In Rosemary Sutcliff’s Sword Song sixteen-year-old Bjarni Sigurdson, a young Norwegian living in the Viking settlement of Rfanglas, is exiled for five years by the chief, Rafn Cedricson, for the hot-tempered murder of a priest, so breaking an oath Cedricson had sworn to his foster-brother to protect Christians within his lands. Bjarni joins a merchant ship sailing for Dublin from where, robbed of his possessions but with a new companion, a stray hound he calls Hugin, he embarks on a career as a mercenary in the wars between the clan chiefs in Ireland, Wales and the Scottish Isles. On Mull, he falls under the influence of the chief’s devoutly Christian mother Lady Aud, and after a chance meeting on a journey with her to the monastery on Iona, he is able to return and absolve Rafn Cedricson for the breaking of his vow.
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