This is a wonderful novel, based on the travels of Gudrid who was the furthest travelled woman in the Viking era. The reader feels really absorbed into the story and experiences the discomforts of the travel (sleeping in damp cloaks in the boats, living through hard winters with little food) and the beauty and harshness of the natural world:
We climbed up past the caves where the giants live, right to the glacier itself. Close to, the glacier isn't the smooth white cone you see from out at sea. It's streaked with spines of larva and the snow is dusty with ash. There was cloud over the mountian, where the icedisappeared into a clammy mist that caught us in its breath as we passed. Our ponies trudged through patches of snow and picked their way among boulders through streams of meltwater. The glacier took a long time to pass. Then we climbed down by a river with may waterfalls.
Gudrin really comes alive in the narrative and I found myself really empathising with her. She's also a fascinating historical character and this novel gives insight into her role in Viking explorations of Greenland and the eastern coasts of north America, where they cut down the forests to make boats.
Susan Richardson has also written about Gudrid in a series of poems in here collection Creatures of the Intertidal Zone, which I reviewed a while back here.
The Sea Road by Margaret Elphinstone, published by Canongate
Creatures of the Intertidal Zone by Susan Richardson, published by Cinnamon Press