Midwest Book Review
The King of Vinland's Sagaby Stuart W. Mirsky
An historical adventure in the heady tradition of Sir Walter Scott, James Fenimore Cooper, and H. Rider Haggard, this book sweeps the reader back to a time when bold men hazarded harsh and unknown seas in search of treasure and fame. Denied his birthright at home, Sigtrygg Thorgilsson, orphaned grandson of Leif Eiriksson, must seek his due overseas-in Leif's half-forgotten land-claim of nearly 50 years before, on the shores of the New World.
Urged on by his beautiful young cousin, Thjodhild, and aided by a mysterious, one-eyed seaman, with a knack for spell-casting and dream interpretation, and a local ruffian armed with an unusual axe, Sigtrygg flees the ice-clad fjords of coastal Greenland just ahead of his greedy uncles who would keep his inheritance from him. Once in the new land, the adventurers must carve a place for themselves amidst the warring native tribes who rule the unknown country. Though finding the strange ways of these tribal people both fascinating and repellant, they soon form an uneasy alliance with one side to save themselves and the daughter of one of their enemies. Yet they are not the only Norsemen in the land as they shortly discover when Sigtrygg's kinsmen abruptly arrive to contest his land-claim and the place he has made for himself among the tribes. Then only the passion of the head-strong and willful Thjodhild stands in the way of an irrevocable breach between the two Norse factions. But even she cannot win Sigtrygg back from the native woman who has captured his heart.
Forced to choose between two women, two peoples and two lands, Sigtrygg wavers perilously as a native host gathers, like storm clouds overhead, and the two Norse factions stand poised on the edge of a blade which, once drawn, cannot be sheathed again-until it has been bathed in kinsmen's blood. Then not even the invincibility of an enchanted axe or the wisdom of sorcerers can avert the doom which awaits those who walk in the shadow of Leif Eiriksson's greatest achievement . . . and that curse which lies across the land he took for his own.
From the Author:
An Historical Adventure in the Old Tradition
When I set out to write this book I aimed to create a tale both modern and old-fashioned-one which could hold its head up as an historical romance of the 19th century sort, yet still work for us moderns. To do so, I selected the "voice" of a 13th century sagaman to recount an 11th century adventure in the guise of a 19th century historical romance. And frankly, while I had to cheat a little to make the tale contemporary, I really didn't cheat all that much. In truth, adopting the voice of other times is actually a very respectable tradition for telling a tale of high adventure, though it seems to have gone out of style in the late twentieth century. (The closest thing we seem to have to it today is "fantasy and science fiction"-which this book isn't, so be forewarned.) Hopefully, The King of Vinland's Saga will help make high adventure fashionable once more, finding its audience among those who like history or who just like their fiction well-leavened with the archaic. For myself, I was particularly taken with the remarkable sympathetic resonance between the old sagas of medieval Iceland and our own American mythos of the West so I tried to capture that as well. I hope the reader will find some or all of this in the book offered here. I, at least, enjoyed writing it.
Midwest Book Review
- Xlibris Corporation
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 1.42(d)
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Stuart Mirsky's 1998 novel, THE KING OF VINLAND'S SAGA reads as smoothly as a good wine goes down. It is an especially good book for young readers because its vocabulary (like that of the Norse sagas to which it pays tribute) is simple, compact and repetitive. Children and teens who cherish tales of isolation and distance such as THE LORD OF THE RINGS, SWISS FAMILY ROBINSON and ROBINSON CRUSOE will happily turn the pages of the story of 11th century Viking Sigtrygg Thorgilsson, fictional grandson of the great explorer Leif Eriksson. *** Young Sigtrygg is more at home out on the ice hunting walrus and polar bears than he is visiting his noble kinsmen in a Norse farming settlement in Greenland. After becoming a virtual outlaw, he leads a handful of followers to his grandfather's old salt water camp in Vinland (now eastern Canada). He and they then interact far in the interior with stone age Skraelings (Amerindians) where he bests one of their regional kings. Returned to the coast, Sigtrygg finds that his distant kinsman and a boatload of Norwegians have taken possession of his holdings. Among them is a childhood sweetheart Thjodhild Gunnarsdottir. She wants to marry Sigtrygg. He is willing to marry her but not to give up his Skraeling wife, something Thjodhild will have no part of. In the end, the Norsemen kill off almost all their own heroes and the Skraeling drive the rest back beyond Greenland to Ireland and Norway. Thjoldhid bears a son (probably Sigtrygg's) but eventually becomes a melancholy nun in Iceland. Sigtrygg had refused to leave his Skraeling bride behind when given a chance to escape and was apparently killed. But perhaps he consented to serve the New World king who would have let him live leave the land. *** The book's handful of characters fatalistically but not always bravely strive for honor and fame, realizing that, in the end, all is chance. -OOO-
This novel is a gem! The book was suggested to me ( by S.W.M.), and frankly I had very little interest in reading a Norse saga. I'm an avid reader of history with an occaisonal historical novel thrown in to take the edge off. Stuart Mirsky has managed to create a rousing adventure tale told in an archaic voice which moves - no shoves - the reader along the plot-twisting road of his novel. The style used to tell his tale brings a comfortable authenticity to his work making it feel like history, but it inspires the awe of myth and legend. It is the story of an outcast Greenlander trying to recover his birth-right while facing treacherous kinsmen, wild Skraelings and, more formidably, the wrath of a former love. And it all takes place from Greenland to North America finally ending in Iceland. Stuart, where is your next book!
Outstanding saga of Norse adventure with fully fleshed out characters told in an intriguing style. In this extremely well researched tale the adventures of Sigtrygg and his adventurous crewmen is truly spellbinding. From the first clash with his greedy kinsmen, to the daring ocean voyage and subsequent battles with the Skraelings, you are completely immersed in the adventure and are kept on the edge of your seat to the very end. This book opens up a period in our history not widely written about nor as well known as much other historical fiction. One of the rare books you honestly won't want to put down, as you will be drawn into the plot and completely immersed in the lives of Sigtrygg and his crew. This is a 'must read' book.
This book has a great story line and has good characters available. I must say that I am disappointed with how it was written and the character development that was used. There were many times that I felt like I was drifting off into space and couldn't concentrate on the piece because the way it was written. It had plenty of good information, I just don't feel that it was presented to it's fullest potential. I would not have finished this book had I not promised to read and review it. Good luck on your future endeavors.
Mirsky's first book is an exciting adventure novel that you can reccomend to anyone who enjoys history. His characters come to life in ways that will make the reader think of the heroic exploits of Greek legends. I enjoyed the action scenes most of all although the ending was particularly well written. I liked it so much I lent my copy to my brothers, who liked it so much they kept my copy! Bravo to the new author!
While I realize what the author was trying to do with the old legend style of storytelling, this just didn't work for me. There were times I found myself drifting off into never-never land because I was bored with the way this book was written. I think a rendition using modern language would have been much more effective. The characters were also a big letdown. At times these people came to life with real concerns and emotions, but mostly they came off as lifeless as rocks with their mind-numbing overuse of phrases such as, 'In my opinion...' and, 'It's all the same to me...' I would have loved to learn a little more about Norse culture, but all I saw was how many of the 'kinsmen' reminded me of modern day Democrats with all their whining, complaining, and constant threats of lawsuits against anyone alive. The story was pretty good, but a good story is only worth two stars. The only reason I finished the book is because it was a Christmas gift, and I would have felt guilty leaving it on the shelf unread. All in all, I couldn't wait till it was over.