2017 INL Reads! Selection is “Ivory Vikings” by Nancy Marie Brown

By Angel Johnson-Nelson

 Attendees of the 2017 Icelandic National League of North America convention were the first to learn that a recently published nonfiction book is this year’s choice for the 2017 INL Reads! Program.  Ivory-Vikings-hi-res book cover

 Author, historian, and Icelandic Online Club member Nancy Marie Brown is the author of four non-fiction books on Icelandic history, myths, science, and sagas. She drew from these same sources of knowledge for her first work of fiction, The Saga of Gudrid the Far-Traveler. Her latest book, and our 2017 INL Reads! selection, is Ivory Vikings: The Mystery of the Most Famous Chessmen in the World and the Woman Who Made Them.

In the early 1800s, 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 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? 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, 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.

Ivory Vikings came out in paperback in September 2016 from St. Martin’s Griffin. In a starred review, Booklist calls it “a delight” and “endlessly fascinating.” The New Yorker chimes in with “exciting” and “absorbing,” while according to The Economist, “the story bristles with fascinating facts.”

 Ivory Vikings is “a true cornucopia, bursting with delicious revelations,” says advance reader Geraldine Brooks, winner of the Pulitzer Prize. “Whether your passion is chess, art, archaeology, literature, or the uncanny and beautiful landscape of Iceland, Ivory Vikings offers rich and original insights by a writer who is as erudite as she is engaging.”

 The Icelandic Online Club plans to enhance the other INLNA clubs’ book reading experience by providing a reader’s discussion guide and an exclusive post-read interview with the author.

 Nancy’s book can be purchased at:

 Amazon: amazon.com/Ivory-Vikings-Walrus-Created-Chessmen/dp/1137279370/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1420161317&sr=1-1&keywords=ivory+Vikings

 Barnes & Noble: barnesandnoble.com/w/ivory-vikings-nancy-marie-brown/1121270042?ean=9781137279378

 Ask your local bookstore to order ISBN 978-1-137-27937-8 (hardcover) or ISBN 978-1-250-10859-3 (paperback)

 For an autographed copy, contact Kim at Green Mountain Books and Prints at:


Phone: (802) 626-5051

 For more information about Nancy and her books go to: nancymariebrown.com

To schedule an event, contact Nancy directly at: nancymariebrown@gmail.com

To join her in Iceland, see: America2Iceland.com

 Follow her blog, “God of Wednesday,” at: nancymariebrown.blogspot.com

 Find her on Facebook at: facebook.com/nancy.marie.brown

About the author:

Nancy Marie Brown 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?”Nancy Marie Brown headshot

She is the author of six general interest books and one young adult novel: Ivory Vikings (published in paperback September 2016), The Saga of Gudrid the Far-Traveler (the novel; published in June 2015), Song of the Vikings (from 2012), The Abacus and the Cross (from 2010), The Far Traveler (from 2007), Mendel in the Kitchen (from 2004), and A Good Horse Has No Color (published in 2001).

For 20 years, Nancy worked as a science writer and editor for Research/Penn State magazine, published by Penn State University. She holds a B.A. in English (from the Writing Option) and an M.A. in Comparative Literature (with emphases in Arthurian Romance and Icelandic Saga), both from the Penn State. She turned to writing books full time in 2003, when she moved to a farm in northern Vermont where she and her husband, author Charles Fergus, keep four Icelandic horses and an Icelandic sheepdog. She spends part of each summer in Iceland, offering history and horseback tours in collaboration with the company America2Iceland.

 For more information about Nancy and her books go to: nancymariebrown.com

To schedule an event, contact Nancy directly at: nancymariebrown@gmail.com

To join her in Iceland, see: America2Iceland.com

Follow her blog, “God of Wednesday,” at: nancymariebrown.blogspot.com

Find her on Facebook at: facebook.com/nancy.marie.brown

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