TWO RAVENS by Cecelia Holland

TWO RAVENS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Holland's latest is a 12th-century Icelandic tale of drear and dread which fairly shivers with atmospheric hoarfrost. The family of Walking Hoskuld (""so tall no horse could carry him"") is as surly and shifty as the old man, except eldest son Bjarni, who's eager to leave Iceland bemuse of his guilty passion for his young stepmother. After a duet of slaps and threats, Hoskuld consents to his sons' shipping out in the hopes that a neighboring chieftain will slay Bjarni And, indeed, Bjarni is taken prisoner as the rest head for home, but he escapes and finally lands in England where King William Rufus, fascinated by the exotic visitor, outfits him. Accompanied by Gufi, an adoring chit, Bjarni returns to Iceland to find his father dead and his brother Ulf in the High Seat. After two murders, interminable ambushes, and snarling from the family pack, Bjarni unseats Ulf--to rule and inevitably die. There is an underlying surge of Christian and pagan allegiances, and, except for an unfortunate lapse or two (Gufi to Bjarni: ""Silly old Bear!""), it's a respectable popular arrangement of longboats and short fuses.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1977
Publisher: Knopf