It can be difficult for a woman to gain the esteem of knights and warriors not accustomed to seeing female hands on the reins of power. It helps little when, like Birna, widow of King Bran of Skellige, the woman seeking power is filled with acrid disdain for her countrymen and their customs. One might argue that disdain is a valid reaction when, in the case of the passing of a man of power who embodies tradition, those customs call on her to follow long since outdated ritual and cast herself on her husband's funeral pyre.
Justified or not, Birnas desire to rewrite age-old Skellige traditions put her at odds with the jarls and made it unlikely she would be remembered alongside Calanthe of Cintra or Meve of Lyria as a successful and revered ruler
Birna likewise refused to hide her disgust with the custom of choosing a ruler by vote of the jarls. She dreamed of establishing a hereditary kingship in Skellige and thought the ideal dynasty to hold it was her own, starting with her and Bran's son, the young Swanrige.
Birna fulfilled her dream of placing her son on the throne of Skellige, but her plans to control Swanrige's every action were foiled. The freshly-crowned king quickly made it clear he would rule on his own.