Set in the Orkneys on the fictitious island of Norday, a young poet daydreams the history of the island and its people. He travels back in time to Viking adventures at the court of the Byzantine Emperor in Constantinople. Part of the 1995 Scottish Book Fortnight promotion.
An exquisitely written tale of life in a remote Orcadian community. The prose is as clear as Arctic waters while the themes it expresses are deep and universal. The story concerns the literal and emotional voyage of Thornfinn Ragnarson into the world from his home in the fictitious island of Norday. It is a time of cataclysmic upheavals in the world, the unavoidable 20th century is making its presence felt on a set of people whose lives are steeped in ritual and custom. Thornfinn sees action in World War II and is captured by the Germans. His confinement in the prisoner of war camp paradoxically unlocks the man's talents as a writer. Return to his island proves less a restoration of his old life than an occasion of new and unexpected discoveries. Booker Prize shortlist 1994. (Kirkus UK)