Ashley's Reviews > The Axe

The Axe by Sigrid Undset
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's review
Jan 20, 2010

really liked it

I'd give this five stars if it was a better translation. Unlike Tina Nunnally's recent translation of Kristin Lavransdatter, this one by Charles Chater from 1928 was a bit archaic (words like "meseems" and "I trow" kind of bug me.) Nevertheless, it was still an intense and moving story--and it's only Part I.

It's set in the late 1200s in Norway, and is the story of Olav and Ingunn's struggle to validate their betrothal. Again I'm struck by the intriguing mix of pagan traditions, Christianity, and a culture where laws are new and manslaughter common--especially as retribution for any wrong done to a family. And the characters are well-developed--both Olav and Ingunn have the best intentions, but are flawed and make mistakes. Olav struggles as an orphan to make his way in the world while Ingunn can do nothing but wait for him. The role of women is also interesting--their virtue and chastity are valued only because of the honor they would bring to a man, and Ingunn has no identity outside of being someone's daughter, wife, or kinswoman. And murder is more acceptable than a woman caught in adultery. Ingunn is treated harshly for her choices, but Olav's ending decision makes me excited to read the next volume.
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Reading Progress

January 20, 2010 – Started Reading
January 20, 2010 – Shelved
Finished Reading

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