Motherhood and war

"Birkebeiner: A story of motherhood and war" is Jeff Foltz's first novel.

"Birkebeiner: A story of motherhood and war" is Jeff Foltz's first novel.

Debut novel by Jeff Foltz tells the story of the Birkebeiners

By Christy Olsen Field
Norwegian American Weekly

A passion for cross-country skiing can take some unexpected turns.

Just ask Jeff Foltz, author of “Birkebeiner: A Story of Motherhood and War.” This debut novel delves into the story of the Birkebeiners.

Jeff Foltz, who lives in Camden, Maine, is an avid cross-country skier, and has competed five times in the American Birkebeiner, the largest Nordic ski marathon (52 kilometers) in North America. After completing the race, Foltz headed into after-ski venue to meet up with his fellow skiers. In the hallway lined with Birkebeiner memorabilia, a painting of two men on cross-country skis carrying a baby caught his eye.

“Those guys aren’t babysitters, so why are they carrying a baby?” Foltz wondered. It was a question that would change his life.

The painting was “Birkebeinerne” (The Birchlegs) by Knud Bergslien, who painted the iconic work in 1869. The painting caught Foltz’s attention several more times.

“My curiosity got to me. The more I researched, the more fascinated I became,” said Foltz.

Foltz researched the historical legend of the Birkebeiners at the National Library in Oslo and spent time at the Holmenkollen Ski Museum. Through his research, Foltz learned that there were three different versions of the Birkebeiners carrying Prince Hakon to safety. Back in the U.S., he continued his study at Cornell University’s Nordic History Library.

“I have read far more Norse sagas than anyone should!” joked Foltz.

He started the novel a decade ago, but didn’t feel he was a good enough writer at the time to complete it. He enrolled in the Masters of Fine Arts creative writing program at the University of Southern Maine to hone his craft. It was here that he received valuable feedback and support by faculty mentors such as Suzanne Strempek Shea (author of “Becoming Finola”), Roland Merullo (author of “Breakfast With Bhudda”) and Michael White (author of “Beautiful Assassin” and “Soul Catcher”).

During his studies, he discovered Inga, the baby’s mother, and how much Norwegian history and the people of Norway revere her. She had to be the main character of his novel.
Two years after her son Hakon’s birth, Inga is with her husband, King Hakon, in the besieged fortress of Lillehammer. The enemy, the Crozier army, is certain to overrun Lillehammer. Once the Croziers breach the walls, they will kill Inga’s child, heir to the Norwegian throne and the prince who may unite the country.

To save little Hakon, King Hakon asks his two best warriors to flee with his son for the safety of Nidaros (present-day Trondheim). It’s a long and dangerous journey on skis through two treacherous winter valleys and over a 7,000-foot snow-blown mountain. Willing to risk everything for her son, Inga insists on going with them. For eight harrowing, exhausting days, they’re pursued by a cadre of enemy soldiers bent on killing her child. Magnus, the Crozier’s military leader whom the church and the bishop call King – and who has lost his own wife and two-year-old son – must lead the chase.

To really imagine what the Birkebeiners felt on the harrowing journey, Foltz traveled to Norway in late winter, strapped on his skis, and traversed the same difficult terrain north of Lillehammer. Though the groomed trails made it easier for Foltz than the Birkebeiners had in 800 years prior, Foltz gained a new perspective.

One unique aspect of the novel is the use of Norwegian words.

“I wanted to give the book some flavor. One of the authors I like interjects Spanish into his novel, and uses in context so it wouldn’t need a translation,” said Foltz.

Foltz is not a Norwegian speaker, so he used five different Norwegian natives to help him translate certain words, from people at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minn., to mutual friends in New England who knew Norwegian.

“All responded with different translations,” Foltz laughed.

This well-crafted novel is filled with action and human emotion, and strikes a chord with the universal themes of a mother’s love and the ugliness of war. The Birkebeiners is an important part of Norwegian history, and Jeff Foltz’s debut novel tells the thrilling story with a fresh perspective.

“Birkebeiner: A Story of Motherhood and War” is available for $17.95 + $2.50 S&H. The book can purchased through the author’s website (,, or by mailing a check for $19.95 (includes shipping and handling) to: Birkebeiner The Novel, 253 Cobb Road, Camden, ME 04843.

This article was originally published in the June 17, 2011 issue of the Norwegian American Weekly. For more information about the Norwegian American Weekly or to subscribe, call us toll free (800) 305-0217 or email

24 thoughts on “Motherhood and war

  1. bijuterii fashion

    Hi! I just wanted to ask if you ever have any trouble with hackers? My last blog (wordpress) was hacked and I ended up losing a few months of hard work due to no data backup. Do you have any solutions to protect against hackers?

  2. Cornelia Co

    Interesting blog post. Some tips i would like to contribute is that computer memory ought to be purchased but if your computer cannot cope with whatever you do along with it. One can install two random access memory boards having 1GB each, for example, but not certainly one of 1GB and one of 2GB. One should check the maker’s documentation for the PC to ensure what type of ram is required.

  3. mortgage refinancing

    Howdy! I’m at work surfing around your blog from my new apple iphone! Just wanted to say I love reading your blog and look forward to all your posts! Carry on the fantastic work!

  4. Collene Gillmore

    Hi there are using WordPress for your site platform? I’m new to the blog world but I’m trying to get started and create my own. Do you need any coding expertise to make your own blog? Any help would be really appreciated!

  5. Lottie Olivares

    It’s appropriate time to make some plans for the future and it is time to be happy. I’ve read this post and if I could I desire to suggest you some interesting things or suggestions. Maybe you could write next articles referring to this article. I want to read even more things about it!

  6. dandruff causes

    First of all I would like to say great blog! I had a quick question that I’d like to ask if you don’t mind. I was interested to find out how you center yourself and clear your thoughts before writing. I have had a hard time clearing my thoughts in getting my ideas out there. I do take pleasure in writing however it just seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes are lost just trying to figure out how to begin. Any recommendations or hints? Many thanks!

  7. buy credit score

    Sweet blog! I found it while surfing around on Yahoo News. Do you have any suggestions on how to get listed in Yahoo News? I’ve been trying for a while but I never seem to get there! Thanks

  8. lawyers for unfair dismissal

    I’m curious to find out what blog platform you are using? I’m experiencing some small security issues with my latest blog and I would like to find something more safe. Do you have any solutions?

  9. Lucien Schkade

    I drop a leave a response whenever I like a article on a site or I have something to contribute to the discussion. It’s caused by the fire communicated in the article I looked at. And after this post benefitfinal benefitfinal ??12th & Porter Nashville. I was actually excited enough to drop a comment I do have some questions for you if you don’t mind. Could it be only me or do some of these remarks appear like written by brain dead visitors? And, if you are writing at additional social sites, I would like to follow everything new you have to post. Could you list all of all your shared pages like your Facebook page, twitter feed, or linkedin profile?

  10. wesele

    My partner and I stumbled over here by a different page and thought I might check things out. I like what I see so now i am following you. Look forward to finding out about your web page repeatedly.

  11. selling a life insurance policy

    My partner and I absolutely love your blog and find nearly all of your post’s to be exactly what I’m looking for. Would you offer guest writers to write content for you? I wouldn’t mind publishing a post or elaborating on a lot of the subjects you write concerning here. Again, awesome web log!

  12. what cures dandruff

    Incredible! This blog looks just like my old one! It’s on a entirely different subject but it has pretty much the same page layout and design. Wonderful choice of colors!

  13. Hermes Birkin Cheap

    Dramatically, a person who as a result inescapable fact your hottest relating to the fact that laudable matter. Definitely with the a conclusion which enables it to desperately expect your current honest revisions. Expressing regards find it difficult to basically on-line, to your amazing ability with your authoring. Allow me to most certainly without delay pick up your own eat regardless of the variety of improvements. Honest succeed and successes in the market efforts!

  14. porcelain veneers price

    My partner and I stumbled over here coming from a different page and thought I might as well check things out. I like what I see so i am just following you. Look forward to exploring your web page again.

  15. fotografia ślubna

    Hola! I’ve been following your web site for some time now and finally got the bravery to go ahead and give you a shout out from Austin Tx! Just wanted to tell you keep up the good job!

  16. katalog www

    Certainly I like your web-site, even so you might have to take a look at the spelling on quite some of your posts. Several of them are rife with spelling difficulties and I find it very troublesome to inform you. Nonetheless I’ll certainly come back again!

  17. Clayton Gagnier

    Wow, superb blog layout! How long have you been blogging for? you make blogging look easy. The overall look of your site is great, let alone the content!

  18. Irina Akimseu

    Amazing blog! Do you have any suggestions for aspiring writers? I’m planning to start my own blog soon but I’m a little lost on everything. Would you suggest starting with a free platform like WordPress or go for a paid option? There are so many choices out there that I’m completely overwhelmed .. Any recommendations? Appreciate it!

  19. kamerzysta

    These days, a company that does not have a mobile site will simply be unable to reach millions of people who shop online or who use their mobile phone to find a business. It’s simply so convenient for your customers and clients.

  20. ślub

    I like what you guys are up too. Such clever work and reporting! Carry on the excellent works guys I have incorporated you guys to my blogroll. I think it’ll improve the value of my site .

  21. Mariette Dolbin

    Wow! This blog looks exactly like my old one! It’s on a entirely different topic but it has pretty much the same layout and design. Wonderful choice of colors!

  22. Suzi Stiteler

    What i do not realize is in reality how you’re no longer actually a lot more well-appreciated than you may be right now. You are very intelligent. You already know thus considerably with regards to this matter, produced me for my part believe it from so many various angles. Its like men and women aren’t interested until it is something to accomplish with Woman gaga! Your own stuffs nice. All the time deal with it up!

Comments are closed.