“The Trail of the Viking Finger” by John Bean

Colin Liddell


The Trail of the Viking Finger by John Bean

I was amazed when John Bean, the veteran British nationalist, came out with an excellent novel a couple of years ago at the grand old age of 87. This even put Grandma Moses in the shade for late starts, and was a sign of hope to all those of us who continually defer our dreams. I was even more amazed that the novel, “Blood in the Square,” based on Bean’s own experiences in British nationalism in the 1960s, read so well.

Rather than a novice, Bean was clearly an accomplished fiction writer and had little to learn. I remember entertaining the hope that there would be a few follow ups — and now, at an even grander age, there is! But rather than retread the familiar subject matter from the first novel — the multifaceted world of British nationalism — Bean has had a rush of ambition and attempted something not only radically new but also sweeping in its scope.

This is the historical novel, The Trail of the Viking Finger, which stands as a testament to the indigenous British people and stretches across ten centuries, from the immediate aftermath of the battles of Stamford Bridge and Hastings in 1066, and the dawning of the Norman epoch, to the early twentieth century, where the novel seems to end a little abruptly.

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Tying it all together is the genetic trail of the Byrne family, made manifest by the medical condition specified in the title — the Viking finger. This is more scientifically known as Dupuytren’s contracture, a form of palmar fibromatosis, in which the fingers bend in increasingly towards the palm and can no longer be extended. The fact that this is a condition that the author himself suffers from, makes it clear that the novel is partly a fictitious reimagining and invocation of his own lineage and identity. As Bean writes in the Preface:

I was inspired to write this historical novel as a result of preparing my own family tree, which I managed to trace back to a Brian Beane born at Saxton in Elmet — near York — around 1570. Nearly all locations, many Christian or forenames and occupations that are given in this novel are those of my family over the generations.

As some readers may realize, this choice of format was heavily influenced by the multi-generational novels of Edward Rutherford, whose first novel Sarum (1987),  I remember reading with interest many years ago. But while typical paperback editions of Sarum have upwards of 1300 pages, Bean’s saga is limited to a relatively short 228 pages. This means he takes a narrower focus. Rather than interweaving the destinies of several families, as Rutherford does, Bean focuses more sharply on his chosen line, the Byrnes, descended from a Danish Viking, Bjorn the Red, reluctantly stranded in England following the chaotic events of 1066.

But even with just one lineage to concentrate on, 228 pages is still rather scanty, meaning that Bean is sometimes forced to rush things and leave chronological gaps for us to fill in with a few clues. The novel therefore breaks into the stories of several disparate individuals, loosely tied together by certain occasionally recurring genetic traits and characteristics — the Viking finger, red or reddish hair, and a “berserker” tendency towards violence (a legacy of his Indo-European ancestors) that by turns is both useful and harmful in different generations.

Most of history, as Charlie Watts, the drummer of the Rolling Stones famously observed of rock ‘n’ roll, is mainly just hanging around. So it is that much of what Bean describes is the slow and steady work to gradually improve one’s situation — and that of one’s family — by hard labour, diligent businesses, marrying correctly, or improving farmland and other assets. This is then punctuated by more dramatic and dangerous episodes that reward some of the higher qualities in us.

For me, and I suspect for most readers, these are the parts that stand out. They may also get you thinking about the struggles, challenges, tragedies, and triumphs that your own ancestors may have faced. The story starts with plenty of suspense and danger. In Chapter 2, which presents the tale of the family’s founder, Bjorne the Red, there is even an encounter with a group of mounted Normans. This doesn’t end well for either party, but especially the Normans:

Because of the need to hide their weapons the six Danes had no spears or shields. They did have swords, shorter than normal but just as sharp, as well as knives and axes. They had just reached the middle of the sodden field when they saw four mounted Normans come round the curve of the track. They each had lances and shields, which they raised in attack mode on seeing the Vikings. Bjorne stopped dead in his tracks and still without moving he stared at the on-coming horsemen muttering to himself and reddening in the face and neck. The Normans were about to meet a Viking Berserker.  (25–26)

This chapter also contains a lot of interesting information about early medieval York, where the surviving Danes finally resign themselves to settling in Britain, instead of trying to return home.

In Chapter Four Bean includes an account of Edward Longshank’s invasion of Scotland, with an account of the attack on the Scottish city of Berwick, in which the embodiment of the Byrne line, Walter Byrne, reluctantly participates. With a sweetheart waiting for him at home, he tries to hang back, but gets caught up in events. Luckily, his latent berserker qualities kick in and help him to survive:

Two Yorkshire men who had trained with him were on each side of him as they got over the wall. Both were speared with pikes through the chest and fell to the ground vomiting blood with their last breath. More men came over the wall and took their place. Walter felt a violent rage possess him and he imagined that he was not really in the midst of the action but hovering above it. Putting his full strength behind his action he swung his sword at the neck of the first pikeman and took his head off. (53)

Ending up wounded, he is forced to make his way home, so we see no more of what turned out to be a brutal and epic struggle between Scotland and England. I got the impression here that Bean turned his literary back on the opportunities for dramatic events this war presented due to an underlying distaste for such intense conflicts among the indigenous peoples of Britain, possibly informed by the present-day realization that collectively we are under threat as never before.

An earlier part of this chapter also briefly mentions another group that has intermittently played an important role in Britain’s story, namely the Jews.

York is of course the site of the most well-known massacre of the Jews in Britain, which occurred in 1190, when about 150 Jews died through violence or self harm. Bean treats the matter sympathetically, echoing the regret he expresses in his other books — his autobiography Many Shades of Black and previous novel Blood in the Square — for the conflicts between Jews and Gentiles and their wider consequences and repercussions:

Partly because of what appeared to be the strangeness of Jewish ways and partly because of some cases of clipping silver coins in money advanced in loans, the mob rose up and 150 Jews took refuge in the Royal castle, as they were officially supposed to be protected by the king. Reginald Ragner was one of the few citizens who protested at this persecution, but few other businesses followed his example as it could mean permanent damage to their own trade. Most of the local gentry did nothing because they had borrowed heavily from the Jews. (p. 43)

Another part of the novel that stood out for me was the tale of Richard Byrne, a cavalier cavalryman in the army of King Charles I in the struggle against the parliamentary forces. This, of course, was the period just before the Jews were let back into England, but there was already enough diversity and disagreement as revealed by religious and cultural differences between Englishmen, differences that often split families apart and which fuelled the complex political and military conflict of the Civil War.

Such divisions have some of the flavour of our own day. Every British or White nationalist is keenly aware of how divergent their opinions can be from those of near relatives, and the problems this can create. In the case of Richard Byrne, his wife has become enamoured of Puritanism while he has been absent campaigning for King Charles. Finally she deserts him and emigrates to America.

Richard is left on the “wrong side of history” by the defeat of the Royalist cause. Much of the rest of this chapter deals with how he picks himself up and rebuilds his life. Again the message is to endure, organize, work hard, and wait for a change of luck, which partly comes in the guise of an affectionate “wench.”

A key break in the story occurs in 1784, when the latest Byrnes — William and Matilda, brother and sister — leave their native Yorkshire, and relocate to the new industrial metropolis of Newcastle, further north. Walking all the way, danger looms in the various inns and deserted roadways; and Matilda is forced to disguise herself as a boy. But when the crisis comes, she is more than equal to it:

Then some light appeared on the scene as two of the men from below came up the ladder. When they surveyed the scene they burst out laughing. Matilda had bit halfway through the nose of her would-be rapist and was sitting on his chest and punching him. He had no breeches on, nor drawers. The horseman with the lamp held it over him saying, ‘He couldn’t do much with that little winkle, my dear! Perhaps you’ve killed his ardour.  (p. 128)

Reaching Newcastle, the young siblings enter a world where new industries, technologies, and opportunities open up for their talents. It is from this point onwards that real social mobility sets in, with subsequent generations using their carefully honed wits and survival instincts to take advantage of new business opportunities.

Overall, some parts of the book feel a little rushed, but it is nevertheless a fascinating meditation on what it means to be British. The meta-point Bean makes throughout is that we are very much the direct result of our history, landscape, and interaction with each other, something that definitely cannot be said for the incomers brought into Britain by multiculturalism and globalism with no roots in Britain. But history never stops. The implicit question then, is will the Viking finger and the fighting spirit it betokens prevail. I for one believe it will.

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24 Comments to "“The Trail of the Viking Finger” by John Bean"

  1. B.A's Gravatar B.A
    September 20, 2016 - 2:12 am | Permalink

    It is welcome that more nationalist writers are entering into fiction and other things as part of telling a story and imbibing some sense of self identity in those who may end up reading it.

    We are saturated with messages from writers of novels who do not share our positions, or who do not imply anything of note regarding such things.

    On this basis alone I feel I must congratulate John Bean for creating these works, especially at such an age.

    • John Bean's Gravatar John Bean
      September 25, 2016 - 4:11 am | Permalink

      I was pleased that B.A. gives support to the important role that nationalist writers can achieve by entering into fiction. Stories founded on the history of the White Race are one of the best outlets for doing this, particularly as most other authors prefer to play save and turn our history into support for multiculturalism.

  2. September 19, 2016 - 7:22 pm | Permalink

    Was thinking. Same fashion as Blacks have reclaimed the word nigga, Whites must do for the word nazi. Surpass our detractors on the right, as they say in Italy with reference to traffic rules. Initially could refer rap style to White guilt, and become a cool word. Indeed the rehabilitation of that word is essential. Can start with White kids calling each other half-offensively nazi. Can go from there.

    • September 21, 2016 - 7:36 pm | Permalink

      @Ger Tzedek

      1. The word whites need to reclaim is not “nazi” – it’s “racist.” “Racist” is “the R Word” and only other Whites should be allowed to call each other “racist.”

      As in, “what’s up my racist” etc.

      In fact, RamZPaul has already done some hilarious videos in this vein and I’ve blogged about it numerous times. Bob Whitaker and the BUGsters have come a long way defanging the anti-white hate slur “racist.” (Talking about Nazis is a distraction and since most pro-white people have nothing to do with Nazis, Hitler, the NSDAP, so it would be counter-productive.)

      2. Interesting handle, “Ger Tzedek” is Hebrew for “righteous convert to Judaism.”


      • Franklin Ryckaert's Gravatar Franklin Ryckaert
        September 22, 2016 - 11:44 pm | Permalink

        In this case goy tzedek (“righteous non-Jew”) would be more appropriate.

  3. Halford Mackinder's Gravatar Halford Mackinder
    September 19, 2016 - 12:10 pm | Permalink

    This review aside, I think Collin has been harmful to the morale and integrity of the Alt Right. I won’t attack him, but I also do not support him because he refuses to honor the Alt Right’s unspoken #1 rule of not publicly punching Right. If he ever learns to do that, I might consider changing my mind. Until then, I believe he has a net-negative impact on the movement.

    • Nick Dean's Gravatar Nick Dean
      September 19, 2016 - 3:18 pm | Permalink

      You may have confused his rhetoric for your own, there, HM.

      He punches at those more forthrightly and unapologetically WHITE than he, not RIGHT.

      He launches no never-ending wars upon the philosophical schools more traditional or hierarchical than his own.

      Only against those more rigorously pro-White, anti-semitic and White Nationalist.

      But that is in fact the Alt-Right’s reason for being, separate from White Nationalism, no?

    • Colin Liddell's Gravatar Colin Liddell
      September 19, 2016 - 4:07 pm | Permalink

      You are wll off topic, but what I think you want to say is that I think Daily Stormer-style GTKRWNism should not be the face of a respectable and morally consistent White Nationalist movement that aims to grow by appealing to normal people and people in higher social positions, rather than just NEETs who spend too much time anonymously trolling the internet. From this I think it will be self-evident who is harming the movement and limiting its growth to a few, dank, impotent, online enclaves.

      • Pierre de Craon's Gravatar Pierre de Craon
        September 20, 2016 - 9:38 am | Permalink

        I got a kick out of your reply just above, Mr. Liddell; thank you for it and for the article/review, too. But could you humor an old and largely out-of-touch gent by telling him what GTKRWNism and NEETs are? If you’d rather not use the expanded forms in this forum, could you provide links to places that do?

        In return, if you don’t already know its meaning, I’ll tell you what LSMFT stands for.

        • Colin Liddell's Gravatar Colin Liddell
          September 21, 2016 - 1:36 am | Permalink

          Pierre, these terms are pretty easy to google, as is the more obscure LSMFT, as I found out.

      • Nick Dean's Gravatar Nick Dean
        September 20, 2016 - 11:37 am | Permalink

        If Anglin were not sufficiently pro-White, he’d be deserving of criticism in a pro-White forum. That’s what this is supposed to be, not a forum for grumpy old men.

        I think we all would like to see a respectable and morally consistent White Nationalist movement that as such would not include:

        Jews hostile to WN but supportive of Zionism (Paul Gottfried, Lawrence Auster, Michael Levin, Michael Hart, Byron Roth, Nicholas Stix, Robert Weissberg, etc.);

        cucked Whites who find acceptable those with such an anti-White double standard, and by definition are not WN (you, Spencer, Taylor, Brimelow, Faye, Griffin, Ramsey, etc.);

        Whites married to non-Whites who also by definition are not WN (Derbyshire, Brand, Reed, Wall, etc.);

        a bunch of other non-WN and non-W (Donovan, Preston, ADB, Millennial Woes, Forney, Morgan, Nowicki, Roosh, Tequila, etc.).


        Your alt-right WN is not White Nationalist, and in that respect is far more harmful than Anglin’s rival brand. He seems much more popular and influential, too.

      • Macka's Gravatar Macka
        September 20, 2016 - 7:34 pm | Permalink

        That’s the thing Liddell, you want to be “respectable”, despite the fact it’s been a failing strategy for years.

      • Halford Mackinder's Gravatar Halford Mackinder
        September 21, 2016 - 5:00 am | Permalink

        With respect, you’re out of touch with what is going on with the Alt Right, Collin, which is a wholly American movement. The fact that you think the troll armies are limited to online activities proves that you’re out of touch. Not only am I happy stormer troll (though you’ll be disappointed to learn that I have no tattoos, work an office job and wear button down shirts/slacks everywhere), I also attend at least one IRL event a week, and several per week lately, with my local group. The strawman you try to saddle Daily Stormer and its supporters with doesn’t really exist in reality. To the extent these types do exist, they are anti-Alt Right, some militantly so. That you don’t know this again shows that you’re out of touch with the American dissident right scene. And the worst part of it is, my friend, that to American Alt Rightists, your strawmen are transparent. Your arguments may seem plausible from…wherever you are… but in America they evoke little more than confused shrugging at best and the reaction is usually worse: anger that someone would think we were that stupid. So, while I think your heart is in the right place, you’re out of touch and not in any position whatsoever to comment on the state of the Alt Right, which again, is purely American. The European ideas that so heavily inform your politics have no currency here.

        • Colin Liddell's Gravatar Colin Liddell
          September 24, 2016 - 4:35 pm | Permalink

          Whatever trite regionalist nuance you are attempting to invoke, I think you are drastically underestimating the harm that an explicit and repetitive association between WN and “gas the k***s”/ death camp rhetoric may have on our cause. Even if the Stormer had some utility in moving the Overton window, as is often claimed but never proved, this supposed utility is best served by keeping it at a healthy distance from respectable WN sites like the Occidental Observer, Radix, Counter-Currents, and Alternative Right.

  4. Bramble's Gravatar Bramble
    September 19, 2016 - 10:44 am | Permalink

    “The strangeness of Jewish ways”? For a more honest discussion of the reasons for the York massacre, please see “The History of Jewish Human Sacrifice” by William Martin. Another feature of these ritual murders of Christians is that the body of the victim must not be buried, but must be treated with disrespect, disposed of like an animal carcass above ground. That is why the victims’ bodies, completely drained of blood, were found tossed into ditches, wells, rubbish dumps, covered with leaves in woodland, or dumped into cess pits. This apparently still happens today, as in the Syrian Christian girl found with a large cross speared like a sword into her mouth, impaling her to the bed to which she had been strapped, like the Jewish Bolsheviks often impaled Polish Christian army officers, spread-eagled and mutilated, to trees.

    • Halford Mackinder's Gravatar Halford Mackinder
      September 20, 2016 - 5:13 am | Permalink

      Not only that, Ariel Toaff, the son of Italy’s chief rabbi wrote a detailed study on the subject translated roughly as “Blood Passover”. Look up the history of that book. http://www.israelshamir.net/BLOODPASSOVER.pdf

    • Mike's Gravatar Mike
      September 20, 2016 - 7:55 am | Permalink

      Snopes says the Christian girl raped and murdered is a lie. See http://www.snopes.com/photos/politics/syriamurder.asp – there are expert liars out there. We need the truth as our weapon.

      • Pierre de Craon's Gravatar Pierre de Craon
        September 20, 2016 - 8:25 am | Permalink

        Mike’s underlying point is very sound, and the TOO threads would be much, much better places if more people checked facts and claims before they typed. Yet it needs to be recalled that the Snopes site’s integrity and reliability aren’t far enough above (((Wikipedia’s))) to give its declarations automatic and unqualified assent.

        With regard to the claim in question, the evidence provided seems to point in the direction of falsification, but it’s not unreasonable for one to argue that further verification of its truth or falsity ought to be forthcoming before a final verdict is rendered.

      • john7's Gravatar john7
        September 20, 2016 - 3:39 pm | Permalink

        Anyone that believes snopes is beyond help quite frankly. Snopes is purely a propaganda tool.

      • Bramble's Gravatar Bramble
        September 23, 2016 - 2:04 pm | Permalink

        You know, I’ve heard that a standard distraction technique is to focus on one single case, such as the photo of the Syrian Christian girl, in an attempt to discredit it, thus drawing attention away from the horrific persecution of Christians by Muslims worldwide, and the plentiful historical evidence for the sadistic ritual Jewish murders of children.

    • Lucy's Gravatar Lucy
      September 21, 2016 - 2:04 am | Permalink

      Unfortunately, the (Polish?) mass media, the Catholic Curch and most “secular” scholars in Poland never hint anything about the true ethnicity of those beasts, as blaming the Russians promotes the big agenda of turning our planet into an empire of Satanic goodness.

      • Bramble's Gravatar Bramble
        September 23, 2016 - 1:57 pm | Permalink

        You are absolutely right—somebody else always gets the blame for what “The Tribe” does, just as the book “Hellstorm” exposed the sadistic murders and gang-rapes of German & Eastern European women in PEACETIME after WWII, which was blamed on the Russians, but actually committed by Mongols & Tartars in Russian uniform, recruited & supervised in their sadistic torture by Jewish Bolshevik officers.

      • September 24, 2016 - 6:29 pm | Permalink

        The Catholic Church’s origin is a Jewish fraud just as much as e.g. the Holohoax, the 9/11 hoax, lies about Hitler, and the ‘Federal Reserve’. They had some opportunity to rise above their origins, but never managed to.

        • Pierre de Craon's Gravatar Pierre de Craon
          September 25, 2016 - 4:27 pm | Permalink

          False. Nor will your seemingly tireless repetition of this baseless claim ever make it true.

Comments are closed.