The tough and male-dominated world of the Vikings is the setting for Jensen’s new novel. Having reviewed her previous story, The Lady in the Tower, it is interesting to follow her progress as a writer of historical novels for teens. This story has the real feel of place and time missing in the previous one and paints an authentic sounding picture of the harsh life of the Vikings.
Thora sees her father killed by Bjorn, the violent man who wants to marry her, and forced by circumstance falls in with her fellow captor’s plans when he kills her suitor. Taking Bjorn’s place this former slave seizes the Viking longship and some of its crew and sets sail for Iceland, a place Thora has dreamed of seeing. Her growing feelings for ‘Bjorn’ are dealt a blow when he marries Ragna ironically to free Thora from death and the ship sails on for Iceland and the crew found a settlement on the north coast of Iceland. Thora has the gift of second sight and foresees various events and ‘auras’ surrounding people giving her notice of their intentions and thus she saves the settlement from harm but Ragna is always vicious and jealous towards her, even trying to poison her. Inevitably the way is made clear for ‘Bjorn’ and Thora to look forward to a future together.
Thora is a healer as well as a visionary and some of the most interesting historical parts of the story describe her methods of healing, using plants. The harshness of the Viking life with its strict code of behaviour which makes Thora unable to show her feelings for ‘Bjorn’ who is married, and its faith in its various gods, is an integral part of the story making this a much more satisfactory read, reflecting the real growth of Jensen’s writing and feel for the period about which she writes.