Carla Nayland






Lulu, 2006
Reviewed by Joy Calderwood


Gyrdan intends to depart the castle of the cruel Lord Radwulf of Carlundy as quickly and with as few injuries as he can. He doesn’t plan to take Radwulf’s mad wife along. But as observant as Gyrdan is, he can’t help but notice that Irinya isn’t really insane. Radwulf has been spreading stories to discredit the daughter and true heir of Lord Ingeld.

Radwulf’s desire to recapture Gyrdan takes on a new level of urgency now that he has Irinya with him. A hair-raising series of adventures later, Gyrdan and Irinya cross the border into Billand and join forces with Gyrdan’s friend and fellow soldier, Fastred. The people of Carlundy obviously need to be rescued from Radwulf’s clutches, and they mean to do it. Irinya must prove not only that she can lead a successful rebellion, but that she will improve the lives of her people afterwards. Both noble and peasant are understandably mistrustful after so many years of Radwulf’s lies and corruption.

The pace rarely slackens in this extended adventure. Whenever the action slows down, there are colorful, well-rounded characters to keep our attention glued with their personal desires. Gyrdan is an impressive hero with many secrets; Irinya is movingly vulnerable, yet responsible and intelligent. Colorful people gather around them. The gorgeous Fastred attracts women like a magnet; he finds a mate who will take readers’ breaths away. Fastred’s servants, the caretaking Rose and adolescent Corin, have satisfying stories. Radwulf’s lords (it would be too much to call some of them “nobles”) have serious decisions to make: each of the leaders we know best must decide according to his own distinct reasons.

INGELD’S DAUGHTER is laced with humor. It may be satire, or clever wording, or something incongruous that ambushes us. An example is the viewpoint of the prisoners after the Battle of Eagle Crag, which kept tickling me until I finally cracked up. Laughter leavens these serious adventures and keeps us from succumbing to adrenaline excess.

Author Carla Nayland says in her introduction that she wanted to write a historical novel, but the historical events she wanted to use took place in different eras. She had to invent a land in which the separate story elements could be gathered together. My impression of INGELD’S DAUGHTER is entirely different. Nayland’s people are so much themselves, and their experiences so personal, that it would require hard thought to identify most of their sources. On the other hand, the events clearly take place in renamed Scotland and northern England. Carlundy combines a Hills culture and a Lowland culture, still medieval and clan-based. Billand is a rich, mercantile monarchy to the south, where the rule of law has taken a good hold. A Carlundy native even refers once to Southerners as Sassanach, which in our world is a Scottish Highland word for people of English background.

It is hard to believe that some enterprising mainstream publisher hasn’t snapped up this exciting adventure, but mainstream publishers nowadays don’t stray far from what they consider a sure thing. Some surprisingly skilled authors are having to find other ways to publish. The strikes against INGELD’S DAUGHTER are: 1) author Carla Nayland is new to fiction – though fortunately her long experience in writing nonfiction has given her none of the usual flaws such a background can give; and 2) adventure with a touch of the intellectual is not fashionable with publishers. INGELD’S DAUGHTER is one of those unsung books you should have access to. You can find it here.

July 2006


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