Greenland, 1012 AD. Anja Freydisdottir secretly has been resenting her mother and praising her father for his warmth and kindness. Not knowing that she’s been deceived by her conniving father, she, at the age of fifteen, is about to find out how deceitful he is when he sells her for the highest dowry—which he will be pocketing according to the agreement reached before Anja was born. In exchange, her mother gains freedom from her father.
Anja has been hearing whispers about her mother’s adventures in Vinland, and supposedly her brutality. The side Anja picks is very clear. But she is headstrong like her mother, and with her mother’s push she defies the expectations of her society when opportunity strikes.
Anja’s journey takes her to Vinland, with quite a different turn. In Greenland, she witnesses some brutality towards women from the hands of men. Her encounters are first with bears and wolves. The wilderness tests her strength, exposing the dangerous and unpredictable situations. Her survival now depends on the skills she has learned from her mother.
The first part of the story reflects the harsh societal norms of the time, and those were especially brutal for women, who had no saying in any decision making. In the second part, Anja’s bravery and actions reflect the attributes of the Viking warriors, while she is not fighting other men, her fight is tested in the wilderness. In the last part, she experiences something new; a different side of men’s behavior towards women and different rituals of Beothuk tribe, where a woman is honored. She slips into this new place very naturally and feels accepted.
Anja doesn’t seem to be as strong as her mother Freydis, but it doesn’t mean that she is not strong. She has her struggles with coming to terms with deceits she was fed as a child. After a traumatizing experience with a bear, she struggles to find her spirit. But she is human, and continues to make sense of all that has happened to her.
The writing is beautiful and reflects the time period of ruthlessness and the place of harsh climate. The brutality of the time period may not be easy to read for some. This Vinland Viking saga comes alive with a fascinating character that engages readers with her perilous journey.
P.S. This book 2 can stand-alone; however, I highly recommend reading also book 1.