The Corvette of the XXX
Bad Asses of the North

OK – as most of you know by now, I’ve been involved in heavy nerdism as I research Odin’s End. I know that (technically) the brain can’t feel pain, but mine now challenges that dearly-held notion.

 Our heroine, Adele, and our hero, Rorik, meet at sea in what might be considered unfortunate circumstances. Adele is fleeing Fontevraud Abbey, because, sadly, the new abbess considers her a witch – not to mention a political threat – and wants to roast her at the stake.

 Then  Rorik and his band of Viking bad asses happen upon her ship (which is a medieval cog, by the way), kill all the crew, and take Adele and her monk buddies captive. Ah – how to win friends and influence people.

So I had to look up info on Adele’s and Rorik’s ships, since my only experience with boats of any kind is Celebrity Cruises, or the ones in Amsterdam that take you on a 2-hour all-you-can-drink winefest . Oh yeah, there’s a tour of Amsterdam included in that, not that I ever noticed.

So anyway, what about Adele’s cog and Rorik’s longship? Well, since this is my blog and party, and I LUV  Barbarian Hotness, we’ll start with Rorik’s longship and navigation. Some basics:

  • Vikings may have used a magnetized needle (which was a needle floating freely in a bowl). This wasn’t a compass, though – the floating needle only indicated direction. With a floating needle sailors of the time (before the 13th century) still had to follow the coast and try to stay in port during the winter to avoid cloudy skies. So, Rorik (the Barbarian Hotness in Odin’s End) attacks Adele’s ship at dusk, and in the winter.  Hmmmm – think he might need or want something REALLY badly?
  • Longships – what Rorik and his band of not-so-merry men are sailing – were 15 “rooms” or more long. Above 30 rooms, then the ship was called a dragonship. Let’s clarify, though – a “room” wasn’t a room like you’re thinking. It was the space between the ribs of the ship where the oarsmen would sit. A longship could carry about 8 warriors per room. So, a longship would have 15 spaces on each side (so, maybe 120 warriors??), whereas a dragonship would have 30. Truly wicked cool, but
  • Only 16 dragonships were reported in Norway between 995 and 1263. Dragonships were expensive and not very seaworthy. Used by kings primarily to show off their wealth.
  • Function of the ship? To use the sail to get warriors to the scene of the action, use the oars and careful steering to get into position near their target, and then kick ass. Let me know if further explanation is needed here.

Now – there’s a LOT more that I had to research to help out Rorik. Because, and clearly you weren’t paying attention, he really doesn’t have a whole lot of warriors left by the time he attacks Adele’s ship. We don’t know it yet, but Rorik is a Viking guy with some problems.

So anyway – more on our medieval boats over the next several days. I had no idea when I started this scene that it would be SO MUCH WORK (otherwise, I would have put them in a Starbuck’s). But still, Rorik’s world is incredibly interesting, even if his ships don’t have the little niceties of Celebrity Cruises – like 24-hour room service and unending supplies of drinks with paper umbrellas.