When I can’t travel the world, I pick up a book, and good fiction is a ticket to another world. Heather Day Gilbert’s series of Viking stories is guaranteed transportation to another time and place.
The first book, God’s Daughter, was mesmerizing. I had high hopes for the second one, Forest Child, and it didn’t disappoint. (Disclaimer: I received a free digital copy of the book from the author but my opinions are entirely my own.)
Gilbert’s Viking stories are some of my favorite stories to read.
In-depth, flawed characters telling the stories in their own voices set me right into the middle of the action and I cannot get out. I am captive to these tales.
In this one, Freydis, the illegitimate child of Erik the Red, sets out to prove her place in the family by plundering Vinland (northern North America). But the reality she faces in the New World is horrific and her own actions will haunt her all the way back to Greenland and the family farm.
Hers is a story that is at times heartbreaking and difficult to read, but her journey is a beautiful picture of redemption. I especially enjoyed the way married life is illustrated in this story (and the previous one). Gilbert has a talent for depicting the realities of marriage without demeaning the relationship. It is one of my favorite things about her stories.
Gilbert gives us a gift in retelling these little-known Viking sagas. More than simply entertaining, they lead us to truths about marriage, forgiveness, love, and community. The Viking era is not one I am overly familiar with beyond the famous names like Erik the Red and Leif Ericsson (both who play roles in these stories and whose names are spelled differently, reflecting their heritage) but Gilbert’s books make me want to read more about them and hop a plane to Iceland.
Book 2 lives up to the high standard set in book 1. Truly, these are remarkable stories.