Review Blog

Jan 15 2020

Saga by Nikki McWatters

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University of Queensland Press, 2019. ISBN: 9780702262517.
(Age: 13+) Recommended. Three eras, three random women in a long matriarchal line beginning in the 11th Century with Astrid, a priestess of the Temple of the Goddess Nerthus, fighting to save her doctrine and community from destruction by the Roman Church. Even the mighty Vikings convert and threaten everything Astrid holds dear. Her second sight and her role as the Skaldmaer, in learning to write the King's epic poems, prompts her to record the tenants of her religion for posterity. Unfortunately, she is distracted by King Olav, her childhood sweetheart, proposing marriage and making her an enemy of the state.
Fast forward to the 19th Century to an orphaned girl purchased from the Glasgow Poorhouse by a ruthless undertaker. Mercy escapes to London where her bold nature opens another door, indentured to novelist and feminist, Anne Radcliffe. Mercy is self-taught but Anne completes her education as a social experiment. Though thriving, Mercy longs to discover her true identity returning to Glasgow to use her skills to help educate poor children.
McWatters must imagine a modern counterpart and this time it is Mia, living in present day Australia, who inherits the ancient book Systir Saga. Ostensibly a valuable family record, written in an ancient language, she and her bestie travel from the Blue Mountains to an island in Scotland to learn about her mysterious heritage.
Saga completes the trilogy, which began with Hexanhaus, then Liberty. Like these earlier novels, Saga may stand alone but the rule of three still applies - three strong women, three periods in human history, weaving intergenerational new characters to highlight all nine heroines in a long matriarchal line, championing the meek and changing the course of history. One for both feminists and fans of historical fiction. Teacher's notes are available.
Deborah Robins

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