Jóhanna Katrín Friðriksdóttir


Fridriksdottir weaves a complex picture in which different kinds

of evidence successfully illuminate each other to provide a rich and detailed picture ... this book is intelligent, engaging and well written, with many new insights.

- Professor Judith Jesch, BBC History Magazine, June 1, 2020

'Fridriksdottir is too rigorous a scholar to leap to sensationalist conclusions but she brilliantly manages to make the Vikings feel far closer to us than ever before.'
- Kathryn Hughes, Mail on Sunday, May 2, 2020

Enter the world of sagas, runes, myths and magic to uncover the real lives of Viking women.

Valkyries: the female supernatural beings that choose who dies and who lives on the battlefield. They protect some, but guide spears, arrows and sword blades into the bodies of others. Viking myths about valkyries attempt to elevate the banality of war – to make the pain and suffering, the lost limbs and deformities, the piles of lifeless bodies of young men, glorious and worthwhile. Rather than their death being futile, it is their destiny and good fortune, determined by divine beings. The women in these stories take full part in the power struggles and upheavals in their communities, for better or worse.

Drawing on the latest historical and archaeological evidence, Valkyrie introduces readers to the dramatic and fascinating texts recorded in medieval Iceland, a culture able to imagine women in all kinds of roles carrying power, not just in this world, but pulling the strings in the other-world, too. In the process, this fascinating book uncovers the reality behind the myths and legends to reveal the dynamic, diverse lives of Viking women.

Published by Bloomsbury, April 2020.


I am a medievalist and literary scholar by training. My work is about Vikings, medieval Iceland and the reception of these in the modern era.

I studied at universities in Reykjavík, Iceland, and Brighton before completing my doctorate in medieval literature from the University of Oxford in 2010. I held research fellowships at the Árni Magnússon Institute for Icelandic Studies in Reykjavík and at Harvard University from 2010 to 2016. I was a lecturer at Yale University from 2017 to 2019 and I currently work at the National Library of Norway. I have published numerous articles, an edited volume and two books about medieval literature and manuscripts, and I have edited scholarly publications in the same fields. 

My most recent publication is Valkyrie: The Women of the Viking World,,published by Bloomsbury in 2020. I am currently working on a number of projects, including an edition of a medieval law code, and a new book about Vikings. I also work as a historical consultant for documentaries and feature films. 

My research interests focus on Vikings, Old Norse-Icelandic sagas, Norse mythology, and poetry, medieval manuscripts, medieval Iceland, women and gender, and identity issues more broadly.


I was one of the historical consultants for The Northman (2022), directed by Robert Eggers.


I research and write books, but I also work as a historical consultant, contribute material for a variety of publications, speak at public events and appear on podcasts.