Hammer of the North.

Title Hammer of the North.
Publication TypeThesis
Year of Publication2004
AuthorsBoush, Samuel M.
Academic DepartmentEnglish
Thesis AdvisorDaugherty, Tracy
DegreeHonors Baccalaureate in International Studies in English
Number of Pages627
Date Published05/2004
UniversityOregon State University
Thesis TypeUndergraduate
KeywordsIreland, Norwegian, Novel, Viking

Hammer of the North recounts the epic tale of the Viking invasions of Ireland, and of Eochaid, a young Irishman, who struggles for freedom from slavery in ninth-century Norway.

The night Eochaid's wife dies in childbirth he decides to take his own life. Furious at God and disgusted with his warrior past, Eochaid hurls his sword into the River Shannon, then dives in after it, not expecting to survive. But two days later, bloodied and battered, he wakes on the banks of an island at the mouth of the river just minutes before a Viking raid.

One of those among the Vikings is Ragnar Fishbeard. A young Norwegian on his first sea-voyage, Ragnar watches his countrymen's violence with horror as they ransack the monasteries on the island, butcher the monks, and steal their cattle. Only when Eochaid, unarmed and desperate, confronts Ragnar on the riverbank, does the Norwegian rouse himself enough to defeat the Irishman and take him as a thrall.

When Eochaid wakes, tied up on a Viking longboat, his survival instincts win over his earlier desire kill himself. Now, the twenty-two-year-old exhibits the determination and resourcefulness that helped him endure half of a lifetime as a battle-leader for the Dal Cais, his clan. Eochaid survives a grueling storm across the North Sea, escapes and kills three men in a bar fight once in port, only to be recaptured by Ragnar's arrogant, malicious brother, Njal.

Once in Norway, Eochaid finds himself truly in thralldom. Under the lash of a cruel slave boss,
Eochaid toils at planting and harvesting his masters' crops, though he tries many times to escape.

Even as he battles cattle thieves, his masters, and icy pond water to save the life of a small boy,
Eochaid obsesses over his own freedom.. . until he meets Snefrid. The courage of this fierce slave-girl, who rescues Eochaid from the bottom of the frozen pond, resurrects emotions within him that he has not felt since the death of his wife-emotions that he struggles unsuccessfully to repress. Though he never forgets his desire for freedom, Eochaid finds that his feelings for Snefrid and the daughter they have together make him want to stay, rather than return to an Ireland that has nothing left for him.