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The initial volume in the Nobel Prize–winning author’s tumultuous, epic story of medieval Norway—the first new English translation in nearly a century
As a child, Olav Audunssøn is given by his dying father to an old friend, Steinfinn Toressøn, who rashly promises to raise the boy as his foster son and eventually marry him to his own daughter, Ingunn. The two children, very different in temperament, become both brother and sister and betrothed. In the turbulent thirteenth-century Norway of Sigrid Undset’s epic masterpiece, bloodlines and loyalties often supersede law, and the crown and the church vie for power and wealth. Against this background and the complicated relationship between Olav and Ingunn, a series of fateful decisions leads to murder, betrayal, exile, and disgrace. In Vows, the first book in the powerful Olav Audunssøn tetralogy, Undset presents a richly imagined world split between pagan codes of retribution and the constraints of Christian piety—all of which threaten to destroy the lives of two young people torn between desires of the heart and the dictates of family and fortune.
As she did when writing her earlier and bestselling epic Kristin Lavransdatter, Sigrid Undset immersed herself in the legal, religious, and historical documents of medieval Norway to create in Olav Audunssøn remarkably authentic and compelling portraits of Norwegian life in the Middle Ages. In this new English edition, renowned Scandinavian translator Tiina Nunnally again captures Undset’s fluid prose, conveying in an engaging lyrical style the natural world, complex culture, and fraught emotional territory of Olav and Ingunn’s dramatic story.