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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining historical fiction of breadth and quality, 8 Jan 2003
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This review is from: The King of Vinland's Saga (Hardcover)
If there is a book that can positively dismiss the somewhat stuffy image of interminable Norse Sagas then this could well be it. Having little prior knowledge of this era in history I set about, with a little trepidation, my journey into the lost world of Norse exploration. And was hooked from page one as though I was devouring a quick-read thriller, except Mirsky’s saga is far, far superior in all respects.
For a first novel the author has set himself a huge task, and succeeded, demonstrating an erudite knowledge of the subject combined with a disciplined story-telling ability. The narrative style, although archaic, gives the epic story it’s own momentum and is a refreshing read for it.
This narrative voice, like Arnilot’s double-edges battle-axe, has both advantages and disadvantages and requires a confident hand to wield it.
It allows the storyline to remain on course with gusto, covering time-spans that otherwise would require inconsequential details to fill the gaps.
However, the flip-side is the loss of detailed characterization. For those readers unfamiliar with this era in Norse exploration a background introduction would also have been welcome.

The story itself follows the adventures of a disparate group of mostly Greenlanders lead by the stoical ‘Stigrydd’ to claim land bequeathed to him by his forefathers, after leaving their homelands in somewhat dubious circumstances. The land in question is the Vinland of the title, a.k.a. North America, and describes the interaction of Stigrydd’s band with the indigenous Indians and their culture.
Add swash-buckler ingredients; heroic Viking battling with hostile Indian tribes in defense of a more welcoming tribe, the inevitable love interest, jealousy, the later arrival of an adventuring Norwegian ship containing some familiar but unwelcome Kinsmen with competing land claims, and a bloody family feud. Combined with Mirsky’s obvious writing talent what you get is an unusually entertaining historical fiction of breadth and quality that stands, like the Viking men themselves, heads above the dirth of competing novels in this genre. Highly recommended and well done Mr. Mirsky.
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 24 Aug 2013 23:32:03 BDT
Last edited by the author on 24 Aug 2013 23:41:07 BDT
R. Conway says:
I'm glad this reviewer liked Stuart Mirsky's book - so do I, very much. But I must protest at his attribution of a stuffy image to the Norse sagas ('dismissing the somewhat stuffy image of interminable Norse Sagas'). Such an image (if it exists in anyone's head) is more likely to be based on a vague misconception and lack of direct experience, I think. May I recommend the Icelandic Family Sagas: set in 10th century Iceland, and written in the 13th century, they are a kind of 10th century axe toting, sheep stealing, blood feuding version of Coronation Street, written about largely historical people and families: They are a lifelong passion of mine and I think this reviewer would greatly enjoy some of them.
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