The scattered settlements of Saxon England faced terror of a new kind when Viking warriors swarmed their shores. At first, the invaders kept to the coasts. Then they sailed up the wide rivers in their long fearsome boats, setting fire to villages as they seized anything of value. Then they gained a foothold on the land, establishing villages from which they could mount a campaign of conquest against the Saxons.
The irony is that the Saxons had done much the same only a couple of centuries earlier. Taking advantage of the vacuum left by the departing Romans around 500 AD, Saxon, Angles, Jutes, and other Germanic tribes sailed across the Channel and piled into the English countryside to claim the land as their own. Now, by 800 AD, Scandinavian tribes followed the same pattern.
Among the bargains struck between conquered Saxon lords and their Viking challengers were exchanges of prisoners, payment of bartered wealth, and—perhaps most prized—the Saxon maid. But “The Captive” isn’t a story of a cowering Saxon maid, but rather a worldly-wise Saxon lady with an estate at her fingertips.
Confronted with a Danish warrior, she does the unthinkable.
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