The Salt of Ancient Tears
Perched at the edge of civilization, Greenland’s last Norse colony struggles to survive. In addition to the deteriorating climate, Skrælingjar, wild men from the north, are raiding farms, stealing iron, livestock, and even children. Then, at the dawn of the 15th century, the Norsemen suddenly disappear without a trace. It is here, locked into the mystery of this lost Viking colony, that two strangers in modern Oslo come to find meaning in their lives. Drawn together by an ancient Norse symbol, the Jörmungandr, they uncover truths that will help them heal ancient wounds and realize the undying love denied them long ago.
JULIA RIPSSKOG, a successful thirty-two-year-old lawyer, devotes her time to running her private law firm. Although lonely, she keeps men at arm’s length due to insurmountable trust issues and chronic angst. Julia senses she’s missing out, but can’t commit in relationships. Only her pro bono work assisting Oslo’s battered women gives meaning to her life. MAGNUS FOSS, a talented but disillusioned painter, lives the seemingly carefree life of a gifted and attractive young man. Yet he feels he’s going nowhere; his chronic indecisiveness keeps him nailed in place. While Julia does her best to repress her dreams, Magnus finds solace in his, a vivid world that seems more real to him than his actual existence, and which gives him a needed sense of belonging.
Julia, unaware of its archetypical character, has incorporated the Jörmungandr, an ancient Viking symbol of a serpent swallowing its tail, into her firm’s logo. On the other side of Oslo, Magnus finds himself painting his own abstract version of the Jörmungandr, also unaware of its historical significance. As their life choices become challenged, they both, independently of one another, stumble across LEONARD KOLL, an enigmatic physician, whose clinic signpost also features the Jörmungandr. Through Leonard’s unorthodox combination of acupuncture and hypnosis—the ancient Tibetan Wind in the Blood—Julia and Magnus are launched on each their own cathartic inner journeys. They soon find themselves in the center of a medieval Norse drama, a strange dream world in which they can perceive, but not act. Bonded to the personalities of Greenland chieftain EIRIK THORVALDSSON and his wife, ASTRID OLAVSDATTER, they experience, unbeknownst to each other’s modern personae, a brutal, yet passionate world that has long haunted their thoughts and dreams.
A chance encounter between Julia and Magnus sets the stage for a modern saga, presenting them with an opportunity to resolve their ill-starred fates. Despite apparent differences, they find themselves inexplicably drawn to one another. When Julia’s latest pro bono case, a brutal rape implicating hotel magnate KARSTEN HOLSTEIN, coincides with Magnus’s commission to paint Karsten’s portrait, they end up collaborating in a seemingly hopeless battle against money and power.
Meanwhile, their sense of foreboding grows each time they ‘return’ to the past. At last, the mystery of Greenland’s lost Norse settlement begins to unravel. The fragile colony is raided by a sadistic Portuguese slave trader, CAPTAIN DIEGO MENDEZ. Eirik’s fate is sealed when he’s duped into making an impossible choice: his wife or his son. Deceived by the Portuguese captain, THORMOD, Astrid and Eirik’s only child, is murdered before their eyes, dropped through a hole in an ice-covered river by Mendez. His people either killed or enslaved, Eirik suffers the final humiliation, left abandoned on Greenland, the sole witness of the passing of the last Norse settlement as it disappears into the mists of time. Astrid’s fate is no better; enslaved, she is taken to Madeira, where she allows herself to become Mendez’s favorite concubine in order to save a young woman from his sadistic abuse.
Even though centuries have gone by, the inconsolable feeling of pain and loss lives on in the tortured souls of Julia and Magnus, demanding closure. Through Leonard’s regression therapy, it’s revealed that the destinies of Julia, Magnus, and Karsten are inextricably intertwined with the fate of the Greenland Vikings. Furthermore, Julia and Magnus realize that winning the court case against Karsten, whom they have come to believe is the present embodiment of Captain Diego Mendez, is the key to that closure. With Magnus’s help, Julia defeats Karsten in court, utilizing knowledge gleaned from the past. During Julia’s last session, Leonard learns that Thormod had a circle-like birthmark, a Jörmungandr, on the back of his neck. Bearing an identical birthmark himself, Leonard realizes the depth of his connection with Julia and Magnus: he himself was Thormod their lost son. He also recognizes that this convergence of souls is far from mere chance, but rather a fateful window of opportunity.
Having finally understood the connection between the present and the past, Leonard arranges for Julia and Magnus to meet at his remote cabin, where they finally come to recognize each other’s past identities. Astrid and Eirik’s undying love, transcending age-old tragedy, finds fulfillment in the union of Julia and Magnus. And thus, the Jörmungandr circle closes.