I did not like this book at all. The only reason I checked it out was it was recommended by the Library Journal . They had written a negative review of Betsy Tobin's "Ice Land", which I adored, and praised The Thrall's Tale, claiming it was better. Not! It was a huge disappointment and waste of time. Although the beginning was interesting, the rest was boring, dark and very depressing. I quit halfway through. Perhaps the author intended to portray a bleak time. If so, she certainly succeeded.
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.
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