The Settlers: Axe of Iron is a tale of survival, strife, love, and the quest for a new home in the face of hostile opposition. Conditions of manifest destiny propel a large contingent of Norse Greenlanders from relative security into an odyssey of exploration and settlement out over the unknown waters of the North Atlantic, to a North America of one thousand years ago, to a land they called Vinland. The chieftain, Halfdan Ingolfsson and his second-in-command, Gudbjartur Einarsson, spend a winter gathering 315 men, women, and children from the two Norse settlements on the southwestern coast of Greenland.
Early in the spring of A.D. 1008, the company sets sail aboard six large cargo ships. Five days into the voyage, in the strait between Helluland and Markland, present day Hudson Strait, a gale holds the flotilla in its grip for four long and arduous days. Halfdan decides to seek shelter in a protected bay, so they can rest, repair the storm damage, and replenish food stores lost in the storm.
During the following weeks, the settlers reap a harvest of fish and game that is the best in living memory. When hunters discover a sheltered fjord, Halfdan orders a move. Tornit hunters from far to the north venture south to hunt, and the Northmen strike up a friendship with them. The Tornit tell the newcomers much about the local area and describe coastal waters far to the south.
It is this thought-provoking insight into the geography of this new land and the dawning realization that the storm god, Njord, seems to have led his people to this place, that cause Halfdan to revise his thinking and propose a new plan to Gudbjartur and the council of ship’s captains: sail south before choosing where to build their settlement.
Genre: Historical Fiction
Book Review: The Viking ship called ‘Steed of the Sea’ sailing in the cold dark waters in the foreground of tall glaciers under a foreboding sky on the cover is just the beginning.
Whether you sat under the history lessons of Columbus discovering America or are more adventurous in your approach to history and have a yearning to know who was here when Columbus arrived and where did they come from, ‘The Settlers’ is a tale that should be on a mandatory reading list in all schools in order to provoke thought and discussion on native North America in the latter half of the tenth century. Scholars can’t agree but this tale offers a new perspective about America’s indigenous people, how they viewed explorers, handled settlers and coexisted on a bountiful body of land with all its beauty and treacherous environment.
It is important to read the ‘Author’s Note’, ‘Historical Perspective’ and the ‘Glossary Of Norse Terms’ provided by the author to educate the reader. In the Author’s Note you will meet Gudbjartur Einarsson who is an Icelander, a Northman or Norseman who is second in command under Halfdan Ingolfsson. Chapter one unfolds six wooden ships carrying 163 Greenlanders and 152 Icelanders (including men, women and children) set sail with horses, cows, pigs, chickens, dogs, cats, equipment ( tents and parts to horse drawn carts) and supplies to explore areas of what they call Vinland (North America).
Exhaustive research, realistic characters garbed in functional layers residing in a true to life story line that allows the reader to experience the sea voyage and land exploration with exquisite writing that creates a sense of being present in the story even when this first book in ‘An Axe Of Iron Novel’ series has been closed on a night stand.
Here’s a few of my favorite quotes from the book:
“He whistled tunelessly to himself, the notes blown away on the wind. His eyes darted over the sea ahead and aloft at the trim of the sail and rigging. The heart of the ship pulsed through the soles of his feet, vibrated up through the steering oar and the palms of his hands, an inaudible hum that told him all was well in his world.”
“Wind driven rain stung exposed skin like bees protecting their hive.”
“Several kettles of whale blubber boiled over individual fires on the beach to render the valuable oil. The thick, rich oil, skimmed of the connective tissue – the crunchy fried meat and curled pieces of skin were a delicacy-had many uses. It was a valuable food source, preservative, and lamp fuel.”
After the journey across treacherous seas land was a welcome sight with all of its wild game like “Grunting herds of Reindeer” not to mention the predators like wolves and bears. Women and children scour rocky cliffs for seabird eggs to add to their food supply giving the kids some stress relieving egg throwing activity.
Unforeseen and inevitable injuries, herbal treatments, Viking burial ceremony amidst deep held Christian beliefs.
Attraction and a “bed of soft, furry skins nestled in the scrub brush, well protected from the north wind’. Passion, “eyes smoldered with lust” hands explore, tongues probe, “locked bodies swayed in the throes of passion”.
Hunting and cooking for survival, sewing for protective covering, animal pelts and jewelry making for trade commodity. The best and the worst of human nature revealed in a hostile new world.
Now heading into the reading of ‘Confrontation: An Axe Of Iron Novel’ book two of the series gives clarity as to the sequence of history, characters and events that readers should follow in order to understand and digest the fiction history which is laid out in great detail, humanity and historical correlation regarding much debated events.
Theodocia McLean endorses The Settlers – An Axe of Iron Novel book one in the fictional historical accounting of exploration and settlement of Vinland (North America). Review date October 18, 2014.
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