Frost by Roy Jacobsen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The book is about Gest (Torgest Torhallason), who as a 13 year old boy or man, to avenge the murder of his father, kills Viga-Styr, one of the greatest chieftains in Iceland. He has to flee Iceland, and in Norway he hides among friends. But even in Norway he cannot escape the powerful friends of Viga-Styr.
Gest is a very short and small man, but with cleverness and aggressive surprise attacks, he kills several of his pursuers. He thus gets even more enemies but befriends Eirik Hakonson, the earl of Hladir. After Olav Tryggvason's defeat in the Battle of Svolder, Eirik has become ruler of Norway. The novel tells how Eirik of Hladir, with Gest as adviser, joins up with Cnut the Great to conquer England in 1013.
What I dislike in Frost is the author's dealing with religion. When Gest meets Christianity in Norway and later in England, he starts thinking about the Christian faith and wonder if he is going to let himself be baptised. All this musing, however, has to have happened on the background and very much in contrast to his former Old Norse world-view, dominated as this must have been with gods like Odin and Thor and experiences of invisible creatures and forces, such as land-spirits, elves, dwarves, and the Norns that were weaving his fate. This Old Norse way of experiencing life Jacobsen ignores. Which of is too bad.
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