Greenland, 996 AD. Freydis marries an abusive Norseman named Thorvard. Shortly after, her brother Leif leaves Greenland’s shores to sail across the northern seas. During his absence, and after the death of their father, the land of Greenland is ruled by Thorvard. But the successful voyage of Leif makes him reclaim the title of his father, which only upsets Thorvard. And as much as the siblings share a deep bond, it doesn’t go deep enough when Freydis wants to divorce her abusive husband and seeks support of her brother. It wouldn’t help Leif in his ambitious plan.
But then a couple from Iceland confirms that divorce would ruin her financially. They need a sponsor to help them out on their expedition to Vinland. They have ships, but they need a wealthy patron that could travel with them. Taking a Viking expedition would keep her safe from her husband’s fists. But can she trust Icelanders?
The heroine is a strong woman, a fighter, and a true Viking. You can sense that the abuse of her husband steals the light out of her. She no longer laughs or takes pleasure in life’s simple moments. But her willpower continues to be strong. She doesn’t want to spin the wool and mend cloth, instead she yearns to hunt, to use her knife and peel back the fur and debone the meat, but a woman hunter is not a welcomed addition. Her tongue-lashing gets her into a group of hunters, but her skill which might be above some men’s approval makes her a bigger target and the men blame her as difficult. Her headstrong behavior and stubbornness sometimes cloud her judgement, not helping her reputation.
The plotting of a course to freedom involves outmaneuvering Thorvard, so he doesn’t seek revenge, which builds the suspense.
The atmosphere depicting the time period of ruthlessness and the place of harsh climate are very authentic. The survival during the dangerous iceberg passage, when the journey takes scary turns is very vivid. On land, you can sense the harsh climate and when the winter comes filled with blizzards blinding your path, you know that one misstep may send you on a dangerous path. A wrong move, can push you down the snowy slope where there are no bushes to break the fall and no rocks sticking out to stop sliding over the precipice, and a sharp fall might be deadly.
Freydis is a very memorable character, despite the brutality of her husband and the harsh climate; I wasn’t ready to part with her. The beautiful prose and engaging storytelling made me engrossed in Freydis’ journey thoroughly.