THE FOSTER BROTHERS by Edward Frankland


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In time, this follows close on the heels of Bengtsson's The Long Ships (see report P. 410), but here is a quite different side of the same coin. Again- a story of the northmen, Icelanders in this case, and of times when England, ruled in part by Ethelred, but torn by dissension,- Welsh against English, English against Scotsmen, colonies of Danes against English, and all against the marauders, the Vikings, the Danes who came to pilfer and demand tribute, to burn and rape the women. Gunnar and Arnvid, foster brothers, linked by something stronger than blood, come to England to seek their fortunes. Arnvid has kingly blood, but is insecure in his illegitimacy, in his envy of the sureness of Gunnar. Their adventures carry them together as far as York -- they part, Arnvid to go on to Wales, to Exeter, always getting into trouble, and being forced to flee. Almost he becomes a king- but not quite. With him is Astrid, rescued from a burning castle, whom he loves but who does not love him. Then when he and Gunnar are reunited, it is Astrid who stands between them, and the answer is found only in battle to the death. It is again a portrait of a crude and lusty era, of men whose ideas of loyalties and ethics are strange to us, of tests of strength and the lure of conquest and the saga of heroes, of Christianity thinly cloaking paganism. There is more unity of development here, but this- with The Long Ships supplies a telling portrait of a wandering people. The fact that the author in this case is English makes, perhaps, for easier reading.

Pub Date: Sept. 30th, 1954
Publisher: John Day