Friday, October 17, 2008
In the year 985 A.D. Viking ships set sail from Iceland towards a newly discovered land they named Greenland. Aboard these ships are men and women who carry the hope of starting a new life. This is a tale of the history, of the inhabitation of Greenland. It is portrayed through the poignant dialogue of three generations of women as they struggle to survive the harsh landscape in the search for happiness.
As a young girl, Katla was captured in a Viking raid of her Irish village. A slave to a kindly master, she is forced to travel with him to the new land called Greenland. While on the ship, Katla meets Thorbjorg, a prophetess whom every fears and shuns.
Soon after their arrival in Greenland, her master’s son, a cruel young man named Torvard, brutally beats and rapes Katla. Not only must she bear the emotional and physical scars of this assault for the rest of her life, but she finds herself pregnant. Hatred for Torvard and the child she births named Bibrau, consumes her.
Bibrau grows to become a cold, withdrawn child partially due to her mother’s dislike of her and the beat the villagers belief that she is a changeling. After a vision from her god, Thorbjorg assumes responsibility for the unwanted child and makes her an apprentice. Misunderstood and unloved from the start, Bibrau shows a great talent for the healing arts. She begins to dabble in the black arts. The anger and hatred she carries in her heart, prevents Bibrau from excelling at the healing/magical arts. As her power grows, she learns to favour the evil over the good, wreaking havoc upon her mother and the rest of the inhabitants of their small community.
In The Thrall’s Tale, Judith Lidbergh transports her readers into the violence and turmoil of early Greenland. Told in the voices of Katlan, Bibrau, and Thorjborg, the reader is ensnared by the rich prose which provokes intense emotion throughout. Vivid in historical details, this novel is a true work of art and can stand alone as a precious insight into a time long forgotten. I recommend it to anyone who longs to be swept away by a story rich in words and unique in detail.