Iceland-in the period before the western world had been dreamed of - provides the setting for a novel built around the powerful figure of a girl grown into woman- Hallgerda-who dominated and destroyed most of those who loved her:- her parents, her foster father, her husbands. Never a sympathetic figure, she nonetheless exerts an indescribable fascination,- her beauty, her vigor, her overweening ambition. She harked back in imagination to her ancestor, Queen Aud: she saw herself as another queen, despite the jibes of her brothers. She would have none of womanly virtues; if she couldn't be a man she would seek power otherwise. The book is almost obsessively concerned with the minutiae of a way of life. Granted a Kristin Lavransdatter as focus, it might do for ancient Iceland what Sigrid Undset's book did for Norway. But Hallgerda is fatalistic, utterly self-centered,- her foster father, illicit but- her one constant passion. It is a strange book, not readily put aside.