Has this long winter got you feeling like you've moved to Iceland, minus the volcanoes? It has for me. Here in upstate NY we have small glaciers in our back yards, and the reindeer are being rounded up for our monthly trek to the store. Well, maybe not literally. But it is starting to feel like it.
As they say, when in Reykjavik, do as the . . . . oh, wait. That's Rome. But as long as you've come for Viking week, pull up a fur and a cup of grog, and warm yourself by the fire. I have a story to review that I think you are going to love!
God's Daughter by Heather Day Gilbert.
This is not your mama's bonnet and buggy romance. This is a story in which heroines wear axes and know how to use them, where wolves--not diamonds--are a girl's best friend, and when men were either there to protect or pillage you. A girl had to be on her toes in 1000 AD, a time and place where winter sticks around most of the year and exploration to uncharted lands brings clashes with natives, unknown illnesses, mutiny among a rowdy crew, and rebellion among the slaves you rely on for daily living. And all the while you juggle that, you are caring for a newborn, delivering your sister-in-law's baby, and serving as healer. Not to mention dodging the pagan practices of the day, as you hope and pray you can influence others for the Christian God.
Sound like a good read? It was all that and much more. . .
One Viking woman. One God. One legendary journey to North America.
In the tenth century, when pagan holy women rule the Viking lands, Gudrid turns her back on hertraining as a seeress to embrace Christianity. Clinging to her faith, she joins her husband, Finn, on a voyage to North America.
But even as Gudrid faces down murderous crewmen, raging sickness, and hostile natives, she realizes her greatest enemy is herself—and the secrets she hides might just tear her marriage apart.
Almost five centuries before Columbus, Viking women sailed to North America with their husbands.God’s Daughter, Book One in the Vikings of the New World Saga, offers an expansive yet intimate look into the world of Gudrid Thorbjarnardottir—daughter-in-law of Eirik the Red, and the firstdocumented European woman to have a child in North America.
I've read dozens of inspirational titles in the last five years, and have loved a few, and enjoyed many more. What I value about any book is a fresh, original voice, learning a new history or setting, and falling in love with the characters. This book had it all.
Gudrid is a heroine in the true sense of the word, and her admirable strength and compassion in the face of powerful adversity and danger impressed me. But what will stay with me for a long time is her bared soul. As handy as she is with her Icelandic seax weapon and her ability to stand up against barbaric Viking men, what made me love her was her bared soul. She is a wonderful contradiction of strength and vulnerability, of morality and human weakness, of pain and healing. It was a pleasure to see how each of her longings and conflicts were resolved.
The author, who was new to me, had a lovely, "invisible" voice, meaning her vivid story world emerged in all five senses, while her intrusion in the story faded to nonexistence. The conflicts, tastes, longings, and experiences of each character were palpable, and told in first person present point of view, which added to the immediacy of the dangers, challenges, and hopes which move the story forward.
Likewise, the story delivered a powerful journey back in time to a thrilling time in history. I enjoyed learning about Norse custom and beliefs, particularly at a time when Christianity's influence challenged practices such as human sacrifice, rape and pillaging. The setting felt convincing, and in every way enhanced the page-turning plot.
I am eager to see the next installment of this series, and consider my week reading this book time very well spent.
As thanks for coming to our hearty Viking longhouse party, I am giving away my gently loved print copy of God's Daughter to one lucky commenter. Leave your name and email addy and I will select a winner on Saturday, March 8.
Stay tuned as on Wednesday, I will post an interview with Heather Day Gilbert and she will be offering an ecopy of God's Daughter to another winner, also to be drawn on Saturday.
Heather Day Gilbert writes character-driven novels that go beyond the vows, capturing the triumphs and heartaches unique to married couples. A graduate of Bob Jones University, she’s been married to her sweet Yankee husband for over sixteen years. After ten years of homeschooling and six years of writing, she really doesn’t have many hobbies. Born and raised in the West Virginia mountains, she believes that bittersweet, generational stories are in her blood.