Who can forge her own path
when shackled as pawn to a tyrant?
Such is the fate of point-of-view character Jorunn,
a lowly woodcutter’s daughter,
and unwilling sidekick to--
High-born Gyda Eiriksdotter, loveliest maiden in all Norway,
according to the Heimskringla saga.
In the troll-haunted mountains of ninth century Norway,
ambitious Gyda sets off an avalanche of social change
across all the lands of the Norse.
Jorunn’s small saga plays out in the shadow
of semi-legendary kings and warriors.
She hungers for freedom from service
to sharp-tongued, sharp-witted Gyda.
When trolls snatch Gyda and carry her within the mountain,
Jorunn passes up her chance to run free.
Armed only with woodslore, folklore and a magic key,
she plunges into the realm of trolls
to rescue her demanding and dismissive mistress.
By tale’s end, Jorunn gains a backbone and her freedom.
Haughty king’s daughter Gyda at last pays heed
to the rustic wisdom of common folk.
Cast out on her own, battered by icy winds and stalked by forest trolls,
Jorunn begs shelter at a mead-hall further up the dale.
Once she finds a safe haven, she’ll dash back to the hovel of her cruel father
to rescue the younger sister she’d left behind.
At the mead-hall, a Yuletide guest tramples those plans.
Gyda Eiriksdottir--the loveliest maiden in all the small kingdoms of ninth-century Norway--
conscripts Jorunn into service, treating her no better than a slave.
"I'm not a thrall," the homely woodcutter’s daughter keeps telling her haughty new mistress.
The Fates foil every attempt of Jorunn's to break free.
"Your strand entwines with Gyda’s," comes a cryptic message from the Norns.
"There's a knot in her life-thread you must untangle."
When Gyda departs for home in the north, Jorunn can’t escape being dragged along,
heartsick at failing to sweep her sister to safety.
On their travels, sleighing over fjord and fjell, they encounter young King Harald of Vestfold.
To Jorunn the charismatic warrior seems to have stepped straight out of legend.
She watches him fall for her lovely mistress, but Gyda steels herself against his charm.
The drive of her life is a nation-building ambition
that soars to a scale Harald can't at first seem to grasp.
Before Jorunn’s eyes plays out a saga* that will ring down the ages.
Gyda’s rebuff of Harald sets in motion one of the greatest social upheavals in the history of the North.
Turmoil roils in Jorunn's heart as well when her mistress is snatched by trolls.
Should she flee home for her sister’s sake?
Or plunge into the realm of trolls to save Gyda from a horrid fate?
* The Heimskringla