Icelandic variations on familiar themes--the old ways vs. city life, saga trolls vs. modern explanations--as a near-twelve becomes aware of a wider world than his own. Gisli is content to gather eggs on the cliffs and farm without tractors but friend Hulda, who has been to Reykjavik, returns with souped-up stories about the city and disparagement for the rugged life of the Hornstrands. Gisli seems to live in the vivid Thor legends but his natural enterprise comes out when they are trapped in a cave by a landslide: he throws off the fear of danger while Hulda is a victim of her own storytelling. At the same time his mother's move to a city hospital--reluctantly agreed to--calls for him to follow although, like his grandfather, Gisli wants to stay; in the end he will join her and return to the Hornstrands every summer. Some amusing touches--like commercialization of old Viking mythological names for hotels-- but slow-moving and undistinctive except for the locale.