The ships of the men of Torvaldsland are swift. In a day, a full Gorean day of twenty Ahn, with a fair wind they
can cover from two hundred to two hundred and fifty pasangs. Marauders of Gor, page 56
Another feature of the northern ships is that they have, in effect, a prow on each end. This permits them to be
beached, on rollers, more easily. They can be brought to land in either direction, a valuable property in the
rocky, swift northern waters. Furthermore this permits the rowers, in reversing position on the benches, to
reverse the direction of the ship. This adds considerably to the manoeuvrability of the craft. It is almost
impossible to ram one of the swift ships of the north. Marauders of Gor, page 32, 33
There were twenty benches to a side, with two men to each bench. It carried , thus, forty oars, with two men
to each bench. It carried, thus, forty oars, with two men to each aor. Tersites of Port Kar, the controversial
inventor and shipwright, had advocated more than one man to an oar but, generally, the southern galleys
utilized one man per oar, three oars and three men on a diagonal bench, facing aft, the oars staggered, the
diagonality of the bench permitting the multiplicity of levers. The oars were generally some nineteen feet in
length, and narrower than the southern oars, that they might cut and sweep with the great speed, more rapidly than the wider bladed oar; and with two men to each oar,
and the lightness of the ship, this would produce great speed. As in the southern galleys the keel to beam ratio was designed, too, for swiftness, being generally in the
neighborhood of one to eight. Forkbeard's ship, or serpent as they are sometimes called, was approximately eighty feet Gorean in length, with the beam of some ten feet
Gorean. His ships, like most northern ships, did not have a rowing frame, and the rowers sat within in hull proper, facing, of course aft. Marauders of Gor, page 31
The Mast and Lookout
The lookout stood upon a broad, flat wooden ring, bound in leather, covered with the fur of sea sleen, which fits over the mast. It has a diameter of about thirty inches. It
sets near the top of the mast, enabling the man to see over the sail, as well as to other points. He, standing on this ring, fastens himself by the wait to the mast by looping
and buckling a heavy belt about it, and through his master belt. Usually, too, he keeps one hand on or about the mast. The wooden ring is reached by climbing a knotted
rope. The mast is not high, only about thirty -five feet Gorean, but it permits a scanning of the horizon to some ten pasangs. Marauders of Gor, page 59
Guiding Their Ships
The men of Torvaldsland sometimes guide their vessels by noting the direction of the waves, breaking against the prow, these correlated with prevailing winds. Sometimes
they use the shadows of the gunwales, failing across the thwarts, judging their angles. The sun, too, of course, is used, and, at night, the stars give them suitable compass,
even in the open sea. Marauders of Gor, page 56
It is a matter of their tradition not to rely on the needle compass, as is done in the south. The Gorean compass points always to the Sardar, the home of Priest-Kings.
The men of Torvaldsland do not use it. They do not need it.
The sextant, however, correlated with sun and stars is not unknown to them. It is commonly relied on, however, only in unfamiliar waters.
Even fog banks, and the feeding grounds of whales, and ice floes, in given season, in their own waters, give the men of Torvaldsland information as to their whereabouts,
they utilizing such things as easily, as unconsciously, as a peasant might a mountain, or a hunter a river. Marauders of Gor, page 56
Two men of Svein Blue Tooth rose to their feet and silenced the crowd with two blasts on curved, bronze signal horns, of a sort often used for communication between ships.
The men of Torvaldsland have in common a code of sound signals, given by the horns, consisting of some forty messages. Messages such as “Attack,” “Heave to,” “Regroup,”
and “Communication desired” have each their special combination of sounds". This sort of thing is done more effectively, in my own opinion, in the south by the means of
flags, run commonly from the prow cleats to the height of the stem castle. Flags, of course are useless at night. At night ship's lanterns may be used, but there is no
standardization in their use, even among the ships of a given port. There are shield signals, too, however, it might be mentioned, in Torvaldsland, though these are quite
limited. Two that are universal in Torvaldsland are the red shield for war, the white for peace. The men of Torvaldsland, hearing the blasts on the bronze horns, were silent.
The blasts had been the signal for attention. Marauders of Gor, page 181
There was a great cheer from the men of Ivar Forkbeard. The serpent turned slowly between the high cliffs, and entered the inlet. Here and there, clinging to the rock, were
lichens, and small bushes, and even stunted trees. The water below us was deep and cold.
I felt a breeze from inland, coming to meet the sea. The oars lifted and fell. The sail fell slack, and rustled, stirred in the gentle wind from inland. Men of Torvaldsland reefed it
high to the spar.
The rowing song was strong and happy in the lusty throats of the crew of the Forkbeard. The serpent took its way between the cliffs, looming high on each side. Ivar
Forkbeard, at the prow, lifted a great, curved bronze horn and blew a blast. I heard it echo among the cliffs. Marauders of Gor, page 80
Three other men of the Forkbeard attended to fishing, two with a net, sweeping it along the side of the serpent, for parsit fish, and the third, near the stem, with a hook and
line, baited with vulo liver, for the white bellied grunt, a large game fish which haunts the plankton banks to feed on parsit fish. Marauders of Gor, page 59
Once the Forkbeard went to her and taught her to check the scoop, with her left hand, for snails, that they not be thrown overboard.
Returning to me, he held one of the snails, whose shell he crushed between his fingers, and sucked out the animal, chewing and swallowing it. He then threw the shell
''They are edible,'' he said. ''And we use them for fish bait.'' Marauders of Gor, page 62
"The Forkbeard then, to the delight of those on the bank, who cheered him, as the serpent edged into the dock, addressed himself delightedly to the oar-dance of the rover
of Torvaldsland. It is not actually a dance, of course, but it is an athletic feat of no little stature requiring a superb eye, fantastic balance and incredible coordination. Ivar
Forkbeard, crying out, leaped from moving oar to moving oar, proceeding from the oars nearest the stem on the port side to the stern, then leaping back onto the deck at
the stern quarter and leaping again on the oars this time on the starboard side, and proceeding from the oar nearest the stern to that nearest the stem, and then, lifting his
arms, he leaped again into the ship, almost thrown into it as the oar lifted. He then stood on the prow, near me, sweating and grinning. I saw cups of ale, on the bank, being
lifted to him. Men cheered. I heard the cries of bond-maids. Marauders of Gor, page 82, 82
Ivar Forkbeard's Serpent
The ship was a beautiful ship, sleek and well-lined. It was a twenty-bencher, but this nomenclature may be confusing. There were twenty benches to a side, with two men to
each bench. It carried , thus, forty oars, with two men to each bench. It carried, thus, forty oars, with two men to each aor. Tersites of Port Kar, the controversial inventor
and shipwright, had advocated more than one man to an oar but, generally, the southern galleys utilized one man per oar, three oars and three men on a diagonal bench,
facing aft, the oars staggered, the diagonality of the bench permitting the multiplicity of levers. The oars were generally some nineteen feet in length, and narrower than the
southern oars, that they might cut and sweep with the great speed, more rapidly than the wider bladed oar; and with two men to each oar, and the lightness of the ship,
this would produce great speed. As in the southern galleys the keel to beam ratio was designed, too, for swiftness, being generally in the neighborhood of one to eight.
Forkbeard's ship, or serpent as they are sometimes called, was approximately eighty feet Gorean in length, with the beam of some ten feet Gorean. His ships, like most
northern ships, did not have a rowing frame, and the rowers sat within in hull proper, facing, of course aft. The thole ports, I noted, had covers on the inside, on swivels,
which permitted them to be closed when the ship was under sail. The sail was quite different from the southern ships, being generally squarish, though somewhat wider at
the bottom. The mast, like that of the southern ships, could be lowered. It fitted into two blocks of wood, and was wedged in the top of the block by means of a heavy,
diagonal wooden plug, driven tight with hammers. The northern ship carries one sail, not the several sails, all lateens, of the southern ships, which must be removed and
replaced. It was an all purpose sail, hung straight from a spar of needle wood. It can be shortened or let out by reefing ropes. At its edges, corner spars can hold it spread
from the ship. I doubted that such a ship could sail as close to the wind as a lateen-rigged ship but the advantages of being able to shorten or let out sail in a matter of
moments were not inconsiderable. The sail was striped, red and white. Marauders of Gor, page 31
The sail was striped, red and white. The ship like most of the northern ships, was clinker built, being constructed of overlapping planks, or strakes, the frame then fitted
within them. Between the strakes, tarred ropes and tar served as calking. Outside the planks, too, was a coating of painted tar, to protect them from the sea, and the
depredations of ship worms. The tar was painted red and black, in irregular lines. The ship, at night, mast down with such colorings, moving inland on a river, among the
shadows, would be extremely difficult to detect. It was a raider’s ship. The clinker-built construction, as opposed to the carvel construction of the south, with flush planking, is
somewhat more inclined to leak, but is much stronger in the high waters of the north. The clinker construction allows the ship to literally bend and twist, almost elastically, in
a vicious sea; the hull planking can be bent more than a foot Gorean without buckling. The decking on the ship is loose, and may be lifted or put to one side, to increase
cargo space. The ship, of course, is open. To protect goods or men from the rain or sun a large rectangle of boskhide, on stakes, tentlike, stretched to cleats on the
gunwales, is sometimes used. This same rectangle of boskhide, may be used, dropped between the gunwales, to collect rainwater. At night the men sleep on the deck, in
waterproof bags, sewn from the skins of the sea sleen; in such a bag , also, they store their gear, generally beneath their bench. In some such ships, the men sit not on
benches but on their own large locked sea chests, fixed in place, using them as benches.
Marauders of Gor, page 32
Forkbeard and I sat in the shade, under a tented awning of sewn boskhides, some thirty-five feet in length. It begins aft of the mast, which is set forward. It rests on four
poles, with two long, narrow poles, fixed in sockets, mounted in tandem fashion, serving as a single ridge pole. These poles can also be used in pushing off, and thwarting
collisions on rocks. The bottom edges of the tented awning are stretched taut and tied to cleats in the gunwales. There is about a foot of space between the gunwales and
the bottoms of the tented awnings, permitting a view to sea on either side. Marauders of Gor, page 58
The Black Sleen, Ship of Thorgard of Scagnar
''Thorgard is quite proud of his great longship,'' he said, ''the serpent called Black Sleen.''
I had heard of the ship.
''It has a much higher freeboard than this vessel,'' I told Ivar Forkbeard. ''It is a warship, not a raider. In any engagement, you would be at a disadvantage.''
''It has forty benches,'' said Ivar Forkbeard. Eighty oars, one hundred and sixty rowers.'' The benches on only side are counted. ''But her lines are heavy, and she is a
weighty ship.'' Marauders of Gor, page 71
Land of the Brave and the Strong. Beware lest you hear the call:
"The men of Torvaldsland are upon you!"
|This research is done on the series of books written by John Norman, the comments in italics are mine and my point of view.
Woman of Gor
All rights reserved.
|This image was unsigned, but quite beautiful, I am not the
artist behind it and thank whomever took the time to create it.
Only two of the Forkbeard’s men did not rest, he at the helm, bare-headed,
looking to sea, and the fellow at the height of the mast, on lookout. The
helmsman studies the sky and the waters ahead of the serpent; beneath
clouds there is commonly wind; and he avoids, moving a point or more to port
or starboard, areas where there is little wave activity, for they betoken spots
in which the serpent might, for a time, find itself becalmed. Marauders of Gor,
''Free the serpent!'' called the Forkbeard. ''Benches!'' The two anchor hooks,
fore and aft, were raised. They resemble heavy grappling hooks. Their
weight, apiece, is not great, being little more than twenty-five Gorean stone,
or about one hundred Earth pounds. They are attached to the ship not by
chain, but by tarred rope. Marauders of Gor, page 78
Passing Time on a Serpent
The men of Forkbeard, their oars inboard, the ship under sail, amused
themselves as they would. Some slept on the benches or between them,
some under the awning and some not, or on the exposed, elevated stem
dock. Here and there, some sat in twos and threes, talking. Two, like