October 09, 2011

The Thrall's Tale by Judith Lindbergh

The cover is what appealed to me most about this book. It looked exciting, with three foreign looking women upon a viking ship. Finally, a story of the Norse women in a genre that is mostly taken up my male characters. The book is definitely interesting, I'll give it that.

The Thrall's Tale surrounds three women of different standing in early Greenland. There is Katla, favored thrall (slave) of her house who is beautiful and brave. She goes from favor, to after a brutal rape and beating, a scarred women who is sold to the seeress and pregnant with a child she does not want. Thorbjorg is a seeress with respect from all, who is in want of an apprentice. And finally Bibrau, child of Katla and her rapist who is both troubled and powerful, and well suited to fill the role of Thorbjorg's apprentice. These women will eke out a living in the Greenland wilderness and endure through a time where old Norse ways are being lost and Christianity is slowly taking over. But Bibrau is also an unknown menace, who doesn't wish well for anyone.

Thorbjorg is probably my favorite character as her mind never wavers and she seems the most true to herself. She is a bit of an easy mistress though and allows Bibrau to get away with more than she should. Katla, while she started as an exciting character, gets so broken down and weak that its almost painful to read about her through the rest of the book. She becomes almost simpering and dull. Bibrau made a very good bad guy. She was definitely brutal in a sneaky way. There were a lot of side characters, but none of them were particularly standout except for Thorhall. He had the loudest voice of the bunch anyway.

The plot was somewhat confusing at times. I confess I don't know much about Norse mythology or history and I think a background in these subjects would have made the book a much more enjoyable read for me. Without that knowledge though I felt lost part of the time. The book was also slow and plodding as well, towards the end I was hoping it would just end as it didn't seem like it was going anywhere. The writing, while pretty, also tended to be tedious and overly flowery. While they could have spoken that way at that time, I just don't see it being as poetic as it is in the book.

Not the best book, but probably interesting for those who read on Norse Mythology and history. It offers an interesting perspective on characters who lived then, although the truth of their lives will probably always be shrouded in more mystery.

The Thrall's Tale
Copyright 2006
450 pages

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