THIS STORY is about a remarkable Viking family of great genius in the 11th century.
The family was able to coax tremendous wealth from the earth by invention and hard work, then driven from country to country by despotic kings and governments of TAKERS.
If you are of Scandinavian, Scottish, Irish, or English decent, these may have been your struggling ancestors.
The action in this book takes place in a time before the protection of the Magna Carta, the Constitution of the United States and the American Bill of Rights.
Read about a heroic families’ struggle for freedom and justice.
If you enjoyed reading the concepts of Ann Rand’s ATLAS SHRUGGED, you will find the Magnusson family struggling with the same issues of the government TAKING the intellectual capital and hard work of the people…1,000 years ago.
Readers have said, “It’s a Viking James Bond…it’s a page turner.” Others have said, “THE TAKERS are a metaphor of today’s business unfriendly American government.” It’s the ruling (TAKING) class with their sharp swords, against the producers of wealth and jobs.
KINGS, SWORDS, AND TAX COLLECTORS
Intelligence and hard work was no match for The Takers.
Copyright © 2014 by Pat Patterson
Library of Congress Control Number 2014907022
Createspace Independent Publishers Platform, North Charleston, S.C
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means without written permission of the author.
This is a work of fiction. All characters, names, organizations, places and events portrayed in this novel are either products solely of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any similarities are purely coincidental.
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My heartfelt thanks to everyone who encouraged me and helped edit this book. I would like to thank my fellow writers and friends at the Sarasota Writers Group for their brilliant, sometimes brutal, but always honest critique. I would also like to thank my writer friends at the Peace River Center for Writers at Edison State College, Punta Gorda Campus. I express my gratitude to Lisa Ashley for sharing her gift of an organized mind.
I would like to give a special “thank you” to Professor Douglas Houck. Without his encouragement, this book would have never gotten finished.
I honor my parents and ancestors that loved reading, writing, and encouraged me to read, write, and have imagination.
I dedicate this book to the memory of Ayn Rand whose wisdom about human nature taught us to be wary of those who would take what we earn by force. Her solution was to work, save, keep your money in gold, hide your gold, and then withdraw production quietly. Without production, the takers would have no money. Only then, would the takers, after years of printing worthless money, overtaxing, over regulating, denying opportunity, forcing people to accept their “help”, equalizing, and creating suffering, begin to understand the powerful engines of self-motivation, profit, and happiness.
This book is about man’s inhumanity to man and success that could have been. It is about government’s greed taking from an exceptional family. It is about destroyed incentives, and destroyed jobs. This Book is about the stronger taking from the weaker without constraint, in a time before the Magna Carta, the Constitution of the United States and The American Bill of Rights.
The English called these fierce Nordic people Vikings, or pirates. They came from areas now called Norway, Sweden, and Denmark. Nordic or Norse meant north.
The Norse had begun to settle the islands off the northern coast of Scotland, not long after the ice sheets melted at end of the last ice age, 10,000 years ago.
The Vikings started raiding England in 793 A.D. They liked this fertile, temperate country. Afterwards, many came in peace to settle, farm, and trade. The English were wary of the Viking settlers. The settler’s ways were different. They were quick to settle disputes with the sword and slow to assimilate into the English cultures. Their gods were still the Old Norse gods. A minority of the current generation accepted Christianity. This slowness to accept Christianity inflamed the priests and the Catholic royalty in England.
Vikings resented paying taxes to the English king. They banded together to throw the king’s men off their property. The English kings were reluctant to show force against these settlers, because of their continued loyalty to the strong and fearless Viking kings on the European mainland.
On November 14, 1002, the English king, Aethered II, finally attacked the Viking settlements. His troops were relentless in their attacks and slaughtered thousands of the settlers. As was the custom in those days, troops raped the women before killing them. The sister of King Sweyn became a victim. King Sweyn was a ferocious and powerful Viking king called, The Forkbeard.
Many times, the English kept the Vikings from attacking by paying tribute or “danegeld,” but this time the Norse would have their vengeance.
Outraged, King Sweyn in 1003 launched a flotilla of over two hundred ships filled with the fiercest warriors in his kingdom.
The Norseman, Skard Magnusson, awakened just before dawn feeling the pitch and roll of the king’s ship. He reached under his bunk, the strongbox still there, and his fortune safe. He was not sure what day it was, but he knew it was late summer of the English year 1003. Ten thousand small thin gold coins, payment for delivering fifteen thousand iron weapons to the Norseland garrison in England, lay in the heavy strongbox. King Sweyn bought an entire year of weapons from Skard’s iron foundry.
The big Norseman was returning home, back to his family and business in Hadeland. He missed the Great Fjord and the regular treks to Oslo, just up the coast. With good weather, he would be home in two days. He had already been at sea for three days.
He raised the ire of the garrison commander on his last day on English soil. Skard was a Christian and the Viking commander had begun to put captured English solders to death. Accused of rape and murder, the English soldiers came before the commander without trial or a judge. The Norse commander ordered the men’s deaths, a white-hot iron rod shoved into the anus of each captured man. The burning iron rod permanently sealed the anus shut. The released men, still alive, died a horrible death. After ten to fourteen days, the rotten gut burst and spilled its poison into the body. Unbearable pain caused most men to slit their own throats.
Norse law granted justice to all men, even those who warred against the Vikings. The commander was violating the law. Also under the law, it stated, all members of the guilty man’s family would pay fines, serve sentences, or die. Spouses, siblings, parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, nieces, nephews, and cousins were guilty as the accused. The closeness of kin determined their punishment level.
A group of Norse merchants under Skard’s leadership had approached the commander and protested his violation of their law. This protest from Skard caused the commander to scream, “I am working on direct orders from King Sweyn!” The terrible killings did not stop, but the commander noted Skard’s protests and sent an officer to report to the king.
The ship was a typical sturdy Viking ship. Its bow with a dragonhead raised high above the water. The ship’s stern was lower than the bow. The ship was thirty paces long and six paces wide. There were ten rowers’ benches on either side with two rowers for each bench. The mast supported a large square sail. Woodcutters cut tall oak trees and then sawed the wood in long thin strips called strakes. The strakes overlapped and formed the outer hull; iron rivets fastened, white lead, and pitch sealed the strakes. Strong thick oak timbers crisscrossed the insides of the ship.
Skard grabbed a strip of dried, salted cod, and walked up the stairs as the ship creaked, pitched, and rolled. He headed to the rear of the ship where the helmsman and the captain struggled to keep the pitching ship on course. The deck swayed and caused Skard to cling to the railings. He noticed in the faint light the scud ran fast above the mountainous waves. The dawn sky close to the horizon was blood red.
Ominous the night before, they sweated from the heat and humidity. The sea calm and the sail slack.
The only time this weather condition occurred this time of year on the North Sea was when a storm gathered. Now the wind blew hard and whipped the sea spray from the tops of the waves in white sheets.
The short stout captain looked worried. The helmsman struggled with the long tiller handle to keep the ship pointed into the tall waves. The sail furled; the wind powered the ship forward.
The rowers sat at their benches, ready to pull the ship back on course. Rowers held the bottom of their benches; the ship wallowed in the heavy sea. The rain blew sideways and the salt water stung the men’s faces and eyes. Forked fingers of lightning flashed furiously followed by quick cracks of loud thunder.
The ship slid up the wave crest, and then dropped like a stone. So long as the ship remained square to the oncoming waves, her high bow sliced the waves like a knife. The waves became larger and larger. On top of tall waves, the helmsman’s rudder pulled out of the water. It became impossible to keep the ship pointed into the oncoming wave.
Skard clung to the deck railing tightly. On the top of an enormous wave, the ship turned sideways, rolled over, and flung every man into the sea. The North Sea, even in summer, was cold.
Skard Magnusson could swim, but he became tired. As he shivered and treaded water, he thought about his wife and son in Norseland. Soon, he became sleepy and slipped beneath the waves.
Lodar Magnusson’s eighteen-year-old best friend, Gyrd Solmund looked up from the foundry iron-pouring table as a king’s soldier walked toward them. Gyrd punched Lodar on the shoulder and motioned with his head toward the man as he walked through the outside doorway. The man motioned for them to come there. Gyrd shouted across the room for two standby furnace bellows men to take their places at the pouring table. Lodar and Gyrd walked toward the cooling shed; it was much quieter.
Lodar wondered; is the taxman coming for his ‘pound of flesh’ as Father called the king’s government taxes. They usually do not visit this time of year; Father always dealt with them.
The man looked at Lodar and asked, “Are you Skard Magnusson’s son?”
Lodar nodded, “Yes.”
The man said, “The king’s council in Oslo sent me to tell you your father drowned in a violent storm returning to Norseland from Britain; one person survived. A half-dead rower floated on top of a timber from the splintered ship. The survivor washed ashore on the Friesen Islands off the coast of Jutland (Denmark).”
Lodar sucked in his breath as the man talked; Gyrd put his arm around his friend’s shoulder. Lodar burst into tears. He put his face into his dirty hands.