PEOPLE OF THE SONGTRAIL by W. Michael Gear

PEOPLE OF THE SONGTRAIL

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KIRKUS REVIEW

It’s the first millennium, and Viking ships sail to Helluland, Markland, Vinland, and Albania-Land in a never-ending quest of "landnám, the process of land taking...as the gods intended."

As the prolific Gears (People of the Morning Star, 2014, etc.) continue to chronicle settlement of the North American continent, captain Godi Gunnar and the crew of Thor’s Dragon leave behind a homeland embroiled in turmoil. There's unrest and rebellion following King Aethelred's massacre of Danish settlers in England’s "northern region known as the Danelaw." Now the king’s son, Edmund, is moving to seize the throne, and Norse King Cnut waits "for the civil war in England to weaken both sides." In Gunnar’s landnám expedition, there’s also the malignant seer, Thorlak the Lawspeaker, who searches for another Seidur seer, Vethild, the Darkness-Rider. Thorlak keeps Vethild’s daughter, Thyra, as a slave. Other than deft descriptions of ocean crossings and a murderous confrontation that destroys Whale Rib Village, conflict arises from the clash of seers, young Thyra’s testing her powers, and old Asson’s tossing lightning bolts for the aboriginal "People of the Songtrail." Interaction between Norse and natives is facilitated by Kiran, an Anchorite "devotee of the Monk’s Tester," who learned the language from "Skraeling thralls," natives taken to Europe as slaves. Kiran’s love for Thyra provides a minor romantic thread. Thorlak—with "the inhuman gaze of a lion...the Lawspeaker could siphon off a soul and send it wailing into the dark abyss"—and rough-hewn Gunnar, called Skoggangur, meaning "forest-walking," because he once was a thieving reject from civilized Icelandic society, are the most interesting characters, but there’s far more magick at play than immersion into a re-creation of Viking or pre-Columbian aboriginal life.

More historical fantasy than historical fiction.

Pub Date: May 26th, 2015
ISBN: 978-0-7653-3725-2
Page count: 336pp
Publisher: Tor
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 2015




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