The Sorrow Stone

Kari Gislason

The Sorrow Stone
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The Sorrow Stone

Kari Gislason

After committing an audacious act of revenge for her brother’s murder, Disa flees with her son Sindri through the fjords of Iceland. She has already endured the death of her loved ones. Now she must run to save her son, and her honour. In a society where betrayals and revenge killings are rife, all Disa has is her pride and her courage. Will it be enough for her and her son to escape retribution?

Dramatic and urgent in its telling, The Sorrow Stone celebrates one woman’s quest, against the dramatic backdrop of the Icelandic countryside. In this gripping novel, the co-author of the bestselling Saga Land takes a sidelined figure from the Viking tales and finally puts her where she belongs - at the centre of the story.



The Sorrow Stone by Kári Gíslason is without doubt the book I was most looking forward to reading this year. I have been an avid fan of his work since I read his extraordinary memoir The Promise of Iceland in 2011. As a writer and professor of creative writing at Queensland University of Technology, Gíslason’s ability to compose breathtaking paragraphs should come as no surprise. And yet, his writing takes my breath away every single time.

Inspired by events preserved in the medieval Icelandic sagas Gísla Saga (The Saga of Gisli) and Eyrbyggja Saga (The Saga of the People of Eyri), The Sorrow Stone’s focus is the character of Disa. Based on a woman named Thordis Sursdottir – a sidelined figure of the Viking tales until now – Disa is full of steely determination to save her son, Sindri, and her own honour. She is fleeing retribution for avenging her brother’s murder, chased across the Icelandic fjords. This countryside, much like those who pursue Disa and Sindri, is harsh and unforgiving, and as much a character of this stunning novel as any of the people named in these pages.

I was wholly and immediately immersed in this entirely new take on the story of Disa. Harshly judged by history, she is a complex figure, and it’s only fitting that a writer of Gíslason’s calibre should be the one to offer a different perspective on who she might have really been and why. Like the epic Icelandic sagas that inspired this sparse, gritty, captivating novel, I have no doubt The Sorrow Stone will be read by generations to come.

Tye Cattanach is a bookseller at Readings Carlton.

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