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Non-Fiction Review – The Far Traveler

The Far Traveler: Voyages of a Viking Woman by Nancy Marie Brown


Review by Jennifer (mywolfalways)


 

Having read numerous non-fiction books on Vikings and people living during the Viking age, it was refreshing to see new hypotheses being presented.  While some are believable, others lack supporting evidence to be considered.  By using Gudrid’s life in Eirik the Red’s Saga and The Saga of the Greenlanders as an outline, the author does a wonderful job explaining different aspects of the society with a particular emphasis on women.

 

The first chapter opens with the author’s experience of awe at first seeing a Viking ship on the water.  In speaking with replica-makers, she learns more about how the ships are made, along with their advantages and limitations.  She also explores how the Vikings were able to navigate the open seas and how they dealt with being hafvilla or “bewildered by the sea”.

 

Chapter two presents the reader with what happens in the two sagas, whether or not the events and people are true, and how best perhaps to interpret them.  Chapter three further explores the two sagas, specifically in regards to women’s rights and how their lives may have been.  The author compares these to that of women in Arthurian legend, which are written around the same time, to show how different the life of the Norse was in comparison to the rest of the women in Europe.

 

Chapters four and five concern themselves with exploration, raiding, and land-taking, perhaps what the Vikings are best remembered for by most people.  It speculates how chieftains, the average citizens, and slaves interacted, as well as how law worked as explained by examples found in the Sagas, as well as what is found in the “Grey Goose” law.

 

Chapters six through nine explore the many lands that Gudrid may have lived or visited during her voyages over the sea.  Many places over the years have been claimed to be the lands visited due to the descriptions given in the sagas and the author explains why some of these places are possibilities while others are not.  How housing, food, and clothing were acquired in places with such limited resources, excluding trade, is a fascinating topic and is presented in great detail.

 

The book closes with the spreading of Christianity, how it effected the lands, and the end of Gudrid’s life.

 

Brown’s writing is enjoyable and the personal excitement sprinkled throughout the book about her own experience at an archeological dig makes it easy to get caught up in the book.  At the end, I think most readers will find their curiosity satiated, while others may find themselves eager to learn more.

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4 Responses to “Non-Fiction Review – The Far Traveler”

  1. Mary R. (marykr) says:

    You have a happy ‘swapper’ here! I have been a member since June 2011.

  2. Robin K. (jubead) says:

    Thank you for the review. I just started to read about the Vikings, so this is perfect timing. I will add to my TBR.

  3. Jerelyn H. (I-F-Letty) says:

    Sounds like an interesting book thanks for the review Jennifer

  4. Lori B. says:

    Interesting review, Jennifer. The juxtaposition of Norse and Arthurian woman intrigues me. I like history that delves into details. Thanks for the insight.

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