The Sea Road, Paperback Book
4.5 out of 5 (4 ratings)


A haunting, compelling historical novel, The Sea Road is a daring re-telling of the 11th-century Viking exploration of the North Atlantic from the viewpoint of one extraordinary woman.

Gudrid lives at the remote edge of the known world, in a starkly beautiful landscape where the sea is the only connection to the shores beyond.

It is a world where the old Norse gods are still invoked, even as Christianity gains favour, where the spirits of the dead roam the vast northern ice-fields, tormenting the living, and Viking explorers plunder foreign shores.

Taking the accidental discovery of North America as its focal point, Gudrid's narrative describes a multi-layered voyage into the unknown, all recounted with astonishing immediacy and rich atmospheric detail.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 256 pages, map
  • Publisher: Canongate Books Ltd
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Historical fiction
  • ISBN: 9781841951768

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Showing 1 - 4 of 4 reviews.

Review by

This is a book I will read again and I highly recommend it for High School ages through adults. It is the story of the life and travels of the Viking age woman explorer, Gudrid of Iceland. The characters and events are based on accounts of events in the Icelandic sagas: Eirik’s Saga, Graenlendinga Saga and Eyrbyggja Saga. She was the most traveled woman of the world in the Viking age, having traveled from Iceland and Norway to Greenland and North America and then on to Rome. The book is written as the dictation of the elderly Gudrid in Rome, to a young monk originally from Iceland. The author’s prose weaves details of the everyday, the spiritual and the geographical environment into an outstanding historical novel. Anyone who has ever lived in and appreciated the beauty of the North will love to read this. Several times I stopped and re-read passages in this book because of not only the depiction of the natural world but because of the literary beauty of it. That is a rare thing for me. I am very interested in reading her other works after reading this.

Review by

The Sea Road by Margaret Elphinstone - a retelling of events from the Icelandic sagas, that was recommended by several people on a holiday in Iceland.I finished this book today, having read it in double-quick time as I found it very hard to put down. "The Sea Road" is the story of the travels of Gudrid, an 11th century Viking woman born in pagan Iceland. She went to live in Greenland before going on a voyage to Vinland, where she became the mother of the first European child to be born in America. The story is framed by her pilgrimage to Rome as an old woman, where she tells her story to an Icelandic monk called Agnar, who writes down a Latin translation for a cardinal.It is a re-telling of happenings from several of the Icelandic Sagas as the Vikings explore the lands of the Northern Atlantic. As the sagas are rather minimalist in their story-telling style, they lend themselves well to being re-told, as the novelist has room to flesh events out, without changing the basic story. I enjoyed the way that the story was told to the monk, with Gudrid's digressions into how warm it was in Italy and her questioning of Agnar about his life and various theological issues. He never writes down his answers, so you just get her question, a row of asterisks and then her reactions to whatever he has said. This is a surprisingly effective technique.

Review by

I have enjoyed reading this book a lot. I read another book not so long ago that almost completely overlapped this one in subject, but was nowwhere near as good. Gudrid felt like a very real and likeable woman to me by the end. I liked her a lot and could really believe everything she had to say.

Review by

This book promised more than it delivered. I wasn't looking for a summary of Gudrid's life; I was expecting more of her journeys, perhaps touching on her life story. I was glad there was at least something on Vinland. I did revel in any physical descriptions of Icelnd, Greenland, and Vinland. They were beautiful.

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