Ice Land: A Novel [NOOK Book]

Overview

A beautiful epic of love, longing, redemption, and enchantment in the tradition of Marion Zimmer Bradley's The Mists of Avalon

Iceland, AD 1000
Freya knows that her people are doomed. Warned by the Fates of an impending disaster, she must embark on a journey to find a magnificent gold necklace, one said to possess the power to alter the course of history. But even as Freya travels deep into the mountains of ...
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Ice Land: A Novel

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Overview

A beautiful epic of love, longing, redemption, and enchantment in the tradition of Marion Zimmer Bradley's The Mists of Avalon

Iceland, AD 1000
Freya knows that her people are doomed. Warned by the Fates of an impending disaster, she must embark on a journey to find a magnificent gold necklace, one said to possess the power to alter the course of history. But even as Freya travels deep into the mountains of Iceland, the country is on the brink of war. The new world order of Christianity is threatening the old ways of Iceland's people, and tangled amidst it all are two star-crossed lovers who destiny draws them together?even as their families are determined to tear them apart

Infused with the rich history and mythology of Iceland, Betsy Tobin's sweeping novel is an epic adventure of forbidden love, lust, jealousy, faith and magical wonder set under the shadow of a smoldering volcano.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Tobin's second novel (after Bone House) is set in Iceland, A.D. 1000, just as Christianity is taking a foothold and the volcano Hekla is growing restive. In this slick re-imagining of Norse myth, humans, dwarves, giants and gods differ superficially but suffer life's trials equally and are susceptible to love, loss, violence and even the weather. The central character, Freya, is an Aesir (a god), who is essentially human but for her ability to fly and her address: she notes that her kind "occupy the space that men create for something larger than themselves." (In Freya's case, she occupies "the tainted realm of love.") Among numerous subplots, Freya's story follows her quest for a powerful gold necklace, the Brisingamen, accompanied by a love-torn human teenager named Fulla. Tobin's rich understanding of the source material, backed up by deft historical touches-beds made of moss and skins, turf-roofed houses, earthenware cups-brings the narrative to life. Though women take center stage, Tobin sketches the thoughts of both male and female characters with skill. With an introspective dwarf, the god Odin and a fearsome band of giants, Tobin has this one aimed squarely at the Mists of Avalon audience, and she hits big. (Aug.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Kirkus Reviews
Tobin (Bone House, 2001) combines Norse mythology, the coming of Christianity and a forbidden love story in a lyrical but overstuffed tribute to Icelandic history. The author juggles multiple narrative strands, sometimes confusingly or predictably. Freya, Norse goddess of love, falls under the spell of a miraculous, "too precious" golden necklace fashioned by the Brising dwarves (shades of Tolkien). Meanwhile, 16-year-old Fulla, an orphan whose father died in a feud, is approaching marriageable age but has secretly fallen for Vili, the son of her father's killer. While the ancient witnesses, the Norns, keep watch on Iceland's volcanic lands, Freya's negotiations for the necklace oblige her to accompany Dvalin, the most attractive of the dwarves, on a journey to find a remedy for his sister's infertility, which leads to further adventures and magic. Freya gains the necklace for a while, until it is stolen by Odin, king of the gods. He uses it to force Freya to kidnap Fulla, who has been fending off betrothals to men she doesn't love and who is really Odin's daughter. While Fulla is with Freya, Vili is accepted by her family and rejects his own, allowing Vili and Fulla finally to unite. A vast volcanic eruption lays waste the land, but Freya regains the necklace and saves Dvalin. The couple will become human and have children. And Christianity sweeps into Iceland. Large themes translated into a choppy, conventional, romantic but readable tangle of stories. Agent: Kim Witherspoon/InkWell Management
From the Publisher
"Magic....[this] flight through the seamy side of Scandinavian myth is not as cold as the title might suggest. It's a story of sex, love, blood, and the twilight of the gods, punctuated with hot pools, boiling magma, and volcanic explosions. Very steamy!"
-Diana Gabaldon, author of the Outlander novels

"A rich, complex, and compelling tale of myth, magic and very human passion. Tobin weaves together legend and history into an epic saga, layering the grandeur of a semi-mythic Iceland with the familiar landscape of the human heart."
-Lauren Willig, author of The Secret History of the Pink Carnation

"Ice Land had me with its first sentence. I loved the book's journey into long- ago time and the myths of epic, ancient gods. Tobin is a skillful and talented writer."
-Karleen Koen, author of Dark Angels

"A very engrossing read. Told in Betsy Tobin's lyrical voice and set against a backdrop of mythical and natural grandeur, Ice Land is a tale both sensual and violent."
-Kristen Britain, author of the Green Rider series

"[Tobin] hits big... [Her] rich understanding of the source material, backed up by deft historical touches...brings the narrative to life."
-Publisher's Weekly

"One does not often meet a heroine with the power of flight, but Betsy Tobin's characters are hardly ordinary people. . . Not just a good story, but one of the greatest."
-The Times (UK)

"Tobin captures this world in all its complexity. . . Here is a world where magic and mystery rise from the currents of nature and not in defiance of it. The land itself, and the sea and sky surrounding, engender myth as naturally as the salmon spawns."
-The Independent (UK)

"ICE LAND is a lyrically written epic inspired by the beauty and the history of that island, and the rich world of Norse mythology that infuses it. . . Indeed the novel grafts a modern sensibility on to ancient myth, and is as much a contemplation of love and relationships as an epic adventure. . . Tobin finds female complexity at the heart of Norse mythology."
- Sunday Telegraph (UK)

"The novels of Betsy Tobin are dark and bloody, sensual and mythic. . . In ICE LAND Tobin inhabits this pagan land with passion and intensity."
-The Observer (UK)

"[ICE LAND] pulses with subversion and unexpected passion. . . an elegy not merely to a different age where the gods were perceived as not so distant, but also crucially to a tradition of storytelling; the gathering around a bright fire to hear tales of hardship, magic and love. It is surprising just how resonant they still are."
-Telegraph (UK)

"Tobin's descriptions of the natural relief of Iceland are triumphant."
-Time Out (UK)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781101133545
  • Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 8/25/2009
  • Sold by: Penguin Group
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 368
  • File size: 630 KB

Meet the Author

Betsy Tobin was born in the United States and moved

to England in 1989. She lives in London with her

husband and four children.
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Read an Excerpt

When I was sixteen, I was given a cloak made entirely offeathers. It was made from pale grey falcon wings,unthinkably soft, with no more weight than a handfulof ash. I remember the sensation as Odin first laid the cloakacross my shoulders. His hands brushed too long against myskin, but even as I noticed this, something else was happeningdeep inside me: a sudden narrowing, as if I was beingsqueezed from within. In an instant, I too felt weightless, andin another second I was airborne. I looked down to see themall staring up at me: my father, his expression vexed with disapproval;my twin brother Freyr, his dark eyes pools of envy;Odin’s wife, her smile frozen with complacency (surely shemust have seen his lingering caress?). And Odin himself, staringtoo intently with his one good eye, as if he could divineall the secrets of my adolescence. With relief, I turned mygaze from them and flew towards the horizon, the wind rushingat my face. And for the first time in my life, I felt free. Atsixteen, I’d not yet learned that it takes more than wings torelease one from the bonds of kinship.

They say this island sprang from the armpit of a giant. Thathis sweat turned to rivers which in turn begot the land. It is a jagged place, scarred by ice and fire, and perpetually tornby pale green rivers that refuse to stay their course. Longago, the forests were thick here. Wild beasts stood quietly, asif waiting to be shot. That was before men came and culledthem, using broad axes and fine-tipped arrows. Now treesare scarce and the animals hide, but the land remains generous.Each spring, the farmers toil in the fields to clear lumpsthrown up by frost. In summer, they drive their herds deepinto the highlands, where the grass is sweet and the sun neverdies. In winter, darkness descends upon us like a shroud. Menwrap themselves in furs, huddle around fires, and tell storiesfrom the past.

Water surrounds us. To the north, the frozen sea is but oneday’s sail. To the south, the long fingers of Norway andDenmark are eight days’ journey. The sea offers us food andprotection, but takes many lives in return. Despite its peril,the men here are of a wandering nature. They look to thehorizon and refuse to let it lie. But they always return, if thesea or the sword does not claim them, for this island pulls onits people. Once settled they are bound, both by its beautyand its harshness.

I was not born here. I left the land of my birth as a younggirl, and came to dwell in Asgard with my father and brother.We were a peace offering, my family and I, a gesture ofconciliation between the Aesir and the Vanir, my father’s people.My father was already a widower, saddled with the burdenof two young children, so he had nothing to lose bythrowing his lot in with the Aesir. In return, they made uscertain promises. Njord, my father, was given control of theseas. Freyr, my brother, was given control of the harvests.And I was left with the tainted realm of love.

Over time, I’ve come to represent love’s failings. Men and women turn to me in equal numbers. They bring their brokenengagements, their shabby infidelities, their star-crossedromances, their spent marriages, their unrequited passions,in hopes that I will have a cure. Sometimes I do. More oftenI do not. For what they don’t know is that our world is anelaborate conceit. The gods have no real influence over thelives of men. We are nothing but totems: we occupy the spacethat men create for something larger than themselves. Fewwho dwell in Asgard understand this. Fewer still would admitto it. But false belief underpins us all.

And, as for the sharp spear of love, it too is a deceit. Longago, in another life, I was wounded by its impact. Now Iknow that solitude and self-reliance make far more loyal bedfellows.Though I’ve been married once before, now mybond is to the earth and the sky and the mountains that surroundme. My home, Sessruminger, lies in the south ofAsgard, snugly in the lee of Mount Hekla. Her vast glacialpeak rises up behind me like the imposing neck of a triumphantqueen. Hekla’s moods can be capricious: onemoment she is stark, calm, majestic; the next wild, dark andmenacing. But I am thankful for her presence, for it is shewho orients me when I take to the skies, and she who bringsme back to earth. My tale starts and ends with Hekla, and Iwill tell it as it happens, in the manner of the bards.

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Reading Group Guide

INTRODUCTION

Iceland is changing. The volcano Hekla bubbles and smolders, looming over Iceland’s inhabitants and threatening to erupt over their farms, families and livestock. Christian missionaries have the ear of the Norwegian king, and all of Iceland’s citizens are being encouraged—and then told—to convert to the new religion and abandon their pagan ways.

Change doesn’t come easily, however, and it isn’t without its price. Freya, one of the Aesir— Norse gods who guide and manipulate the lives of Iceland’s mortals – sets off on a quest to find the Brisingamen, a golden necklace that sparks desire in the hearts of all who lay eyes on it. The fates have told Freya that her destiny and the destiny of her race is tied up in the necklace, and it is through her quest that she does indeed begin to shape the course of her life, and the lives of those she encounters.

Meanwhile, the beautiful mortal girl Fulla is caught between her grandfather, Hogni, who has raised her since her father was killed in a battle over borders with a neighboring family, and Vili, the handsome son of her father’s killer. The two youths feel a connection with one another despite their family’s old rivalry, or perhaps because of it, but as their friendship and love grows, their families’ renewed rivalry – and Hogni’s stubborn adherence to tradition—loom larger over them, like Hekla’s shadow, threatening to keep them apart forever.

Betsy Tobin’s beautiful rendering of the inhabitants of Iceland circa 1000 AD is a testament to the region’s rich mythological and cultural history. The Norse gods and goddesses come to life on these pages, more earthy and practical than magical, and yet not without their moments of wonder. Tobin’s knack for combining history and myth, and well-developed characters with luxuriantly detailed setting, brings to life this ancient world in a way that few books do. Ice Land is a stunning work of historical fiction that examines the changing face of family, tradition, loyalty, and love: what binds us all together, no matter the century.

ABOUT BETSY TOBIN

Betsy Tobin was born in the United States and moved to England in 1989. She lives in London with her husband and four children.

A CONVERSATION WITH BETSY TOBIN

Q. You detail your extensive reading of the NORSE myths in the afterword – how familiar with the myths were you before you began your novel? Did you do research simultaneously, while writing, or did you read as much as you could and then write? How important was it that you stay true to the mythology and traditions of Iceland?

I spend a great deal of time researching all my books, probably six months to a year, depending on the topic. This is also important time for the subconscious to be working out details about the story and the characters, so that you have a wealth of material in ‘deep storage’, as it were, before you start writing. I continue to research, as necessary, right the way through the writing process (and even afterwards) as gaps in my knowledge become clear. I also use research to trigger creativity and unblock myself if I become stuck. Sometimes it is the most obscure bits of information that will hold the key to a character or a scene.

With respect to Ice Land, while I drew inspiration from both the myths and the Icelandic Sagas, I used them more as a jumping off point for my own narrative, rather than a retelling. Some of the plot and several of the characters in Ice Land are based on myth, but I deviated freely when I wanted or needed to. At the same time, I also tried to make the historical detail accurate. But at the end of the day I’m a novelist, not a historian: my ultimate responsibility is to the reader and the narrative.

Q. What was your biggest challenge in writing this book? Do you think writing historical fiction, and fiction based on myth, is easier to write or more difficult to write than novels based on 21st century, contemporary life? What makes writing historical fiction fun? (And what are some of the pitfalls?)

Bringing mythic characters, or any amount of ‘magic realism,’ to an adult audience in mainstream fiction is certainly a challenge. I tried to treat the supernatural material as matter-of-factly as I could, so that it blended more or less seamlessly into the narrative, and the reader was not forced to examine it too closely, or ponder its likelihood! I wanted readers to be pulled into the story in such a way that they did not question the more unusual elements of the storyline, but accepted them at face value. We do this all the time when we read historical fiction anyway, so reading mythic fiction is just another step along the same path.

Q. Were there certain Norse myths, or parts of the Freya myth, that you had to cut from the original draft of the novel? If so, why were they cut?

Norse myth is a vast and varied body of literature, based loosely on retellings of the Poetic Edda, a collection of verse poetry spoken aloud for centuries before eventually being recorded by scholars in Medieval times. I drew on only a tiny fraction of this material for my tale. And I have taken enormous liberties with the Myth of the Brisingamen, altering both Freya’s motivation for acquiring the necklace and the reasons why it was stolen by Loki and Odin, as well as the final outcome of the story. The character of Fulla, for example, is purely my own creation. In the original myth, Freya is asked by Odin to stir up trouble on earth, setting neighbour against neighbour and brother against brother. When she steals Fulla, this is the unexpected outcome of her actions. So in that sense at least, I stayed true to the original.

Q. Is it tempting to revisit other myths and make them the subjects of a new novel? What did you find the most rewarding part of writing this book? How did it compare to the process of writing your first work of historical fiction, Bone House?

I suspect I would have little trouble re-visiting this terrain, as there is a wealth of material to draw upon for inspiration, though so far I’ve not been tempted to do so. That said, it was a very difficult book to get right, as it combined a lot of very disparate elements (history, myth, religion, geology, etc). Bone House was actually a very straightforward book by comparison: it used only one narrator to tell the story in first person and followed a very linear time frame. The setting was also very confined: all the action took place in one tiny village, and most of it in one house!

Q. What are you working on currently?

I am just finishing a very different sort of book about the illegal Chinese community in the UK. It is part-thriller, part ghost story, and portrays modern Britain as an alien, mystifying and occasionally frightening world for its main character, a young Chinese man called Wen. The book examines what happens when we are suddenly yoked out of our culture by circumstance. It is about identity and culture, a theme I often write about, as someone who has moved permanently away from my own country.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

  • In Ice Land, the magical and mundane not only coexist, they interact: How did you like the way Betsy Tobin wove together the lives of the Norse gods and the humans who inhabit Iceland? Also, evaluate the book as a piece of historical fiction – as Tobin sets her book during the century when many natives of Iceland began to convert to Christianity. Did the book feel more like a fantasy novel, or more like a work of historical fiction?
  • Similarly, was it difficult to move between the two main storylines (Fulla’s, and Freya’s)? When the two storylines intersected, and all of the characters came together at the end, was the integration seamless? How else might this convergence of the storylines be important? (What might it symbolize?)
  • Discuss the ways in which the first chapter, written from Freya’s perspective, sets the tone for the rest of the novel. What motifs and themes does it introduce, or foreshadow? Additionally, discuss the way Freya explains her role as a “god” in Iceland — how does it make her existence, and the existence of the other gods, seem more ordinary and matter of fact?
  • Fulla is introduced almost as Freya’s mortal counterpart – on the whole, she’s docile, obedient, and innocent. How much of this is due to her age, and how much of this is due to her nature? Describe and discuss the ways we see Fulla change over the course of the story – in what ways does she parallel the changes occurring in Iceland? (Likewise, how does Freya reflect these changes, too?)
  • Fulla’s grandfather, Hogni, represents the older generation in Iceland, a generation that believes in pagan myths and traditions and is resistant to the wave of Christianity spreading across the land. Discuss the ways in which his beliefs are put to the test when he and Fulla travel to the Althing to find her a husband, and later when Vili stays to nurse him after he’s wounded.
  • At the same time that Fulla and her grandfather are searching for her future husband, Freya is bartering with the dwarves for the Brisingamen. Knowing how Freya felt after being deserted by her husband, Od, and knowing that she was not shy about her sexuality, were you nonetheless surprised when Freya agreed to sleep with each dwarf brother in exchange for the necklace? What did each night reveal about the dwarves and, more importantly, Freya? Was Freya’s choice to trade her body for the necklace much different than Hogni’s decision to trade his granddaughter for wealth, connectedness and security? What comment do you think Tobin is making about sexuality through these characters?
  • Describe Freya’s relationship with Dvalin over the course of the novel and compare it with that of Fulla’s developing relationship with Vili. How are the two romances similar, and where are they – importantly – dissimilar? Which do you value more, and why? Which relationship feels more complex, and richer?
  • Discuss the importance of family in the novel by examining and comparing and contrasting the following relationships: Freya with Freyr and Njord; Vili with Thorstein; Fulla with Hogni; and Dvalin and Idun. What does the book (and the myths) reveal about the role of family in the lives of the Scandinavian people?
  • Compare the four women in Dvalin’s life – Idun, Gerd, Menglad, and Freya – and the way he treats them. Discuss the ways in which being abandoned by his mother at an early age most likely affected his relationships with women later in life. Why do you think he resisted being saved by Freya at various points throughout the book? What makes him accept Freya’s last and final rescue when Hekla errupts? (Why has his attitude toward her changed, and how has it changed?)
  • Likewise, compare the male characters in this book with the female characters. What traits are prevalent in almost all of the female characters? On the whole, what are the men like? What does this division between men and women say about the social structure of Iceland circa 1000 AD?
  • Discuss Odin’s revelation at the end of the novel, when he discloses to Freya that he believes he is Fulla’s father. Does his sudden interest in the girl feel genuine? What do you believe it might signify beyond a familial tie? (Why else would Odin feel compelled to connect with the girl?)
  • When Hekla erupts at the end of the novel, she acts as a catalyst for change – not only in the physical landscape of Iceland, but in the attitudes and emotions of its inhabitants. Describe the possible ways Hekla may also be a symbol within the novel – what does she symbolize? Why is it important (significant) that Freya refer to the volcano as a female entity? Similarly, how do the chapter divisions titled “The Norns” foreshadow what will happen in the pages that follow?
  • Compare Ice Land to other works of historical fiction that you may have read. How is it similar, and how is it unconventional? Did you enjoy it? What was your favorite part of the story?
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3
( 9 )
Rating Distribution

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Sort by: Showing 1 – 13 of 12 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 4, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Downloaded a Review to My Nook But It Was Only 1 Paragraph Long!

    Not sure if I'm going to buy this book yet, since I downloaded a 'preview' to my Nook and found the preview was only one paragraph long! What is the deal with that? Is this a mistake? That's not enough material to get a feel for the book. A preview should be several pages long, or even a full chapter.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 12, 2010

    Ice Land's Never Been So Hot!

    Betsy Tobin takes Icelandic myth and weaves her own twist into the tales. Capturing the beautiful and violent country side of Iceland she tells a story that combines Gods and humans and turns myth into a touchable tapestry. Her tale centers around two women, Fulla- a young girl being raised by her grandfather, and Freyja a "Goddess" of love and Magic on a quest to save the world from a prophesy foretelling Ragnorok- the end of the world. From the moment you open the book it will suck you into its world. Betsy does use a lot of historical mythology in her writing and it is helpful if you know a little bit of the Lore and culture of Iceland centuries ago, however, it is a book that can be just as enjoyable with out any of that knowledge. This one will be one that I share with many friends.

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  • Posted November 11, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I was attracted to this myth-based story for two reasons: first, because it drew from Norse mythology, whose gods - as well as those Greeks and Romans - still influence us today.

    The names of the days of the week, for example, come from Teutonic and Scandinavian mythology (Friday, for instance, was named for Freya [Freya's Day]), and second, because it was attached to the history of Iceland, which fascinates me. The two women and their parallel stories are compelling: Fulla, an Icelandic maiden struggling between marrying the man her father has chosen or Vili, an outsider he forbids her and the love story of Freya (even goddesses have trouble with love) who seeks a powerful gold necklace crafted by the heroic Dvalin, one of the Norns who live in underground caves. Affecting them all is the mighty volcano Hekla who can blow at any moment. Too dense to attempt a summary, but dense enough to support readers' discussion, Ms. Tobin creates a rich tapestry of Iceland, deftly weaving its historic threads with its mythological ones. Iceland is thoroughly enjoyable.

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  • Posted August 1, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    This is an exciting Nordic historical romantic fantasy

    In 1000 AD in Iceland, Freya the Aesir goddess of love seeks a gold necklace created by the Brising dwarves that the Fates warn her can change history. At seemingly the same time sixteen year old orphan Fulla has fallen in love with Vili, whose father killed her father. Meanwhile also apparently at the identical moments, the Norns observe increasingly dangerous volcanic activity especially by Hekla that looks ready to explode.

    Freya works a deal with the dwarves for the necklace in exchange for escorting their leader Dvalin in a quest to cure his sister's infertility. She actually obtains the necklace, but Odin steals it from her. Odin uses the necklace to extort Freya into kidnapping Fulla, who is his daughter; Fulla's human family accepts Vili into their clan as her husband. Hekla erupts destroying much of the surrounding area, but also enables Freya to regain the necklace and rescue Dvalin.

    This is an exciting Nordic historical romantic fantasy that use Norse mythology to tell the tale of forbidden loves at a time when Christianity has come to the island. Although the two major subplots can prove difficult at times to follow as perspective rotates frequently, sub-genre fans will relish Betsy Tobin's terrific tale of love conquers all even a legendary God.

    Harriet Klausner

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  • Posted July 2, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    "'I don't believe in fate.' 'Maybe it believes in you,' she said."

    ICE LAND is an undemanding, modest effective little historical novel. The world-historical turning points (in the sense developed by Sir Walter Scott, founder of the genre) behind this historical novel are the coming of Christianity from Norway to Iceland and the compromise Iceland's leaders accepted to allow adherents of "the old faith" (in Odin and the Norse gods) to exercise liberty of conscience -- privately. ***

    The author, Betsy Tobin, like Sir Walter Scott before her, knows her Norse legends and literature, and puts an original spin on her themes. Thus she places Asgard, home of Odin, Freya and other gods, not in the sky but in Iceland too close for comfort to Mount Hekla, a still active volcano in the south of the island. In the minds of many Europeans, Hekla was counted (along with Italy's Stomoboli) one of the two principal entrances to Hell. In the novel, the Norns, three goddesses of past, present and future, representing fate, function both as chorus and geologists. From time to time the Norns dispassionately explain the geological history of Iceland in terms of modern tectonic plate theory -- something the actors of the story could not, of course, possibly know. The Norns chorus thus links present and past, sciene and myth. ***

    Another fascinating touch to Icelandic history and religion by Betsy Tobin is to make dwarves, giants, gods and "just folk" seem a credible part of the landscape. They all belong to different tribes. The leading male character, master artisan Dvalin had, for example, a dwarf father and a flying "swan maiden" goddess mother. His attraction to and repulsion from the Aedir (god tribe) sex bomb Freya in many ways drives the novel. A secondary theme is Freya's mad passion to possess a beautiful bracelet, Brisingamen. She acquires the necklace in exchange for nights in their bed with each of the four brothers who had crafted the great gem. ***

    Politically, the Icelanders, many of whom had only sailed over in the last thirty years, are united in their desire to stay independent of King Olaf of Norway, who wants to Christianize them. If things get too un-libertarian for their taste, Icelanders can always move to Greenland or Vinland. ***

    Religion, like everything else in the novel, is very concrete. Freya for example, simply makes a house call and consults the Norn Skuld while the latter is busy at her loom. From Skuld Freya gets the hint that will lead her to possess the incomparable necklace Brisingamen after winning over the four dwarves who had created it. ***

    This novel is neither profound nor intended to be. It is all smooth surfaces and easy reading. ICE LAND is a pleasant way to ease into further personal, individualized study of Icelandic history, religion, myths and politics. Maps and a topical index would make a great addition. -OOO-

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