A story inspired by medieval Icelandic sagas tells the life of Gudrid, a Viking woman who lived 1,000 years ago and whose life Brown told for adults in The Far Traveler (2007).
The daughter of an Icelandic chieftain, Gudrid has been promised from birth to the son of Eirik the Red. Instead, she runs away with handsome Einar. When the couple’s ship wrecks on a rocky island, it is her slighted betrothed, Leif Eiriksson, homeward bound after a trading journey, who finds them. Gudrid, with the artful resourcefulness she displays throughout the book, convinces an unhappy Leif to both rescue them and accept their marriage. In the Viking world, it’s all about acquisition and alliance, and Gudrid, an intelligent, independent thinker, is no slouch in these departments. Over the course of the story, she marries three times—all men of her choosing—amasses a ship, a farm, and treasure of her own, and sails to Vinland (modern-day Newfoundland). Brown writes with admirable restraint; she doesn’t say Vikings didn’t know navigation using latitude and longitude, she simply doesn’t mention timepieces or compasses, instead offering their observations of wind and the habits of seabirds. Likewise, the unending chores of Gudrid’s daily life are delivered with an informational matter-of-factness that illuminates both the activity and the lifestyle.
Well-written, thoroughly researched and adventure-filled, this story of a determined and very human young woman is timeless. (author’s note) (Historical fiction. 12-18)