- Virginia Johnson
There was a dragon in the sky the night the stranger came to Smolsund farm. A girl named Ran saw it and feared it. She clutched the tiny silver hammer, a talisman for Thor's protection. Amma, her father's mother, had placed it around her neck. She knew that her grandmother was worried for her, too. The Fated Sky, by Henrietta Branford, tells of how Ran's fears for her destiny came to be realized.
A child still in some ways, Ran shared her name with a sea goddess, and she also loved the sea. Her father was away now across the ocean with her brothers, and they might bring back riches when they returned, for that was the way of the Vikings. Ran dreamed of the day her father would return. She was so much like him: his dark hair and his proud features. Ran prayed for his safe homecoming. She prayed he did not feast with that other Ran at the bottom of the ocean.
When the storm blew in at dawn, Ran climbed the slope to the house. She saw her mother, still a beautiful woman, kissing a handsome man who was not her father!
The stranger's name was Vigut, and he brought news of the death of her father and brothers on the faraway waters. He and Ran's mother had loved each other, but she married another because her family wished it.
Ran's mother had never pretended any love for her husband or the light-eyed daughter who so resembled him. They always fought bitterly, and Ran was glad when her father was home to stand between them.
When Vigut came, it was the beginning of winter when the great sacrifice to Odin must be made. This year her father was gone, and it was Vigut who rode beside her mother in the sledge, laughing and delighting in his sweetheart's company. Together they would join the feast and the sacrifice at the neighboring farmstead of Sessing. Ran sat behind them, alone in her thoughts. She had never been away from her family's farm.
Out in the cold darkness, grief and betrayal await Ran, who must face the challenges fate has decreed for her.