Ranald's father owns a cargo vessel. To escape the old skipper's violent outbursts, young Ranald jumps ship in Iceland and stows away in a craft commanded by Leif Ericson and bound for America (the Vinland of the title, with its excellent grapes). There the indigenous Indians are friendly until one of them is slain by a bellicose Northman: retreating into the forest, they wage a guerrilla war and force the dispirited Greenlanders to embark for home again.
Ranald is to remain obsessed by Vinland until his death. He returns to Greenland with Ericson and, in subsequent adventures, finds favour at the royal court of Norway, partakes in a terrible battle, marries, procreates and finally retires, disillusioned with humanity, to contemplate the new Christianity and plan a final voyage to the West.
In keeping with the Nordic subject matter, Mackay Brown's 'poetic' rhythms sometimes read like chunks of alliterative Germanic epic verse. But the digressive story is not compelling enough to sustain one's interest. If you want a ripping yarn and a clutter of difficult Nordic names, try Beowulf instead.Reuse content