People of the Songtrail by W. Michael Gear and Kathleen O’Neal Gear

People of the Songtrail by W. Michael Gear and Kathleen O’Neal Gear
Publisher: Tor Books
Genre: Action/Adventure, Historical, Mystery/Suspense
Length: Full Length (342 pages)
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed by Myrtle

On the shores of the sparsely populated American wilderness, a small group of intrepid settlers have landed, seeking freedom to worship and prosper far from the religious strife and political upheaval that plague a war-ridden Europe . . .

500 years before Columbus set sail.

While it has long been known that Viking ships explored the American coast, recent archaeological evidence suggests a far more vast and permanent settlement. It is from this evidence that archaeologists and early American history experts Kathy and Michael Gear weave their extraordinary tale.

People of the Songtrail is the saga of the first European settlers to land on the shores of the new world. It is a story, like so many in America’s history, of the swift and violent clash of cultures, and extraordinary men and women on both sides who are brave enough to work for the fragile hope of peace. A story that has remained untold, until now.

Five Hundred years before Columbus, the Vikings set sail. When they landed and met Native Americans, both worlds changed forever, but none more so than young Thyra, an accomplished practitioner of Odin magic.

The year is A.D. 1002, and warfare has broken out in Europe after King Aethelred’s slaughter of the Danish part of England, the Danelaw. In the midst of the turmoil, a great Viking seeress is kidnapped and her young daughter, Thyra, enslaved.

Thirteen years later, Thyra finds herself aboard a Viking ship filled with colonists headed to Vinland. Though she is a thrall to the wicked Thorlak the Lawspeaker, Thyra has been learning the skills of the Darkness-Riders, powerful practitioners of Odin magic. Her goal is to find her mother. As the mystery of who abducted her mother and what happened to her unfolds, it becomes clear Thyra is not the only person trying to find the legendary Vethild. In England, King Aethelred’s son, Edmund, is massing forces to seize his father’s throne, and the Danish king is just waiting for the clash so he can attack and take England as his own. All sides want Vethild. Some want her alive. Some want her dead.

The story includes majestic descriptions of crossing the ocean during the Medieval Warm Period, a dramatic period of global warming, and murderous confrontations between North America’s native peoples and Vikings. The violence is softened by touches of mysticism and magic that enhance the plot.

The thread that binds the story together is the growing romance between the young Anchorite slave, Kiran, and Thyra. But two of the most complex and interesting characters are the rough-hewn former criminal, Godi Gunnar, and a tenderhearted Native American shaman, old Asson. Asson’s people, the People of the Songtrail, know they must defeat the Viking invaders or they will never be safe.

This marvelous story also features a Glossary of Terms, which is helpful with the Norse terminology used throughout the book.

If you enjoy historical fiction featuring ancient cultures in the American wilderness or sailing the sea with Norsemen, then this story of first contact between Native Americans and Vikings is an absolute must-read!


  1. Special thanks to Myrtle for a careful and thoughtful review. We appreciate it!

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