Monday, September 28, 2015

Learn about the Viking History of the Most Famous Chessmen in the World

The Book Nook is proud to host Vermont author Nancy Marie Brown to talk about her new book "Ivory Vikings" at 7pm at the Fletcher Memorial Library at 88 Main Street in Ludlow. The Ivory Vikings refer to the world famous Lewis Chessmen that were found on the Isle of Lewis in 1831. On a Hebridean beach in Scotland, the sea exposed an ancient treasure cache: 93 chessmen carved from walrus ivory. Norse netsuke, each face individual, each full of quirks, the Lewis Chessmen are probably the most famous chess pieces in the world. Harry played Wizard's Chess with them in movie adaptation of "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone". Housed at the British Museum, they are among its most visited and beloved objects.

Questions abounded: Who carved them? Where? Nancy Marie Brown's Ivory Vikings explores these mysteries by connecting medieval Icelandic sagas with modern archaeology, art history, forensics, and the history of board games. In the process, Ivory Vikings presents a vivid history of the 400 years when the Vikings ruled the North Atlantic, and the sea-road connected countries and islands we think of as far apart and culturally distinct: Norway and Scotland, Ireland and Iceland, and Greenland and North America. The story of the Lewis chessmen explains the economic lure behind the Viking voyages to the west in the 800s and 900s. And finally, it brings from the shadows an extraordinarily talented woman artist of the twelfth century: Margret the Adroit of Iceland.

Nancy Marie Brown is the author of six general interest books and one young adult novel: "Ivory Vikings" , "The Saga of Gudrid the Far-Traveler", "Song of the Vikings", "The Abacus and the Cross", "The Far Traveler", "Mendel in the Kitchen", and "A Good Horse Has No Color".  She writes about Iceland and Vikings, science and sagas. Her books combine extremes: medieval literature and modern archaeology, myths and facts. They ask, What have we overlooked? What have we forgotten? Whose history must not be lost?

For 20 years, Nancy worked as a science writer and editor at Penn State University. She continues to provide editing services for a select group of clients, as well as serving on the editorial committee of The Icelandic Horse Quarterly. She lives in northern Vermont, where she keeps four Icelandic horses and an Icelandic sheepdog, and spends part of each summer in Iceland, offering history and horseback tours in collaboration with America2Iceland.

Nancy is a member of the Medieval Academy of America, the National Association of Science Writers, the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, the American-Scandinavian Society, the Mythopoeic Society, the Icelandic National League, and the U.S. Icelandic Horse Congress.
She grew up in Media, Pennsylvania, and attended Penncrest High School, graduating in 1977. She holds a B.A. in English (Writing Option) and an M.A. in Comparative Literature (with emphases in Arthurian Romance and Icelandic Saga), both from the Pennsylvania State University. She is married to the writer Charles Fergus, author of 16 books about nature and the outdoors, as well as the novels Shadowcatcher (Soho 1991) and A Stranger Here Below: A Gideon Stolz Novel (forthcoming).

Brown will talk about the "Ivory Vikings" on Tuesday October 13th at 7pm at Ludlow's Fletcher Memorial Library.  The event will take place downstairs in the Community room, so please park and enter at the back of the library.  Copies of "Ivory Vikings" and other of Brown's books will be available for sale at the author talk. Please join us for this fascinating look at Vikings and the famous Lewis Chessmen.  

The Book Nook
An independent bookstore in Ludlow, Vermont

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