Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)


Hestviken. Olav Audunssøn’s ancestral home—a cold, isolated place on a rugged Norwegian landscape of rocky promontories and pounding fjord waves. Olav secretly carries bowls of ale out to an old Viking burial mound on his property to honor an adventurous ancestor. This practice demonstrates his longing for release from the constraints of his confining life.

Eirik, Olav’s heir apparent to the estate, covets Hestviken’s land and buildings and reacts with anger and jealousy to any perceived threats to his right to inherit them. However, Eirik fails to perform his share of farm work, and household workers make fun of his lies and boasting.


Rundmyr. Farm near Hestviken that is overseen by Olav and occupied by the mentally deficient Arnketil and the corrupt Liv. A “den of iniquity,” this site of slovenliness, thievery, and profligacy contributes to the corruption of Eirik. Olav can reform neither the farm nor Eirik’s character.

Torhild Björnsdatter’s farm

Torhild Björnsdatter’s farm. Home of Olav’s former mistress at Auken. Contrasting completely with Rundmyr, this household is a place of virtue and accomplishment. Olav twice crosses the fjord to visit it, and each time is favorably impressed by Torhild’s hard work and resourcefulness in managing the property. When Swedes invade Norway, the women of Hestviken flee to Torhild’s farm for...

(The entire section is 412 words.)