What did I know about Iceland? More sheep than people, a scarcity of trees, and just about everyone is descended from Vikings. Then my son Eric moved there and married Inga. Suddenly I became more aware of a mythic place and storied society.
There is a layer of the earth’s crust missing under Iceland. The landscape is starkly beautiful and pristine, with the largest glacier in Europe and the geyser that all others are named after. At Thingvellir there is a fifty-foot high wall that is the edge of the European tectonic plate and it is where socially democratic Vikings declared Christianity to be the official religion in 1,000 AD. Harpa, in Reykjavik down near the harbor, is a fabulous concert venue whose spectacular exterior was designed by artist Olafur Eliasson. Most of Iceland’s 320,000 occupants actually are descended from the Viking era Norse who first settled there. Solei means buttercup in Icelandic, there is a traffic circle where a giant Viking sword of stone is thrust into the middle, and I’ve actually eaten hákarl, that infamous Greenland shark meat that’s a year old and never been cooked.
Eric and Inga gave me an anthology of the Icelandic sagas, accounts of intrepid adventurers, blood feuds, and history. Among these stories I discovered a young woman who knew how to push the limits. She survived when strong men died and earned the name Far Traveler. She was a teen for the ages. My YA novel about her is called I Am Gudrid. Ask me about it.