Character Profile: Brynhild

thirty years war

Cavalry Battle by August Querfurt [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

I’m always a little intimidated when fictionalizing larger-than-life historical figures like Cardinal Richelieu, Gustav Adolf, or Wallenstein. Often, they’ve already been fictionalized quite a bit, so people have pretty specific ideas about them going in.

The only fictional portrayal I’ve found (in English at least; I’m sure Swedish would be another matter) of Gustav Adolf is in Eric Flint’s 1632, which I quickly read to make sure I’m not inadvertently copying. Definitely not, though it’s a fun read. I know I had pretty strong preconceptions of the other two though, so I decided I could solve that problem by turning them both into women. So, Richelieu became Natalya Maxima, and Wallenstein turned into Brynhild Mattila.

Mattila is a real piece of work. She and Teodora have a long, ugly history, dating back to Teodora’s late teens. The young archduchess was a junior officer under Mattila’s command, and for some reason Mattila couldn’t stand her. I’m not actually being sarcastic when I say “for some reason,” because I picture a teenage Teodora as bitchy, cocky, somewhat insecure, but also kind of adorable, like a baby lion. It’s the grownup version that’s the problem.

Anyway, Mattila picks on her, bullies her and worse- though most of  that won’t be revealed until Hammer of the Gods. So by the time Teodora is twenty, there’s an enduring, mutual hatred. That’s why it’s so hard for Teodora to call on her when she desperately needs an army. In the intervening twenty years or so, Mattila has been a very successful mercenary general, in addition to piling up a significant amount of wealth as a result of the Moraltan rebellion (see Rise of the Storm), so it makes sense for Teodora to hire her.

Mattila is unimpressed at Teodora’s higher status and still treats her like an incompetent cadet most of the time. Even though she agrees to work for Teodora, she doesn’t want her around, which is probably a wise move. She does take Teodora’s daughter Elektra along, and they proceed to have a difficult, though somewhat less violent relationship.

Once Mattila has defeated Arryk, she looks around for a way to expand her influence even farther.With all of Kronland in upheaval from years of war, she thinks of taking over one of the largest and richest kingdoms, someplace where Teodora will never be able to ignore her again. This woman is trouble!

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2 comments on “Character Profile: Brynhild
  1. Ed Hoornaert says:

    Swapping genders is great way around the problem of fictionalizing real people.

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