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The Thrall's Tale

3.13 of 5 stars 3.13  ·  rating details  ·  636 ratings  ·  130 reviews

"Set in Viking Greenland in A.D. 985, this dramatic historical novel focuses on the intertwined lives of three women straddling the pagan past and Christian future."

Published (first published March 28th 2011)
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This historical novel traces the story of Katla, a thrall who is part of the first Greenland settlement. Shortly after the arrival in Greenland, Katla is raped and brutally beaten by her master's son, Torvard. As a result, she is transferred to the household of Thorbjorg, seer and shamaness, who heals her. Katla also gives birth to a daughter, Bibrau. As Katla cannot love or bond with her child, Thorbjorg takes Bibrau under her wing and trains her in the shamanic rituals and magic, but, despite...more
Oh my god, this book... I did something I haven't done in years. I quit. I couldn't finish it. Maybe I'm just stupid or something, but I did not see the point of this story. I can see how it could be partly just a fictionalized narrative of Eric the Red's founding of the settlement on Greenland, and later, the coming of Christianity to Viking civilization. But I couldn't find a consistent thread of narration to follow. The writing was choppy, due in part to jumping back and forth between two and...more
This book was fascinating and difficult. It was fascinating because of the prose, characterization and the detailed depiction of Icelandic and Greenland culture and history of tenth century. I am a history buff, but this is my first venture into this topic. This is what made this book completely fascinating; the history, the detail, the characters set in the historical background, and the changes the culture was going through in the shift from Norse to Christian mythology. Also, telling the stor...more
Wow. And not a good wow, either. The amount of research Ms. Lindbergh put into this book is evident from the first, and is the only reason I continued to read past the halfway point.

The characters: I couldn't connect with any of them.
Thorbjorg-seemed like she was lost in a haze most of the time. I really wanted to like her, and at times almost managed it, but because she seemed so disconnected to everything, I could never hang on to the feeling.
Katla-I felt so horrible for her... at first. Ye...more
The cover is what appealed to me most about this book. It looked exciting, with three foreign looking women upon a viking ship. Finally, a story of the Norse women in a genre that is mostly taken up my male characters. The book is definitely interesting, I'll give it that.

The Thrall's Tale surrounds three women of different standing in early Greenland. There is Katla, favored thrall (slave) of her house who is beautiful and brave. She goes from favor, to after a brutal rape and beating, a scarre...more
Throughout this book, I got the sense that the author Judith Lindberg put a great amount of research into the time and place.

I really wanted to like this novel. However, there was no real joy or poignant turning points in character or plot. There was no one character I found myself cheering for. Katla is damaged but then goes on to hate and damage psychologically her own daughter. Thorbjorg notes the growing malevolency in Bibrau and tries to wrench it out of her with utter strictness, which inc...more
As much as I wanted to like this book, it's been a disappointment. Disappointment perhaps because there was so much promise and potential, but unfortunately, the story never captured my interest or imagination.

Katla is a slave girl, or thrall, in Iceland in AD985. When her master decides to move his household to Greenland, she too has to make the a perilous journey to an unknown land. With her, however, travel old grudges and troubles, and she is brutally raped and disfigured, scarred for life,...more
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I went into it hoping for something like Marion Zimmer Bradley's The Mists of Avalon. It was different than that, and yet had some similarities. There's little fighting. Most of the action is typical of women's fiction ... sniping between females, childbirth, the workings of a household, etc., and yet the tension is always there.

The characters are certainly three dimensional and you'll come to care very much for most of them, pagan and Christian. The historical re...more
This story is a saga of a thrall Katla, her master Thorbjorg, and Katla's daughter Bibrau told in the tradition of an Icelandic Saga. The language and historical details are beautiful, and this book was meticulously researched. It is a masterful work of historical fiction.

Why did I only give it three stars? It took me three years to read this book. I did not form much of a connection with the characters. Each character had his or her moments when I started to care about them and their journey,...more
Linda C
Did not like this book. While there were some decent moments, it went on way too long. I generaly won't give up on a book that I'm reading, unless I totally hate it, I was listening to this in the car and after about half the discs, I quit. I just didn't like it.

My one thing that I learned from this book, which is kind of cool, is that the English word "enthrall" presumably comes from the Norse word "thrall" (which meant slave).

Overall, disappointing book. Had great promise, and might have been...more
The concept, story idea and characters are interesting and initially engaging. A multi-voice approach to story telling can be frustrating when characters are as interesting as these are in the beginning - you must resist the temptation to read only one person's chapters in order to find out quicker what happens to them. An attempt to do so will find you lost because, alas, as a good writer should, Lindbergh in-beds key bits in the stories of others. About half-way through the book I began to fee...more
This is a fine reading by Virginia Leishman, trained as a Shakespearean actor. But this is the world of the Norse explorers and settlers in the 10th century. It is rich with Norse legends and mythology as imparted by one of the three female voices, Throbjorg, a seeress. The other two key voices are that of a thrall (slave) and her daughter by rape. One of my favorite character is the daughter's evil companion spirit, her fylgie. This is also the big story of the coming of Christianity and the en...more
If I had not been neck-deep in research about the Viking Age, I might not have liked this book quite as much. Many metaphors and subtleties rely upon an understanding and knowledge of Viking rituals and customs, the sagas, the eddas, futhark, Greenland, Norse gods and myth. Even some of the main events have their roots in historical fact. Lindbergh tells the story through the voices of three women, who narrate the story with an archaic syntax that is both lovely and obfuscating. The book is over...more
Hey, I'm not going to go into detail about what the book is about. If that's what you want, read a different review. What I will say is I liked this book a lot, and read it in 5 days. Sure, the language takes a bit of getting used to, but it's well worth it. If you're looking for something light and fluffy, this isn't it. What it is is a look at 3 women's lives in some pretty harsh times. A lot of reviewers didn't like any of these characters, but I don't think you have to like someone to find t...more
I really wanted to like this book.

Being a big fan of history - Norse history in particular - I was thrilled when I found this at my local Borders (RIP) and couldn't wait to dive in and read.

While I do have to give props to the author and the amount of research she did, the whole story was just way too disjointed (each chapter had a different narrator) and the characters were just awful and poorly written.

Needless to say, I was less than enthralled with The Thrall's Tale. And it had such promis...more
Eirik the Red leaves Iceland and settles Greenland with a group of Norse families and their slaves. Narrated in turn by a slave of Irish descent, her daughter, and an old Norse seer, this novel depicts the unrelentingly grim reality of life in ninth century Greenland, and the clash of the old religion with Christianity. It took me some time to get used to the unusual diction, but after a while I came to appreciate it. The poetic prose style was reminiscent of actual Old Norse literature.
Okay..I didn't actually read this one. I got so bored with it after 2 chapters that I gave up. Though I do wonder if she ever gets with 'her gentleman'. But the whole air of the book seemed like it was gonna be a depressing one. I didn't want to read through death and the killing of love. Perhaps I should have given it more time.
I noticed that the reviews of the book were less positive than I had expected. I think that perhaps the readers got confused with the language. The audio version makes the language less intimidating, and draws you into the story, allowing you to feel as if you were there with Katla and the others.
Lisa Keipp
Good, except we get it about the wadmal. Yes, common fabric that they would have been weaving and wearing and trading. But it's ok to say she fell on her behind rather than her wadmal covered behind. More than halfway through the book, we don't keep needing reminders of wadmal.

Otherwise, I liked the book.
The Thrall's Tale is a well written bit of Norse historical fiction. I truly enjoyed it. If you are looking for a warm and fuzzy, this isn't it. I've read several reviews that referred to the writing style or the odd language of the book, but I didn't notice it.
Sam Jones
This was really good period Viking fiction. The story of the settlers of Greenland, from the point of view of two slaves and a seeress of Odin. Definitely a heck of a counterpoint to The Long Ships.
Katla, whose mother was a Christian Irishwoman kidnapped in a Viking raid, has grown up a thrall (slave) in Viking Iceland. When her master Einar decides to follow Erik the Red to establish a Norse settlement on Greenland, Katla is taken along. Unfortunately, she finds herself on the receiving end of unwanted attention from Einar's son Torvard, who savagely rapes her. An old seeress, Thorbjorg, accepts Katla into her own home instead, but Katla is pregnant and her tale of anguish is only beginni...more
The Thrall's Tale chronicles the early viking colonies in Greenland and covers the introduction of Christianity to a pagan shore. Katla, a beautiful thrall (slave) born to a Christian Irishwoman enslaved in a Viking raid, emigrates with her master from Iceland to Greenland in AD985. Katla joins the household of Thorbjerg, a powerful seeress and gives birth to a daughter, Bibrau. These three women alternatively narrate the tale.

Judith Lindbergh devoted ten years to researching and writing The Thr...more
Because I listened to the audiobook version of this book, read by Virginia Leishman, I have a hard time separating my thoughts about the book itself and the reader. Both were incredible. The language had me enthralled (pun intended) from the very first, and I don't think a more perfect performer could be found than Virginia Leishman. The moment it ended, I put the first CD back in and started over, it was that entrancing. I'd like to have a paper copy of the book so I can refer to it and pore ov...more
This book wasn't bad, considering it was a random selection from a bargain bin in a bookstore. By the end I was ready for it to finish, but the story was interesting enough. It focuses on three women--Thorbjorg, a seeress devoted to the Nordic gods; Katla, a "thrall" or slave from Ireland whose mother taught her Christianity before she died; and Bibrau, an evil, demon-like child spawned of Katla's rape by her owner's brutish son. The three reside in the first Norse settlement in Greenland, somet...more
Lorraine Floyd
"Now it does not matter if I be pagan, Christian. To walk beside her, yet still in my own path--what a simple thing it seems--so hard to do."

This passage refers to a thrall (slave) who once belonged to a "witch" and is now a freed Christian. Her former owner accepts her grief over her husband's death and comforts her, while the priest condemns her for her lack of faith in God's plan} This metaphor made so much sense to me. Offer acceptance instead of condemnation (which applies to many other su...more
Eryn Grant
Not my cup of tea. I struggled to read this and in the end wanted to put myself out of my misery. I found the characters lacked motive toward their actions. Yes, sure it's historical fiction but I felt there was not enough reason behind characters actions. Perhaps I'm spoilt by Reading Hannah Kent's Burial Rites also set in a similar region slightly different time - but the voices in her work are precise and evoke more meaning toward actions and history at the time the novel was set. Obviously t...more
Pamela Hofman
You should probably have a bit of a strong stomach to read this book. I don't usually have trouble reading books which contain violence, but I should mention that there's one scene in this book that did get to me.
I recommend this book regardless and it's important to know that the scene to which I'm referring plays a pivotal role in the main character's development.

It was fascinating to read a story set in this time and place. I have no idea how accurate was the representation of societal stru...more
Wicked Incognito Now
I'm giving this book 3 stars, not because I "liked it" as the rating system suggests, but because it is not a 1 star or 2 star book.

I didn't like this book. In fact, I had to stop reading it last night--I was 2/3 of the way through.

However, the writing is very well-done. The author does an excellent job of portraying a time-period, culture and landscape that are harsh---yet an extremely significant turning-point in history.

This novel is also obviously extremely well-researched. The author deserv...more
Marilyn Saul
What a depressing book!! Through no fault of the author; just a depressing, well-researched look into the lives of women in Viking Greenland. The one thing I took from this book is how women's power in a major religion (by providing communication with the gods through "seeing", as well as providing healing through herbs and runes) was supplanted by priests (male, of course) spreading christianity and acting as the only conduit to their god.
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Judith Lindbergh's first novel, The Thralls Tale, is the story of three women in the first Viking Age settlements in 10th century Greenland. It was a Booksense Pick and a Borders Original Voices selection. Her work has appeared in Archaeology Magazine and in connection with the Smithsonian's exhibition Vikings: The North Atlantic Saga. She is currently at work on a new novel from her home in New J...more
More about Judith Lindbergh...
Bibrau het Vikingkind

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