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The Thrall's Tale

3.14  ·  Rating Details ·  776 Ratings  ·  158 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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Jun 30, 2011 Carol rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Oct 07, 2007 Steve rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Barbara ★
OMG what a thoroughly depressing book! The main characters - all female - are totally miserable and bitchy. At no point was this book actually enjoyable to read.
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
Jul 18, 2011 Lynne rated it it was amazing
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
Apr 17, 2011 Melissa rated it liked it
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
Jul 11, 2014 Brandie rated it did not like it
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
Oct 01, 2012 Sabina rated it did not like it
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,
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,
Sep 15, 2012 Steven rated it really liked it
Shelves: chick-lit, historical
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
Linda C
Jan 05, 2010 Linda C rated it it was ok
Shelves: hated, audio-books
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
May 13, 2010 Laura rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 03, 2008 Jessica rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2010
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
Apr 15, 2011 Chrissy rated it really liked it
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
Oct 28, 2011 T. rated it did not like it
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
Jun 01, 2009 Gwyn rated it liked it
Shelves: historical
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.
Feb 05, 2009 Jessica rated it did not like it
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.
Lisa Keipp
Jul 21, 2012 Lisa Keipp rated it really liked it
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.
Mar 03, 2009 Gailann rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Sep 14, 2009 Joanna rated it really liked it
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
Jun 23, 2011 Sam Jones rated it really liked it
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.
So, you know when you're faced with an anti-abortion person and they want to engage you by asking "Well, what if Beethoven's mother had an abortion? And then ALL THIS GOOD WOULD NEVER HAVE HAPPENED!". This book reminded me of that, except, really, the line of thinking it drove me towards was "Well, what if this character had been allowed to not have the baby that erratically decides to help, but mostly hurt the lives of the people around her?" Which, honestly, I think would have made a better, a ...more
Marie Z. Johansen
I am a bit flummoxed about what to say about this book. At about page 35 I considered returning it to the library unread...but I kept going. My reading experience waxed and waned throughout the book.

At it's heart this is the story of the discovery and settlement of Greenland, and the stories of three women, Katla (a bound thrall/slave), Thorberg (a wise woman, rune caster) and Bibrau (ill gotten daughter of Katla and apprentice of Thorberg).

Others who have reviewed this book have written more
Cathy Hansen
Nov 10, 2016 Cathy Hansen rated it liked it
It was interesting because it was from the perspective of Viking women. There are intense scenes that are very gorey. I started this book as an audiobook. It is rich with detail and I found myself rewinding a bit but it is narrated well. Would recommend the audiobook for setting the tone and I liked having the names pronounced correctly. The style is that each chapter is narrated by one of the three main characters so it's a little choppy. Overall I enjoyed it.
Jun 15, 2015 Manda rated it really liked it
Nomadic SA Chick Book Reviews

This is the story of Katla, a thrall (a slave). Set in Greenland, we learn right away about the brutal rape of Katla by her master's son. A rape that left her maimed and nearly destroyed. Thorbjorg, a seer, takes the beaten and pregnant Katla in. Thorbjorg becomes a surrogate mother to Bibrau, the baby produced by the rape. Katla is so fractured by her assualt that she cannot even look at her own daughter, because all she sees in the evil of her father. Bibrau
Jun 30, 2011 Lauren1012 rated it it was amazing
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
Kilian Metcalf
Feb 25, 2016 Kilian Metcalf rated it did not like it
Life in 10th-century Greenland was dreary, desolate and depressing. And that was for the free. For the thralls, it was nasty, brutish and short. I acknowledge Lindbergh's meticulous research, but the story line has not one bright spot. Not for the characters, not for the readers. It was a downer all the way. This is my second time with this book. I started it years ago when it was first published and abandoned it early on. This time I was determined to push through, and I did. I'm sorry I did. A ...more
Carl Alves
Dec 01, 2014 Carl Alves rated it it was ok
What led me to read this novel was that I am fascinated by Norse culture, and this time period was a particularly interesting time in Norse lore. The size of the novel seemed daunting, but I still was on board with it. Unfortunately, this novel didn’t even come close to delivering on any type of promise. The story is a long-winded affair following a slave girl, Katla, as she goes on the initial voyage with Eric the Red as he founded Greenland and her life in Greenland.

The first thing about this
Oct 11, 2008 Sheree rated it really liked it
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
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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
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