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The Master of Hestviken

(The Master of Hestviken #1-4)

4.32  ·  Rating details ·  175 ratings  ·  15 reviews
Paperback, 994 pages
Published 1978 by Plume (first published 1927)
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Mollie Osborne As happens so often in novels written before our overtly sexualized times, most authors were pretty subtle about sexual intercourse in their stories. …moreAs happens so often in novels written before our overtly sexualized times, most authors were pretty subtle about sexual intercourse in their stories. Sigrid Undset included. :)(less)

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Jan 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It is very hard to do justice to the magnificence of The Master of Hestviken. And there is no question that Sigrid Undset totally deserved the Nobel Prize that she was awarded in 1928. The M of H is a tetralogy in about 1000 pages. Believe it or not, I first read it way over 55 years ago when this bookish teen found the one-volume Knopf edition on the library shelves. And it lasts! The grip was a real grip - a golden hook, and not just an old rusty one destined to disappoint. Indeed, the M of H ...more
Chris Zull
Oct 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sigrid Undset, winner of the Nobel Prize for literature in 1928, seems to have been largely forgotten in America. And that is truly a shame. While she experienced success in her native Norway with her early modern novels, it his her pair of Medieval epics, "Kristin Lavransdatter" and "Master of Hestviken" (the latter was published as "Olav Audunsson" in Norway; its English translation was given the the title seen above. More marketable to American readers that way, I suppose was the logic) that ...more
This book is actually a series of four: The Axe, The Snakepit, In the Wilderness, and The Son Avenger. It's the tale of the life of Olav Audunsson, a member of the landed gentry in late 13th century Norway. It's very long and filled with plenty of beautifully written detail about medieval life in Norway. The main concerns of the book seem to be the ways in which a man's sins can shape his life, and about the balance of good and bad in a person's character. The story also explores to a lesser deg ...more
Mar 31, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sigrid is an AMAZING epic tale weaver--this series is like the "Kristin Lavransdatter" series--so incredibly freaking GOOD. I NEVER get tired of her writing!! I spend my free time on a quest for books like these. Elusive.... ...more
Jan 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Oct 16, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an amazing book. I read it 20 years ago and still the emotions attached to it are haunting. SUCH a picture of a faraway world.

One bit I liked:

When he had finished his prayers, he seated himself in a corner to hear the singing to the end. He thought of what Asbjorn had told him one day of the art of reckoning - how the nature of God was revealed in figures, through the law and order that reigned in them. Arithmetica , he thought it had such a fine sound and all that the priest had expou
Jan 17, 2009 rated it really liked it
four novels in one binding - the first one is really cool, has lots of violence/action parts, talks about honor, interesting look at nordic traditions, cool plot developments. with all the talking about honor, family names, one's house, etc, it reminds one of all of those klingon episodes on star trek next generation. in contrast, books 2 and 3 are brutally slow and depressing, and while things start to pick up at the end of book 3 and beginning of book 4, the final act feels a bit anticlimactic ...more
This is a novel in 4 parts, and I have only read part 1 "The Axe" so far (separate review). I am so reluctant to put this down, because it is excellent. But I have to finish The Brothers Karamazov before a book club meeting, and it was a little insane to try to read this one at the same time. But I will definitely come back and finish the other three parts. It is classic Undset-- beautifully written, gripping, challenging. An epic with deep insight into human nature. So far, I do not like this a ...more
Victoria Jackson
Consists of 4 novels - The Axe, The Snake Pit, In the Wilderness and The Son Avenger. The first book is action packed from start to finish - a bloodthirsty tale of seduction, revenge and thwarted love - themes carried on throughout. The novels trace the life of the hero Olav and his family. Very strong narrative and characterisation, with immense detail on working a huge family estate in 13th Century Norway. Conflict between his religious faith and a deed committed early in his life haunts him f ...more
Feb 17, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ok so I didn't actually finish it... I kind of skipped ahead to the end, near the end of the third book. The ending is much more hopeful than Kristin Lavransdatter and for that I am thankful.

3 stars because the parts that are good are amazingly excellent but it was just too dense to read for fun at this point for me.

I'd recommend it to anyone doing their masters or PhD in Lit, Religion or Norse history.
May 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Undset knows how to get across the fact that choices we make in our youth affect our days. Another Norwegian medieval tale.
Aug 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This volume includes The Ax, The Snake Pit, In the Wilderness, and The Son Avenger. Although a bit dark, I enjoyed these tales tremendously and find Sigrid Undset to be a master story teller.
Somehow I got distracted while reading this fabulous book. I will return to it. Undset creates an entire world deep characters.
Nobel Prize edition, pub. 1934. Not quite gently used but lovely color of binding.
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Undset was born in Kalundborg, Denmark, but her family moved to Norway when she was two years old. In 1924, she converted to Catholicism and became a lay Dominican. She fled Norway in 1940 because of her opposition to Nazi Germany and the German occupation, but returned after the end of World War II in 1945.

Sigrid Undset received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1928. Most of the praise was for h

Other books in the series

The Master of Hestviken (5 books)
  • The Axe (The Master of Hestviken, #1)
  • The Snake Pit (The Master of Hestviken, #2)
  • In the Wilderness (The Master of Hestviken, #3)
  • The Son Avenger (The Master of Hestviken, #4)
  • unknown book

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