[Editor’s Note: Our interview with Corrina Lawson ran in the Spring Equinox 2010 issue of Eternal Haunted Summer. This issue, Scott Mohnkern takes a look at Lawson’s debut novella, Freya’s Gift.]
Title: Freya’s Gift
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Author: Corrina Lawson
When I received my copy of Freya’s Gift, I perused the first few pages and encountered the following:
“Warning: This title contains m/m/f sex, gay sex, anal sex, double penetration and good, clean fun with two hot Vikings and an ancient spring.”
My first thoughts on this were “am I about to read some porn novel with no plot whatsoever, that throws the concept of Viking history and what it means to be Viking completely to the side in favor of good, honest, steamy, kinky sex?” In part, this was true, but there was plot. It wasn’t just a novel with hot kinky sex scenes together with a few paragraphs of plot.
But as I read it, I found myself putting on “different hats” as I looked at various aspects of the novel. So as I write this review, it only seems appropriate to put on these different hats again.
From a Historical Perspective
The author did an excellent job of creating the “feeling” of a Viking village. While the details were sometimes weak, I found myself constantly feeling the difficulty that comes with the Viking way of life. Many times, as we think of the Vikings, we forget that they indeed had very hard lives. Death in battle, while glorious, was not the only way that people died. Weather, disease, and starvation were also commonplace. The author does an excellent job of creating this feeling in the pages of the novel.
However, when we move to sexuality, the author has chosen to disregard the history of sexuality when it comes to same sex relationships. There’s an off-hand comment about the social implications of same sex relationships between men during this period, but I wanted there to be more. Given the true conflict that exists within the novel (sexual interaction between three people) and its final resolution, I felt that the prior same sex relationship was gratuitous, and it would have been better if it had been “fleshed out” more.
I kept feeling like the nature of the conflict was an attempt to delve into the concept of polyamory, which didn’t truly exist historically as we see it practiced today. However, it’s not clear whether the author is trying to explore the bounds of polyamory, or something of a purely sexual nature in the encounters she describes.
From a Heathen/Pagan Perspective
In her imagery with respect to signs, the author did an excellent job. She used scenes that I found would be consistent with what a pagan would see both in modern times, and from a historical perspective. However, I don’t feel as though the author had a good handle on the nature of how Heathens (as opposed to pagans) typically view their relationship with deity. There’s an ongoing theme of “because Freyja demands it.” There’s no real explanation as to why she demands it, and Heathens tend to be extremely pragmatic about the nature of sacrifice, and typically demand a logic in the sacrifices they make. Ultimately I felt that there was a level of misunderstanding about the nature of the Norse deities, and Freyja in particular. You could have just as easily set this novel on a Greek isle, turned Freyja into Aphrodite, and had the same novel.
From a Polyamory Perspective
Throughout the novel, I felt like the author was trying to explore the bounds of polyamory, by having repeated threesomes in the novel. However, it’s my feeling that the author doesn’t understand that polyamorous relationships are not solely about sexuality. The author seems to focus on this concept of three-way relationships being about sex.
In addition, it just felt “wrong” to me to have the gods demanding a three way sexual relationship, even if it was a one time event, even though the parties didn’t want it. It had a feeling of non-consensuality at the hands of the gods.
From an Entertainment Perspective
Despite all the historical inaccuracies, and the problems I had with this novel from a pagan perspective, I have to admit that it’s an entertaining read. The scenes with sexuality in them are well written, and entertaining. The descriptions of the Viking life are interesting and engaging. It’s definitely a book I’d think about putting on my Kindle and taking to the beach for an afternoon read. Just don’t expect it to give you a lot of insight into Heathenry or polyamory.
[Scott Mohnkern is the author of A Year of Viking Rituals and Hanging From the Tree: Living With the Runes.]