I have known of Lars Walker for many years (I’m sure he has no idea I exist) and have always respected him. His job is super cool - he is the librarian for the Bible School I attended. I don’t know why it never occurred to me to pick up one of his books. Chalk it up to familiarity (not the kind that breeds contempt though), or possibly ignorance of the subjects he wrote about. I finally decided I ought to read something he had written so I chose West Oversea. Side note: West Oversea is in the middle of a series. Sigh. I should’ve done a little more research…
When Father Aillil, an Irish priest living in Norway in the year 1001, learns his sister may be a slave in Greenland, he makes up his mind to find her and attempt to buy her freedom. Father Aillil joins Erling Skalgsson and his men on an epic seafaring journey which takes them to Iceland, Vineland, a land with no name, and finally Greenland. Along the way they encounter many things both strange and mysterious. Father Aillil finds his faith tested in unexpected ways and he must decide to practice what he preaches.
Once I started this book and learned it’s rhythms, I found I couldn’t put it down. Told in a sweeping style that reminds me of other epic sagas, West Oversea really worked for me. If you like Norse tales of adventure and derring-do, you will love this book. I plan to go back and work my way through the beginning of the saga.
Quotable: “Any way of living that teaches a man to value giving over getting must have some virtue in it.”
Cautions and Caveats: Walker doesn’t pull any punches about life in this recently Christianized Norway. This book contained some bad language, gory battle scenes, and some Norse mythology/magical elements.