THE LAND SEEKERS by Alan Boucher


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The seekers are the Norse leader Aud and her people, the land they abandon battle-spent Scotland for is Iceland, already settled by Aud's two brothers, in a chronicle of the 9th century North that is close to circumstance if only peripherally fiction. Aud's kinsmen have been vikings (raiders), some are still; she is a Christian, some of her housefolk are worshipers of Thor and Odin; her husband made himself a king in Britain and there is a king in Norway, but each chieftain is king on his own land in Iceland. All this is implicit; more immediate to twelve-year-old Jarp, friend of Aud's grandson Olaf, is the thrall-ring around his wrist and his emnity toward overweening Bersi Hardarson. He would take the freedom proffered in Scotland, then leave the Foam-Farer in Faeroe, but his mother, Muirgael, is bound to Aud by a loyalty stronger than her ring (""freedom is to choose that which cannot be avoided""). When at last a new holding is found in Iceland, where bound and free build and herd and plant together, when Olaf is married and Aud knows she is about to die, Jarp and Muirgael get a property of their own and Jarp can settle his quarrel with Bersi as an equal. The excitement of hand-to-hand fighting with Danish vikings, of hanging over the Faeroe cliffs collecting eggs, of seizing whales in the bay, punctuates a deliberate but never tedious account of a life secured by tradition and faith, whatever its source.

Pub Date: Sept. 16th, 1968
Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux