” With that, he exhaled, convulsed, and eked a shallow last breath.
The Viking rose, wiped the blood from her sword on the hem of his robe, and replaced it in its sheath. Taking a deep breath, she stepped over the corpse, heading for the door. “Wait!” Caitlin cried out. She was free, but that was only the beginning. Surely her avenging angel had seen her and would not leave her alone in her predicament.
Lena stopped and turned in the direction of the plea, noticing the girl with sun-kissed hair. Although her senses had taken in her presence, the singleness of her purpose had blocked the girl out; her mission now accomplished, she came back to herself. The woman was young, frightened, and alone. “What? He killed my husband; I’m sorry, but he deserved no less.”
“Sorry? I thank ye—ye’ve saved me!” she gushed with emotion overwhelming the foreign lilt in her voice.
Lena noticed that the girl’s hands were tied, so she took a moment to draw the small dagger from her gauntlet and cut her bonds. “There you go. All free now.”
“Please take me with you,” she implored with hopeful verdant eyes.
“Listen.” She vacated the bed and stood before Lena. “My name is Caitlin and I am Gaelic. Raiders took me from me home in Eire and sold me as a slave. This man,” she said pointing, “treated me cruelly. I don’t know anyone in this town; I have no one and nowhere ta go. I ask only you let me serve ye ‘til I can get back to me home.” Lena studied the young woman, her bruises, her youthful innocence. She could be a beautiful girl, and obviously needed help, but Lena had things to do and could not waste precious time. “Please,” Caitlin repeated, touching her hand to Lena’s arm, her eyes lipid pools of green. “Don’t leave me.”
Lena stopped everything at Caitlin’s touch. She stopped calculating, stopped hating, and even stopped grieving. A peculiar sensation enveloped her, one she could not interpret. Mayhap it was the desperation in the girl’s lilting voice, or the hope that shone on her face. Lena did not know where the surge of compassion came from that flooded her soul, but she could not turn young Caitlin away. It was inconvenient and had all the potential for disaster, distracting her from her mission. Nevertheless, she could not bring herself to refuse her request. Lena’s features softened as she let out a sigh. “Very well, but I must make haste and cannot have you slowing me down.”
“I won’t, and that’s a promise!” Caitlin beamed excitedly.
“Dress with haste; we will be riding,” Lena instructed. At once, Caitlin gathered a peasant blouse, full skirt, shoes, and a wrap and went about frantically changing into them.
“Ye’re a Dane warrior, aren’t ye?” she inquired admiringly. “A real shield maiden?” Lena nodded in response. “How excitin’! The good Lord sent ye ta rescue me, I know He did.”
Lena let out a little chuckle at the youth’s hero worship. “I’m Lena, and I came here to kill the man who murdered my husband, not to rescue anyone. But, here we are. Are you ready?”
Caitlin’s bright eyes shined at Lena, and her head bobbed in an exuberant nod. “Aye; let’s be off,” she proclaimed as she stepped around the dead man’s body. Then she added in quiet sorrow, “I’m sorry for yer loss, truly.” She spared one glance down at the blood-soaked corpse. “He was a horrid wee man.”
1. Tell us a little about how this story first came to be.
I wrote this story twenty-four years ago but never published it. I wanted to cast a powerful woman in the lead role of a Viking adventure because who doesn’t love a sword wielding woman warrior? It was the only book I ever wrote that my mother had the opportunity to read as she passed in 2000. This spring I took it off the shelf and totally reworked it to bring it to date and recast Caitlin as Lena’s love interest rather than mere friend.
2. What, if anything, did you learn when writing the book?
Though I have a master’s degree in history, Scandinavia was not my area of specialty, so I learned more about the Danes, the Irish at that time period, and details about Leif Erikson that were omitted from general history texts.
3. What surprised you the most in writing it?
That I finished! Twenty plus years ago, that was a rarity. Also it surprised me that the rewrite went so quickly, but with five other novels under my belt by now, I am getting faster.
4. What does the title mean?
The working title was “Lena the Viking”, but that was really lame. She leads an expedition on a quest, so Viking Quest sounded much cooler!
5. Were any of the characters inspired by real people? If so, do they know?
Leif Erikson was an actual person, and though a minor character in this novel, I did much research to portray him properly. There was a King Cnute who ruled both Jutland and England during this time period (between the action in this book and the invasion of William the Conqueror, 1066) so one may use his/her imagination whether or not his mother was a fierce warrior-princess.
6. Do you consider the book to have a lesson or moral?
Naturally! There’s the whole good v. evil thing going, but also compassion, forgiveness, acceptance, and the process of making difficult decisions that require putting duty above preference. One character in particular, Gunnar, is placed in a moral dilemma in which he must choose between his oath of fealty to a murderous lord and his sense of honor and indebtedness to the young man who saved his life.
7. What is your favorite part of the book?
My mother’s favorite part was the visit to the troll village on an uncharted island north of Britannia; therefore, it is also my favorite. Once again, my aim was to be creative, entertaining, and still reflect on human behavior in a way that is relevant today.
8. Which character was most challenging to create? Why?
The most complex character to create was Gunnar, as he faced the tug-of-war moral decision. But Caitlin was challenging because I wanted to make her “Irishness” stand out in an authentic way. I enlisted the aid of a cousin in Northern Ireland for dialect then had to tone it down so the general reader could understand what she says.
9. What are your immediate future plans?
I am almost finished writing the fourth installment of my Night Flyer Series, Missing in Milan, and then the grueling editing process begins! Hoping to have it released before the end of August.
Edale Lane is an award-winning author (Rainbow Awards, Imaginarium Awards, Lesfic Bard Awards) who also drives a truck. She is the alter-ego of author Melodie Romeo, (Tribute in Blood, Terror in Time, and others) who founded Past and Prologue Press. Both identities are qualified to write historical fiction by virtue of an MA in History and 24 years spent as a teacher, along with skill and dedication regarding research. A native of Vicksburg, MS, Edale (or Melodie) is also a musician who loves animals, gardening, and nature. When not driving around North America, she resides with her partner in beautiful Chilliwack, B.C. Canada.