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3.96 of 5 stars 3.96  ·  rating details  ·  72 ratings  ·  9 reviews
This book takes the reader on a journey from Orkney, over to Norway, into Iceland and Ireland, recreating with historical accuracy the customs and landscapes of the time while bringing the age to life through a large cast of engaging characters. Through the telling of Ranald's story, Mackay Brown displays abundant knowledge about many facets of early Orkney life, of seaman ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published June 1st 2005 by Birlinn Ltd (first published July 16th 1993)
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George Mackay Brown's fourth novel, Vinland, reads much like the sagas that his main character, Ranald Sigmundson, might have heard sung. In his youth, Ranald, a boy from Orkney, journeys to Vinland with Leif Ericson, and his life is forever marked by an encounter that he has there with one of the skraelings. Ranald subsequently visits the King of Norway's court, fights in the host of Earl Sigurd at the battle of Clontarf, and then settles into farming life in an Orkney torn by the civil wars be ...more
Jul 01, 2013 Larou added it
Another novel that is part of my small reading project with books inspired by Icelandic sagas, and one I probably would have liked considerably more if I had not read it directly after William T. Vollmann’s awe-inspiring Ice-Shirt. It still was a decent read, and I guess it helped that it was by far the slimmest volume so far.

One surprising but very enlightening side effect of this project is that by reading (more or less) in a row several novels tackling the same historical period, you get a ve
This book should be called Orkney rather than Vinland. I learned so much about Orcadian history from it. Set in the 11th century, this beautifully written story of the life of Ranald Sigmundsen who went to Vinland with Leif Ericsson, visited the court of King Olaf in Norway, fought at the battle of Clontarf in Ireland against Brian Boru, eventually settling in his native Orkney to farm and raise a family, touched every corner of my heart. The writing is precise, using an economy of words that on ...more
This novel weaves Leif Ericson's voyage to North America, the earliest encounter between Europeans and Native Americans, brutal wars between Scandinavians and Celts, pastoral farm life on the treeless Orkney Islands, the struggle between the Norse gods and early Christianity for the souls of men, the Scottish King Macbeth and the Norwegian King Magnus into a rich tapestry of life in the north Atlantic over one thousand years ago. George Mackay Brown's poetic prose is a joy to read, even with the ...more
I read Mackay Brown as I love Orkney, where all his novels and short stories are set, so when I am not there they serve in a sense to keep me connected. Vinland, though, being the life story of Ranald Sigmundson, is more wide ranging, and so has an epic feel about it.
I hate it when a book beats me. I know I bought 'A Calendar of Love' when I was in Orkney because it seemed like the right thing to do, although I haven't read it yet. But I had no memory of buying this.

So, after I'd struggled to around the halfway point, and my husband wondered aloud why I was reading one of his books, I had no qualms about returning it to its rightful place on his bookshelf, safe in the knowledge that I hadn't wasted any money on it. Is there anything worse than a tightfisted
Katherine Simmons
Highly readable and enjoyable modern telling of the history of this part of Scotland in the style of the sagas.
Victoria (Eve's Alexandria)
I really admired this novel about viking Orkney by the end. Wasn't sure of the style at first, and there were some incongruous moments, but it grew and grew on me. The prose had a beautiful clarity, and the emotional sub-currents were very powerful. I will definitely be looking out for more George Mackay Brown.
Helen McClory
A saga-like story, crisp and compelling, but not exactly what I wanted at the time. My review here:
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George Mackay Brown, the poet, novelist and dramatist, spent his life living in and documenting the Orkney Isles.

A bout of severe measles at the age of 12 became the basis for recurring health problems throughout his life. Uncertain as to his future, he remained in education until 1940, a year which brought with it a growing reality of the war, and the unexpected death of his father. The followin
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