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Publication Date
30 May 2005
Available for Sale
Birlinn Ltd
Age Range
Dark Ages


by George Mackay Brown - Find out more about the author

‘George Mackay Brown finds more diversity of subject and mood in these islands than most writers would see in a city street. He evokes nature constantly, but naturally, with ease and no pretension. His images are stark, carefully placed, and exact . . . A precise, poetic and dazzling writer’ – The Guardian

‘Mackay Brown enters instinctively into the lives of his characters with exhilarating sureness of touch. A fascinating emotional odyssey, a novel with tone and integrity which cuts surprisingly deep’ – David Robson,Sunday Telegraph

‘Abundant knowledge of lore and legend, skills of seamanship and husbandry weave through the text, like strands in a magic carpet. Entirely delightful’ – Tom Adair, Scotland on Sunday

Vinland follows the turbulent life of Ranald Sigmundson, a young boy born into the Dark Ages when Orkney was torn between its Viking past and its Christian future. Struggling to understand the conflicts of his home, Ranald seeks adventure and knowledge across the seas, his journeys taking him as far as Norway, Iceland and Ireland. Through Ranald’s story, many elements of early mediaeval life – of seamanship, marriage customs, beliefs and traditions – are brought vibrantly to life, and the traditional poetry interwoven through the prose adds a richness and poignancy to the tales he tells.

In Vinland, Mackay Brown’s fourth novel, lore and legend, the elementary pull of the sea and the land, the sweetness of the early religion and the darker, more ancient rites, create an exquisite celebration of Orcadian history.

George Mackay Brown is one the major Scottish literary figures of the 20th century. A prolific poet and novelist, he took much of his inspiration from the myths and landscape of Orkney, and also from his deep Catholic faith. His collection of short stories A Time to Keep (1971) won the Katherine Mansfield Mentor short story prize, while Beside the Ocean of Time was shortlisted for the 1994 Booker prize; he was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 1977. He died in 1996.

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