Land of Wooden Gods

Jan Fridegard, Author, Robert E. Bjork, Translator University of Nebraska Press $8.95 (211p) ISBN 978-0-8032-6870-8
A diligent if lusterless interpretation of Viking history in the ninth century, this first volume of a trilogy by Swedish novelist Fridegard (1897-1968) eschews warrior glories and focuses on the thrall Holme and his rebellion against his oppressors. The chieftain of his settlement sentences all thrall babies to death, and although the servants pk learn to take this in stride, Holme and Ausi, whom Holme had raped and impregnated, flee the community pk with their offspring in tow. According to Bjork, Holme--the homeless boy who was found on an islet or ``holme'' and has grown up to be a master smith--embodies his author's proletarian and anarchist ideology, and eventually emerges as a noble revolutionary. As protagonists, Fridegard's archetypes are unfortunately one-dimensional. The taciturn, dour and brutal Holme (he saves one child but disfigures another and abandons a third in the forest) is inscrutable; and Ausi's embrace of Christianity is simplistic (``Everything had seemed so bright and joyous while the stranger was there; now, since he had brought light and then disappeared, it was even darker than before''). Even human sacrifice and ritual orgies are depicted in prose as wooden as the Norse idols. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 10/01/1989
Release date: 10/01/1989
Hardcover - 211 pages - 978-0-8032-1970-0
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