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Katla, whose mother was a Christian Irishwoman kidnapped in a Viking raid, has grown up a thrall (slave) in Viking Iceland. When her master Einar decides to follow Erik the Red to establish a Norse settlement on Greenland, Katla is taken along. Unfortunately, she finds herself on the receiving end of unwanted attention from Einar’s son Torvard, who savagely rapes her. An old seeress, Thorbjorg, accepts Katla into her own home instead, but Katla is pregnant and her tale of anguish is only beginning.
This book was awful, one of the few books I’ve been tempted to abandon unfinished. The narration alternates between Katla, her daughter Bibrau, and their new mistress Thorbjorg. This style does not work here, and their pretentious, rambling, internal monologues are exceedingly tiresome. I got the distinct impression that the author performed meticulous research in preparation, but then made sure she inserted every single thing she learned somewhere into the book. This makes for some awkward passages that feel more like a lecture in Norse Mythology. This is a fascinating time in world history, but it could be done so much better.
posted Apr 4, 2008 at 10:52AM
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Mother was enslaved in a Viking raid; emigrates with her master; her Christianity sets her apart from the Pagan Norse; raped by her master's son; gives birth to a daughter; misses her lover Ossur; longs to practice her Christian faith.
Katla's master's eldest son; violently rapes Katla.
Buys Katla and nurses her back to health; teaches Bibrau Norse wisdom.
Katla's daughter; despised by her mother; becomes obsessed with revenge; turns Thorbjorg's wisdom against her.