Sullivan’s story is a sprightly saga of Queen
Asa and her burial ship. The ship is
quite real and so was the queen. The
Osberg ship, dating from 834, was discovered in 1904-1905 by Norwegian
archeologist Haakon Shetelig and Swedish archeologist Gabriel Gustafson. Sullivan crafts his story in two time frames,
both with strong female characters. In
the 800’s he tells the saga of Queen Asa of Agthur, a beautiful woman, whose
father had the choice of many suitors.
King Harald of Granraude selected Erik of Horthaland for his daughter,
rejecting Guthroth the Viking King.
Rejecting Vikings is dangerous; they do not take it well. Guthroth kills
Asa’s family, sails her to his island home and forces her to be his bride. Queen Asa swears revenge. Her saga is full of drama: elaborate dragon
boats, battles, love stories, betrayal, and the ambitious campaign to unite a
country. Queen Asa is a fiery, strong
character. When she next meets Erik, he
asks a sacrifice she is unwilling to make.
This period is rich in Norwegian history; conflicts, new rules of law,
and the bringing together of a nation. Sullivan includes historical detail while
keeping the saga entertaining. In 1904
Sullivan gives us a fictional American archeologist, Dr. Kirstin Williams,
involved in the discovery of the Burial mound of the Dragon Longboat. Her colleagues are thrown for a loop. They wanted her father and are not at all
comfortable when a woman arrives! The longboat is causing a great deal of
speculation and consternation too, it holds the skeletons of two women; there
is no precedent for a woman buried in such a massive longboat. Kristin faces many challenges beyond the
discomfort of her fellow archeologists. Sullivan’s writing is lively, he makes
the stories of both women, in 825 and 1904, compelling.