In the Wilderness Characters

  • Last updated on December 10, 2021

Author: Sigrid Undset

First published: Olav Audunssøn i Hestviken and Olav Audunssøn og hans børn, 1925–1927 (The Master of Hestviken, 1928–1930; volume 3, In the Wilderness, 1929; the complete tetrology The Master of Hestviken published in 1934)

Genre: Novel

Locale: Norway

Plot: Historical

Time: Early fourteenth century

Olav Audunssøn, the master of Hestviken. When his wife dies, he goes to England. There he is tempted by the pleasures of the flesh and of violence—part of his redemption, he believes, for his unconfessed crime of murder. He returns to Hestviken, where there is conflict between him and his supposed son Eirik. Wounded while fighting the invading Swedes, Olav recovers but feels that he has become an old man.

Eirik, the son of Olav's late wife Ingunn and falsely claimed by Olav. After much conflict, he leaves Hestviken and is reported to be among the men-at-arms at Oslo. Olav goes there to provide Eirik with money and a squire's gear, and the two part amiably.

Cecilia Olavsdatter, the daughter of Olav and Ingunn. A healthy, spirited girl, on one occasion she slashes a man who, after a drinking party, tries to seize her. Olav feels that she should be the boy of the house.

Asger Magnusson, an old friend of Olav. Dying, he asks Olav to foster his daughter.

Bothild Asgersdatter, who, after her father's death, goes to Hestviken, where she and Cecilia live as sisters.

Maerta Birgersdatter, the mother-in-law of Asger. She comes with her granddaughter Bothild to Hestviken. Grim, gaunt, but capable, she runs the house well but does not get along with Eirik.

Torhild Björnsdatter, the mother of a child by Olav; she lives at Rundmyr, the farm he gave her and carries on for her. After she marries, Olav asks her to send their son to live with him, but she refuses.

Ketil, a young man on the farm. Torhild marries him.

Björn, the son of Torhild and Olav.

Liv, a slatternly serving-woman at Hestviken. Returning from England, Olav marries her to his housecarl and sends the pair to live at Rundmyr, so that she will not corrupt his daughter.

Arnketil, Olav's housecarl, married to Liv. After their move, Rundmyr gets a bad name as a place of gaming and wenching and as a thieves' den.

Sira Hallbjorn, a priest who loves falconry and hunting. Olav is often in his company. Sira is killed fighting the invading Swedes.

Sir Ragnvald Torvaldsson, a skillful and courtly knight whom Eirik serves in Oslo.

Duke Eirik, the leader of the invading Swedish troops.

King Haakon, Duke Eirik's father-in-law, against whom the duke is directing his troops.

Categories: Characters