Daughter of a Thousand Years
This dual-timeline novel follows the stories of two women: Freydis, daughter of Erik the Red in early 11th-century Iceland; and Emma Moretti, modern academic and daughter of a congressman running for reelection in a contentious campaign season. Freydis struggles to find freedom to worship the old Norse gods while the new religion of Christianity encroaches into her society. She resists the end of her faith and way of life and is aided by a mysterious, possibly supernatural, man. He can give Freydis exactly what she needs but also exactly what she wants, least of all to preserve her faith.
Emma deals with similar struggles. She was raised a Catholic but is now a practicing pagan devoted to Thor. She is afraid to practice her faith openly, not only because society generally is intolerant of non-traditional faith practices, but because any deviation from what is considered acceptable could cost her father the election. Naturally, her secret is discovered and causes waves not only in the campaign but in Emma’s own personal and professional life as well.
This is an interesting read even though I didn’t find any of the characters likeable or sympathetic. Freydis is overly hard and inclined to violence. Emma seems more like a whiny teenager than a well-educated adult. However, they both deal with very real and relevant issues that many people face today. Religious tolerance and understanding is too often lacking in society, and keeping one’s faith hidden for fear of being persecuted is still a sad fact of life for many people. Discussing religious freedom in all its peaceful forms is necessary. I appreciated that this novel took a good, hard look at this important topic.