Vinland follows the turbulent life of Ranald Sigmundson, a young boy born into the Dark Ages when Orkney was torn
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Vinland follows the turbulent life of Ranald Sigmundson, a young boy born into the Dark Ages when Orkney was torn between its Viking past and its Christian future. Struggling to understand the conflicts of his home, Ranald seeks adventure and knowledge across the seas, his journeys taking him as far as Norway, Iceland and Ireland. Through Ranald’s story, many elements of early mediaeval life – of seamanship, marriage customs, beliefs and traditions – are brought vibrantly to life, and the traditional poetry interwoven through the prose adds a richness and poignancy to the tales he tells.
In Vinland, Mackay Brown’s fourth novel, lore and legend, the elementary pull of the sea and the land, the sweetness of the early religion and the darker, more ancient rites, create an exquisite celebration of Orcadian history.
George Mackay Brown (1921–96) was one of the twentieth century’s most distinguished and original writers. His lifelong inspiration and birthplace, Stromness in Orkney, moulded his view of the world, though he studied in Edinburgh and later at Newbattle Abbey College. In 1941 he was diagnosed with pulmonary tuberculosis and lived an increasingly reclusive life in Stromness, but he produced a regular stream of publications from 1954 onwards. These included A Calendar of Love (1967), A Time to Keep (1969), Greenvoe (1972), Hawkfall (1974), and, notably, the novel Beside the Ocean of Time (1994), which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize and won the Saltire Book of the Year.