This spirited and at times sinister novel ensnares the reader in a tangled encounter between modern-day Scandinavia and the ancient world of myth. In the 1980s, a hardworking Icelandic businesswoman and her teenage daughter Dis, who has been arrested for apparently committing a strange and senseless robbery, are unwittingly drawn into a ritual-bound world of goddesses, sacrificial priests, golden thrones, clashing crags and kings-in-waiting. It is said that Gunnloth was seduced by Odin so he could win the 'mead' of poetry from her, but is that really true, and why was Dis summoned to their world? The boundaries dissolve and the parallels between Gunnloth's circle and the strange company into which Dis's mother is drawn as she fights to clear Dis's name grow ever closer. The earth-cherishing goddess seems set on a collision course with strategic thinker Odin who has discovered that iron can be extracted from the marshes where she resides, and environmental disaster also looms in the modern context, brought into sharp focus by a shocking world event.
At the same time the novel is a moving, under-the-skin portrait of a mother in crisis, cast into a maelstrom of conflicting emotions by seeing her daughter under arrest and in prison. Dis's father has refused to get involved, claiming he is too busy. Her mother is left to tussle with lawyers and fight to clear Dis's name. She goes to Copenhagen in order to be near the prison where Dis is on remand. The couple's business ambitions for a government contract will be in shreds if the prosecution accuses Dis of involvement with a terrorist group, but on the other hand, how can any mother willingly pursue the option of agreeing that her own daughter is mentally ill? Particularly when she has followed Dis into the depths of legend in her quest for the truth?show more