The Far Traveler: Voyages of a Viking Woman
By Nancy Marie Brown
In the 12th Century, a Viking woman named Gudrid packed up and left all she knew to sail to the edge of her known world. She was looking for the land found by Leif Eiriksson. After being blown off course by a storm, she eventually landed in the New World and made a home there only to sail back to her homeland a few years later.
Gudrid is mentioned in some Icelandic sagas and over the years her existence has been debated, until archeologists unearthed a longhouse in Newfoundland that proved she did in fact exist and was literally the stuff legends are made of.
I don’t read much non-fiction but I’ve always found Vikings fascinating and thought this would be interesting read. I was right, it was. Some of the archeological technology, GPS coordinate mapping, and other methods used to uncover the sites were not all the interesting but chapters on Viking diets, farming techniques, weaving, and daily living conditions were. Who would have thought the process of making wool and spinning would be entertaining? And, also a bit disgusting since urine is involved in the process but nonetheless fun to read about it. When I came to the chapters describing the lives of Viking I was hooked.
The sagas that Brown references in every chapter made me want to read more. I put The Greenlanders, a novel by Jane Smiley, on hold at the library and hope I find it just as entertaining. If you like Viking stories and sagas, you’ll enjoy this read. While part of it might sound like a college lecture, the rest makes up for it.