The Far Traveler: Voyages of a Viking Woman

Written by Nancy Marie Brown
Review by India Edghill

Sometime in the late 10th century, a woman journeyed far into the West, beyond the known horizon. She settled for a few years in Vinland—in Canada—and her son was born there. This book is the tale, as nearly as Brown could reconstruct it, of that woman, Gudrid the Far-traveler, famed in the Icelandic sagas for her strength and courage. And a far-traveler Gudrid certainly was: the book’s map shows her journeys, and she traveled from Iceland to Canada, to Norway, and to Rome.

Fascinated by the glimpses of Gudrid shown in the sagas, Brown began a study that took her on a journey as fascinating as any Gudrid undertook. Eagerly assisting in an archaeological dig on the site of what may have been Gudrid’s home in Iceland and examining the sagas against history’s backdrop, Brown brings not only Gudrid but the tumultuous world she inhabited to brilliant life. (Let me put it this way: this book made me yearn to sail across the North Atlantic in a Viking longship, and trust me, I know better!!)

This is an entrancing book; vivid and strong as the world it describes. Brown’s enthusiasm for her subject enthralls the reader (I stayed up until two a.m. to finish it in one go); rarely has learning about a new subject been so enjoyable. Highly recommended.