Olav Audunsson, the master of Hestviken. Now married to Ingunn and returned, for the first time since the age of seven, to his home of Hestviken, he finds that the concealing of his murder of Ingunn’s lover Teit, which is necessary to protect Ingunn from shame, becomes increasingly burdensome. After her death, Olav must still keep her reputation spotless for the sake of his daughter.
Ingunn Steinfinnsdatter, Olav’s wife, once beautiful but now frail and sickly. After she has four stillborn children, Olav brings to Hestviken from a foster home her son Eirik, whom he claims as his. Olav regrets the decision when Ingunn gives birth to a boy, Audun, now defrauded of his birthright. Audun is sickly and lives only a short time. Ingunn herself dies after giving birth to another child, a daughter.
Eirik, Ingunn’s son by Teit. At first fond of his supposed father Olav, Eirik comes to dislike him after Olav’s manner becomes harsh and aloof.
Cecilia Olavsdatter, the daughter of Olav and Ingunn.
Audun Olavsson, the short-lived son of Olav and Ingunn.
Torhild Björnsdatter, the housekeeper at Hestviken. After she bears Olav’s son, Olav gives her a farm for her own.
Björn, the illegitimate son of Torhild and Olav.
Olav Half-Priest, an aged kinsman of Olav Audunsson. Hestviken deteriorated somewhat under his stewardship during the years before Olav Audunsson’s return.
Tora, Ingunn’s sister, now widowed.
Jon Steinfinnsson, Ingunn’s brother. After his death, Olav goes north to collect Ingunn’s share of Jon’s goods. Olav brings Eirik back to Hestviken on his return.
Arnvid Finnsson, an old friend of Olav and Ingunn. He is about to enter the order of the Preaching Friars. Olav unburdens his guilt to Arnvid, who can say little to comfort his friend.