Thursday 22 September 2022

Book Review: Crossroads (Olav Audunssøn #3) by Sigrid Undset (Historical Fiction)

Title: Crossroads (Olav Audunssøn #3)
Author: Sigrid Undset
Publisher: University of Minnesota Press
Publication Date: 25 October 2022
Pages: 216
Format: eBook - EPUB
Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: ARC via NetGalley
In the early fourteenth century, Norway is a kingdom in political turmoil, struggling with opposing forces within its own borders and drawn into strife with neighboring Sweden and Denmark. Bloody family vendettas and conflicting loyalties sparked by the irrepressible passion of a boy and his foster sister (also his betrothed) have now set in motion a series of terrible consequences—with a legacy of betrayal, murder, and disgrace that will echo down through the generations. Crossroads, the third of Olav Audunssøn’s four volumes, finds Olav heartbroken by loss and further estranged from his son. To escape his grief, Olav leaves his home estate of Hestviken and agrees to serve as captain on a small merchant ship headed to London. There, separated from everything familiar to him, Olav begins a visionary journey that will send him far into the forest and deep into his soul. Questioning past decisions and future plans, Olav must grapple with his own perceptions of love and guilt, sin and penitence, vengeance and forgiveness. 

Set in a time and place where royalty and religion vie for power, and bloodlines and loyalties are law,
Crossroads summons a powerful picture of Northern life in medieval times, as the Swedish Academy noted in awarding Sigrid Undset the Nobel Prize in 1928. Conveying both the intimate drama and epic sweep of Olav’s story as grief and guilt drive him to ever more desperate action, Crossroads is a moving and masterly re-creation of a vanished world tainted by bloodshed and haunted by sin and retribution. 

Having had a bit of a slump with book two, Crossroads revived my interest in the story. I found it more entertaining than the last volume and began to engage with the characters once again, and when I turned the final page I was keen to see how things would end in the fourth volume. I still think Kristin Lavransdatter is a better work overall, but I would also recommend the Olav Audunssøn series to fans of medieval historical fiction. It gets four stars from me.

I received this book as a free eBook ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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