NEARLY a thousand years after his death, Thorfinn Sigurdarson – aka Thorfinn the Mighty, Earl of Orkney – and his wife Ingiborg have been resurrected from their Viking graves.
One of the greatest power-couples of the 11th century is at the centre of historical novelist Lexie Conyngham’s new work of heavily fact-based fiction.
Thorfinn rules over Orkney from his base at Birsay on the north-western tip of the archipelago’s biggest island. It’s a turbulent time for Thorfinn, among the earliest Norse Christians and a man who has completed a personal pilgrimage to Rome; a rival earl, his nephew Rognvald, has been ambushed and slaughtered on Thorfinn’s orders and Rognvald’s surviving loyalists are percolating trouble. The settlement at Birsay – the de facto Orcadian capital – is on alert.
When widowed woolworker Sigrid finds the corpse of a stranger hidden under rocks in a nearby gully a quest to unearth the victim’s identity begins. Where had he come from, and when and why was he killed?
Ketil Gunnarson, formerly of Heithabyr in Denmark and more recently of Norway, has just landed in Orkney claiming to be a trader of carved wooden drinking cups – a rare and precious commodity in a region without trees.
It soon emerges, however, that Ketil – a childhood acquaintance of Sigrid’s – is not a merchant at all but one of Thorfinn’s most trusted assassins, hired for the attack on Rognvald and now back in Orkney many months later on a mission of his own.
Tomb for an Eagle fleshes out accounts of actual people and events recorded in Orkneyinga Saga, a section of the world-famous Icelandic chronicle written on parchment in the late 1300s, Flateyjarbók.
This is the first title in Conyngham’s planned Orkneyinga Murder series. The second book, A Wolf at the Gate, is scheduled for release later in the year.