The Exile

Living the Line. Mar. 2023. 192p. adapted by Erik Kriek & Sean Michael Robinson. tr. from Dutch by Erik Kriek & Sean Michael Robinson. ISBN 9781736860526. $40. F
Kriek (The Set-Up) presents an engaging blend of family drama and revenge thriller set in 10th-century Iceland. After seven years in exile as punishment for having committed murder, Hallstein Thordsson returns to the village where he was born, ready to claim his inheritance and spend the rest of his life as a peaceful farmer. He discovers that his father has died during his absence, leaving his stepmother, Solveig, to run their farm alone. It’s not going all that well—she’s besieged by thieves who feel entitled to the bounty found on her land, and under pressure to accept a marriage proposal from Einar Ragnarsson, the brother of the man Hallstein killed. Einar’s actually sponsoring the thieves who have been raiding Solveig’s farm and are in cahoots with her foolish brothers in a conspiracy to take everything she has. When Einar is torn between avenging his brother’s death or allowing his various schemes to continue uninterrupted, his sister Vigdis is spurred to enlist a powerful sorceress to aid her quest for justice.
VERDICT Kriek’s luscious brushwork, attention to detail, and refusal to impose modern notions of morality or justice on his characters result in an immersive, provocative saga.
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