Women of power. I’ve never cared for helpless women in life or fiction. One, I can be a jerk. I need a woman who will growl back at me if I’m out of line. Two, helpless anybody is too high maintenance; you’re always putting out one fire or another. Give me a woman that can dust it up any day. This doesn’t mean she has to be physically stronger than the men. I make this point with Sigurlina when she fills in for the men on the oars, so that they can relieve themselves or get a bite to eat. She can keep up with the other rowers for a short time, but only for a short time. This acknowledges the simple truth that men have more upper-body strength than women. Women have better oxygen metabolism, endurance, and generally a higher pain threshold. Plus Sigurlina is a Seith, she wins hands down. :-)
In Horn of the Kraken I play to strong women doing many of the roles they would have done in Norse society. The Norse did have a division of labour based on gender. Men did not work looms or grind flower. This didn’t unbalance their society because both sides had restrictions. I have been told that if a man wanted to study Seith he would have to live as a woman while he did so. Dressing as a woman doing woman’s work, the whole nine yards. Conversely, if a woman wanted to go a Viking she would have to live as a man for the voyage. Frankly, on a small ship this makes a lot of sense. Gender was defined by clothing and social function similar to some of the North American first people’s tribes.
I was temped to include this aspect in Horn of the Kraken, but for the sake of the Fjorn, Sigurlina relationship, and the mind set of modern readers, I decided against it.