A strangely fascinating story of 10th/11th century Norse settlements in Greenland. Based partly on old Viking stories of Eirik the Red and Leif Eirikson, it follows three women's lives and the conflict of the old Norse religion with the newly arrived Christianity.
I am surprised this one is still on my shelf. It was one of the most original stories I had read in years. The main character begins life as a Thrall which is a slave, she learns healing and becomes a kind of witch. Her fortunes continue in this up and down manner, exalted to despised and sometimes loved. It is the story of the Viking Culture, of commerce, politics religion and the politics of religion. There is certainly romance and there is great loyalty. I hope some one orders it so this great work does not sit unappreciated on my shelf.
Throughout this book, I got the sense that the author Judith Lindberg put a great amount of research into the time and place.
I really wanted to like this novel. However, there was no real joy or poignant turning points in character or plot. There was no one character I found myself cheering for. Katla is damaged but then goes on to hate and damage psychologically her own daughter. Thorbjorg notes the growing malevolency in Bibrau and tries to wrench it out of her with utter strictness, which included locking her in a cold dank shed naked for 3 days. Eventually, after knowing little kindness over a lifetime, Bibrau puts her hand to a series of evil deeds. While I found this novel interesting, it did not strike a cord as other anti-heroic novels had (Wuthering Heights, Brave New World).
The narrator Virginia Leishman really put herself into this book in emotional expression. She also pronounced character and place names with accuracy. The story is told in first person, switching between the three women. I sometimes had trouble distinguishing by voice alone which character was talking.
I didn't know what to expect and this is not my favorite period in history, but I was hooked after the first few pages. It is well written and telling the story from the main characters' different viewpoints is terrific. The characters are well developed and interesting. I REALLY liked this book.
Set in 895 A.D. in Greenland, each chapter in the 450-page novel is written from the viewpoints of each of three protagonists, Katla, Thorbjorg and Bibrau.
Katla, a beautiful slave, or thrall, is raped. The tenderhearted seeress, Thorbjorg, cares for Katla during her pregnancy and also cares for and raises Katla's daughter, Bibrau. Bibrau is born mute, and is hated by her mother and soon becomes to be seen by others as either an evil curse or a changeling. She quickly learns to twist the Norse wisdom and mysticism Thorbjorg teaches her to cause tragedy for all around.
The novel also covers the introduction of Christianity to a pagan shores
This was written in a style of faux-arcane language that made it almost unreadable. If you could get past that, it was compelling. But the author couldnn't get out of her own way with language. I recommend it for the patient reader who loves Norse myths, as it lets you in oo what the lives of the Norsemen were perhaps like.