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The Far Traveler: Voyages of a Viking Woman…
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The Far Traveler: Voyages of a Viking Woman (2007)

by Nancy Marie Brown

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Showing 1-5 of 11 (next | show all)
I've been reading this book since the end of March, and I don't really know why I kept avoiding it all these months. I just felt that it was an interesting premise that somehow faltered. There was nothing wrong with the scholarship, or the writing, but it felt disjointed to me as if the author simply didn't know how to construct a narrative.

The story of Gudrid should have been riveting. This is a woman who traveled from her Scandinavian home to Greenland, Iceland, and the area of the Americas known to Vikings as "Vinland," for its wild grapes. In her old age, she made a pilgrimage to Rome and became a nun. But the book goes every which-way, bouncing from her life, to archeological information, to Erik the Red, and back again, never quite allowing the reader to come to know Gudrid on a level where we could feel engaged with her life and adventures. I recognize that there's scant information about her, but what there was could have been better used, in my opinion.

Still, if you're interested in Viking travels to the new world, this book does offer some insights, and that's not a bad thing. ( )
2 vote Tracy_Rowan | Nov 4, 2017 |
This book is bizarre in that the premise is good, the writing is good, but it took me nearly six months to finish which should have been a few days, maybe a week of solid reading. The Far Traveler become my albatross and I couldn't shake myself from its grip. What went wrong?

Simply put, this was not so much the tale of Gudrid rather Gudrid was the weak link for Brown to explore life and time of 10th century Iceland from a woman's perspective. By this I mean you'll be dozens and dozens of pages in with discussion on long house building or Viking weaving technology before you realise Gudrid has not been mentioned, even in passing, once. I learned a lot about Viking age, and this book definitely whetted my appetite to learn more, but I know even less about Gudrid than I did when I started the book - which seemed to defeat the purpose.

Brown admits in the beginning there is scarce information about Gudrid, just a few mentions in the sagas, but if you're going to explore the period of someone's life, shouldn't you at least tie them into the scene? And this is where I think the book failed. Brown had a lot of opportunity to make Gudrid a part of the conversation, and she isn't even a full stop at the end of a sentence.

I originally rated this 5/5 after the first 50 pages, but dropped it down to 3/5 because of the huge issue I had with Gudrid not being front and center.

Additionally, Brown does provide pages and pages of notes, acknowledgements, and sources to further your reading of the period. ( )
1 vote heroineinabook | Jan 17, 2017 |
The Far Traveler is a combination history, biography, and memoir based around the life of Gudrid, an Icelandic woman who travelled to Greenland and beyond over the course of her long life. There are two accounts of Gudrid's experiences, which differ wildly in their details but which when put together allow readers to glean a few basic facts. She was born in Iceland and travelled to Greenland with her father as a young woman. She married a brother of Leif Ericsson and after becoming a widow at 17, journeyed farther west with her new husband and visited Vinland, where she gave birth to a son who was the first known European to be born on American soil. After giving up Vinland and returning to Iceland, Gudrid's travel appeared to be done, but in her old age she later made a pilgrimage to Rome. In the course of telling Gudrid's story, the author also tells the story of the Norse settlement of Iceland and Greenland and what their everyday life was like there, using information both from the sagas and from archaeological findings. We also hear the story of her own summer spent working at an archaeological dig at a farm where Gudrid and her sons may have lived.

All-in-all, it's a solid, accessible work. Highly recommended for anyone interested in Vikings, especially in the lives of Viking women. ( )
  inge87 | Apr 29, 2016 |
This enjoyable book follows Brown's pursuit of the archaeological and literary evidence for the life of Gudrid the Far-Traveller, a remarkable Viking woman who lived in Greenland and Iceland around the year 1000. She was not only one of the first (albeit temporary) settlers in Vinland, on the coast of Newfoundland, but she embarked on an equally adventurous pilgrimage to Rome in later life. Using her life as a lens, Brown examines the Icelandic sagas for evidence of how men and women established colonies in Iceland, Greenland and further west, and what it might actually have been like to live in these harsh, demanding environments. Throughout she draws on the sagas themselves to offer colourful glimpses of Icelandic society, and couples this with the results of modern excavation techniques and research. It's a very enthusiastic and engaging history but (not being a specialist) I did wonder whether some of the sagas were being taken for historical fact when they needed to be addressed with slightly more caution. This slight lack of historical rigour is why I haven't given it a more fulsome rating. However, it's a great introduction to a fascinating woman and I'm very keen to read some more of Brown's books about this period. She's a very passionate guide and evidently knows the sagas inside out (the translations are almost always her own, which is deeply impressive).

For a longer review, please see my blog:
http://theidlewoman.blogspot.co.uk/2013/11/the-far-traveler-nancy-marie-brown.ht... ( )
1 vote TheIdleWoman | Nov 5, 2013 |
This book is great reading and very informative for anyone interested in the medieval world, Vikings, the settlements of Iceland and Greenland by the Vikings, early Viking voyages to North America and the Icelandic sagas. Through the life of a single woman (who does figure in two sagas), Brown explores all of these topics and throws in a bit of archeology lore and trade craft to boot. A great read. ( )
  nmele | Apr 6, 2013 |
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A thousand years ago, an old woman named Gudrid stood on the threshold of her house contemplating her next voyage.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0156033976, Paperback)

Five hundred years before Columbus, a Viking woman named Gudrid sailed off the edge of the known world. She landed in the New World and lived there for three years, giving birth to a baby before sailing home. Or so the Icelandic sagas say. Even after archaeologists found a Viking longhouse in Newfoundland, no one believed that the details of Gudrid’s story were true. Then, in 2001, a team of scientists discovered what may have been this pioneering woman’s last house, buried under a hay field in Iceland, just where the sagas suggested it could be.
 
Joining scientists experimenting with cutting-edge technology and the latest archaeological techniques, and tracing Gudrid’s steps on land and in the sagas, Nancy Marie Brown reconstructs a life that spanned—and expanded—the bounds of the then-known world. She also sheds new light on the society that gave rise to a woman even more extraordinary than legend has painted her and illuminates the reasons for its collapse.




 

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:14 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Five hundred years before Columbus, a Viking woman named Gudrid sailed past the edge of the known world. She landed in the New World and lived there for three years, giving birth to a baby before sailing home. Or so the Icelandic sagas say. Even after archaeologists found a Viking longhouse in Newfoundland, few believed that the details of Gudrid's story were true. Then, in 2001, a team of scientists discovered what may have been this pioneering woman's last house, buried under a hay field in Iceland, just where the sagas suggested it could be. Joining scientists with cutting-edge technology and the latest archaeological techniques, and tracing Gudrid's steps on land and in the sagas, author Brown reconstructs a life that spanned--and expanded--the bounds of the then-known world.--From publisher description.… (more)

» see all 2 descriptions

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