Who’s That Girl? By Gina Conkle

Lagertha and son, Bjorn Photo Credit: Jonathan Hession

Have you thought about the female characters you love to read? Or the ladies of the silver screen you like to watch again and again?

Why do you love them so much?

Vikings have that effect on me, whether male or female characters. Sure, my inner history nerd acknowledges Vikings were at times brutal raiders. Yet, I also see some of history’s strongest women and most fair-minded people. I keep going back to them whether I’m reading fiction or non-fiction.

If you read the sagas, you’ll find sword wielding shield maidens. You’ll find femme fatales615Nuh5mJfL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_ and wily women.  You’ll even find sweet-natured girls.

But shrinking violets? Damsel’s in distress? Good luck.

Lately, I’ve come to suspect readers today want strong women. They want women who are feminine, kind-hearted, and intelligent…be they leaders or milk maids. Take a look at the audience reaction to Kathryn Winnick who plays Lagertha on History Channel’s Vikings (posted at the end).

I was very surprised at what I heard.

Fan after fan got up and thanked Kathryn Winnick and Michael Hirst (the show’s writer and creator) for giving them such a strong female character in Lagertha. I couldn’t agree more.

iStock_000023885652SmallThe funny thing? I don’t tend to like reading or writing weapon wielding women. But, I do want kick-butt heroines who know when to take charge and when to listen. I want a woman who gives a man his comeuppance if it’s warranted. She stands toe to toe with him and also knows when to walk away.

If you think this sense of independence only applies to free born Viking women, read the tale of Melkorka of Iceland, a thrall (slave) with a mind of her own. Her life reads like fiction: big, bold, and full of sass. And then there were the women who helped settle Iceland. Many became independent landowners — something unheard of in other Dark Ages cultures.

Have you heard of Gudrid? She was a Viking woman a lot of historians claimed was pure gudrid_08saga fantasy…until archaeologists unearthed her longhouse and discovered the truth. As a young woman, she traveled from Iceland to North America with a boat full of men. A few lusted after the attractive Gudrid, but she held her own with the men and with the Skraelings (Viking name for the indigenous people they encountered).

Gudrid lived in North America for three years, gave birth while there, and then returned home to Iceland. Wanderlust must’ve bit her, because records show Gudrid traveled far south to Rome…just to see the famed city.

These are women worth reading.

Do you have a favorite female lead? Why not share (book, television, or movie) and tell me why. There’s a $10 Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift card giveaway for one random commenter (to be drawn September 15th). Be sure to leave your contact email.

cc6e2361-bacd-4adb-af01-a449dbe8ab38_hplogo2014If you’re curious for more Viking romance, please stop by “Hummingbird Place” a BlogTalkRadio show on Monday, September 22 at 7:00 PM EST. We’ll talk Viking romance plus there’ll be giveaways.  Here’s the link: “HummingbirdPlace” 

Are you playing Embracing Romance’s trivia game? Here’s your question:

What is the name of Lagertha’s son?

Be sure to turn in your answer at the top of the page, and thanks for stopping by ER’s blog!  50 percent ~Cheers to you, Reader! Gina

Follow Gina Conkle:

A writer of Viking and Georgian romance with a softly sensual side, Gina loves history, books and romance…the perfect recipe for historical romance writer. Her passion for castles and old places (the older and moldier the better!) means interesting family vacations. When not visiting fascinating places, she can be found delving into the latest adventures in cooking, gardening, and chauffeuring her sons.

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19 Responses

    • ginaconkle2013

      Hi Kathleen,
      Thanks for stopping by the blog. Be sure to leave your Romance Trivia answer at the top of the page.
      Have a great day-

  1. pattymvanhulle

    I love all female characters, whether the heroine or spunky sidekick, who walk in either slippers or stilettos, but command the rooms they walk into. I also love a kick a$$ & takes names, who can disarm any male with the lower of her smothering eyes. But most a of all I love a Wallflower who unlocks her inner BAD GIRL & commands any male & knocks him down a whole ladder! And it’s ever better if it’s a DUKE!

    • ginaconkle2013

      Hi Patty,
      I had a nice laugh at the image of a wallflower and her Duke. You must love Lisa Kleypas’s “Wallflower” series. It is nice to see the quiet, introverted heroine shine.
      Thanks for stopping by today!

  2. Violetta Rand (@ViolettaRand)

    Great post, Gina. As a fellow Viking writer, I love any woman from the Viking era. I especially appreciate the mythical Valkyries. One of my favorite heroines from history is Queen
    Elizabeth I–what a woman.

    • ginaconkle2013

      Hi Violetta,
      Vikings rock! We share that love…and I heard that Michael Hirst was creatively involved in the movie “Elizabeth.” Loved that movie. Great minds think alike. 🙂
      Have a great day-

    • ginaconkle2013

      Thanks for stopping by the blog and sharing the book/movie you liked. Was Morgan La Fey a favorite? Lots of strong women in that story.

  3. Glenda

    Hey Gina! So many strong women characters to choose from real and fictional. I do love when a female discovers her inner Valkyrie and kicks some behind even if it is only metaphorically. 🙂 One of my favorites growing up was Eowyn from Lord of the Rings. I admit, I got a tinsy bit irritated with her when she went all moony over Aragorn – but I was in middle school and had little patience with romance.

    • ginaconkle2013gina

      Hi Glenda,
      I love the female discovering “inner Valkyrie.” With your Lord of the Rings choice, you must enjoy epic and otherworldly. I can’t believe I’ve never read the LotR trilogy but my boys have. Plus we have the movies. If the book Aragorn is anything like Viggo Mortensen, then I can understand the mooning. 🙂 I’m glad you enjoy romance now.
      Thanks for stopping by the blog

  4. JoannaM

    What a lovely topic! I have for as long as I remember been captivated by strong, independent, relentless heroines. And there is nothing wrong with a charming, loving,and caring one but if she knows how to yield a weapon and speak her mind the better! Margaret Thatcher is a favorite real life character. I have tons of fictional favorites but Merida of Disney’s Brave reminds me a of my mom and me LOL and Belle of Beauty and the Beast of course (yes she was a damsel in distress of sorts but had a mind of her own and wasn’t scared of the beast =P). And the Amazons of the Greek mythology, Wonder Woman is the man. Or the Woman in this case. Thanks!!

    • ginaconkle2013

      Hi Joanna,
      I enjoyed your diverse examples of heroines. Real life Margaret Thatcher is a great example of someone leading by example with pluck and fortitude. Thanks for bringing in the Disney heroines. They make such an impact on future women, and I didn’t even think about examples in mythology…a rich field of women there!
      Thanks for sharing, Joanna!

  5. jessicajefferson

    I think historical romance is full of strong women. It’s been my observation that at first glance, it may appear as if the hero is doing the rescuing, but in the end – it’s the heroine that actually rescues the hero. Wasn’t that a line from Pretty Woman?

    • JoannaM

      I knew there was a reason I love Historical romance so much!! Besides romance of course, the heroine does some saving of her own 😉

    • ginaconkle2013

      Hi Jessica,
      You bring up something interesting: are most romance books more male centric stories? Or female centric? I had a friend of mine (another historical romance writer) tell me that she thought my stories really were about the hero. My men did the most changing in the character arc, as affected by the heroine. That said, I sometimes like to read the damsel in distress story. But, I think the reading/viewing public is hungry for characters like Lagertha in ‘Vikings.’ I was really surprised to hear fan after fan gush over “thank you for giving us a strong female lead.”
      Have a great day-

  6. ginaconkle2013

    The winner (combined this blog and my Gina Conkle “Doorway to History” blog) is ….