One Viking woman. One God. One legendary journey to North America.
In the tenth century, when pagan holy women rule the Viking lands, Gudrid turns her back on her training as a seeress to embrace Christianity. Clinging to her faith, she joins her husband, Finn, on a voyage to North America.
But even as Gudrid faces down murderous crewmen, raging sickness, and hostile natives, she realizes her greatest enemy is herself--and the secrets she hides might just tear her marriage apart.
Almost five centuries before Columbus, Viking women sailed to North America with their husbands. GOD'S DAUGHTER, Book One in the Vikings of the New World Saga, offers an expansive yet intimate look into the world of Gudrid Thorbjarnardottir--daughter-in-law of Erik the Red, and the first documented European woman to have a child in North America.
The gods only accept what is valuable.
Gudrid repeated this to herself as they hoisted her mother into the tree. Her beautiful mother with the long shining hair, like her own.
Her cousin, Yngvild, touched her hand. Not a word was spoken, from anyone. No one could believe a young mother would die for the required nine-year sacrifice, along with the expected slaves and animals. But the chieftain had ordered it. And the chieftain was her father.
Gudrid's aunt hunched over, sobbing into her sleeves. Uncle Thorgeir did not even look at the tree. He seemed happy to gain more control of her mother’s family farm.
Gudrid clenched her fists on her shift, bunching it so tightly she felt she could rip it apart. She longed to fight the men who would drop the ladder, breaking her mother’s neck. But interrupting a sacrifice to Thor was punishable by death—the immediate death of hanging.
The sprawling, twisted tree loomed like a giant against the gray Icelandic sky, its limbs clutching at the dangling dead animals and people. Gudrid imagined the tree held them back from dropping straight into Helheim. Truly, Mother should go straight to Valhalla for being a willing sacrifice. But only the men who died bravely in battle got to go there, to drink endless mead for eternity.
Her father blew the ram’s horn, and a slave kicked the ladder out. For one second, Father’s eyes glazed over, as if he was far away. Even though he was devoted to Mother, he believed the only way to restore the bounty of the farm, failing since he had charge of it, was to give up the one thing he really cared about.
Mother’s face went slack and lost color. Gudrid was strangely thankful that she did not turn blue, with her eyes bulging, as some of the slaves had. It meant she died quickly, as a perfect sacrifice should.
Gudrid looked around, aware she needed a protector. Even at eleven years old, she understood this. Father had never wanted a girl. Her aunt was too grief-stricken—she would barely be able to care for her own children now, after watching her sister die.
Orm’s sad gaze met her own. He was a neighbor from a nearby farm, on a cliff overlooking the shoreline. His wife, Halldis, was a volva, a seeress who knew magic. Gudrid refused to look at her. She did not want to see the eyes of the woman who had told Father he needed such a significant sacrifice this year.
The last body was hanged, and another volva led a chant with the drum. Since many slaves had been killed, their families began to sing quietly in their own languages. As the words clashed, each group sang louder and louder. It was the only time they sang publicly.
Gudrid felt her insides burning, down to the core, like the volcanoes on this island. Anger and loneliness forced her from her seat. She hated Thor and anything to do with him. She groped for her knife before raising it to her throat. Then she charged straight for her father.
Heather Day Gilbert enjoys writing stories about authentic, believable marriages. Sixteen years of marriage to her sweet Yankee husband have given her some perspective, as well as ten years spent homeschooling her three children. Heather regularly posts on Novel Rocket about self-publishing.
You can find out more about Heather on her website here.
5-Star Review from Kristi Lindsey for Readers' Favorite.
"Gudrid is a protagonist that any woman can identify with and relate to...God's Daughter is not a frivolous or blithe novel, but a richly detailed one, a tale meant to be savored and revisited time and time again." ~ full review here: readersfavorite.com/book-review/14284
"Vivid, powerful...triumphant. This story took me by the heart."
~ Joanne Bischof, award-winning author of the Cadence of Grace series
"God's Daughter offers a brave, fresh look at a lost way of life and the Vikings who left an indelible mark in history. Author Heather Gilbert weaves a riveting novel with unforgettable characters and circumstances, the first installment in a series sure to resonate with historical fans. The stunning cover is only the beginning!"
~ Laura Frantz, Christy finalist and author of Love's Reckoning
Why did Heather write this novel?
I wrote God's Daughter primarily because of my interest in my heritage. I am (allegedly) related to Eirik the Red, and I bought a book of the Icelandic Sagas to study up on his family. As I read about it, I was fascinated by a Christian Viking woman named Gudrid, who sailed with her third husband to North America. I wanted to tell her story'
Tell us something topical, interesting, funny, or something we would not expect about the writing or research of this novel.
As I researched this book, it became clear to me how powerful women were in Viking culture. The pagan priestesses wielded power, and yet their practices were more harmful than helpful (child exposure, etc). I was surprised how Christianity actually changed the practices of this entire people group for the better, and I wanted to highlight that.