Last time we were together, we discovered that Andrea and Cnut are lifemates (which is not Life Alert). Or they think they’re lifemates. I had a terrible aside about how much I hate Andrea, then Andrea can’t even hear the word “crucified” without getting all uppity, I was briefly Here For This, then there was a terrible cock-a-doodle-doo pun and more terrible sex and I was Not Here For This.
Epigraph menu: A Homecoming Celebration
Most of this is pretty normal until we get to “buttered lutefisk or lye-fish.” Lutefisk is lye fish. Lutefisk means lye fish. As a Minnesotan whose family cooked lutefisk for Christmas every year until fairly recently, this is important to me. Lutefisk is disgusting and slithers down your throat, but it is still a Christmas staple and lutefisk is lye fish. Also, why would you serve it “beaten and broken into fibrous pieces”? You literally soak it in lye, then soak it in water, then cook it. Why would you beat it into fibrous pieces?!
Oh look. More manchet bread. In case you don’t remember my rant about manchet bread (or sourdough!) you can find it in part 7.
Epigraph: And then a Christmas visitor arrived…
I don’t remember who was talking about the number of ellipses on the back of the book I found in Duluth, but she loves them.
So Cnut is stalking Andrea. Well, not stalking. Following her. Everywhere. Yeah, that’s kinda stalk-y, except Andrea doesn’t care. Also, what happened to her nickname? At the beginning it was Andy this and Andy that and now she’s exclusively Andrea. He brings up that he’s supposed to be celibate, and she reminds him his brothers are married which “wasn’t supposed to happen.” So I’m not sure why he’s so surprised when half his brothers (more?) are married and I think one has children. But the woman (or man, but in a disappointingly heteronormative way) has to agree to live as long as the man (or woman, but in a disappointingly heteronormative way) does.
That had puzzled her, but only for a moment. “But that could be five hundred years.”
“Or five days.”
“Wow! What will Michael do to you for breaking your vows of celibacy?”
Wow. She says… wow. Idk, if the guy I had fallen in love with was suddenly like “yeah, it could be five hundred years or five days” I’d give it a little more than “wow.”
Andrea gets put to writing the list of their inventory and she makes a joke about the plural of grouse being greese, and normally I’m all here for grammar jokes but good god girl. Andrea thinks they’ll make it through the winter. Finn is pretty specific that they won’t. Way to puncture a girl’s dreams.
Cnut is getting glutton-y again, eating six whole bowls of soup, and deciding that he’d rather have a French baguette with Brie cheese rather than manchet bread (which is French bread my god somebody stop this woman please) and skyr. Andrea misses Game of Thrones, which will only be relevant for so much longer.
Thorkel winked at Andrea and she smiled back. Cnut didn’t like it. If this ends up as some sort of brawl, I’m throwing my phone across the room in a rage. (I’m not actually gonna do that, but I will emotionally throw my phone across the room in a rage.) So Cnut starts calling her “dearling” which is… weird. So, so weird. Why dearling. Why not darling or dear or even sweetling. I was here for sweetling earlier.
I’m already frustrated with this jealousy plotline. Bro, you’ve had sex like three times. You may be lifemates, but you do not get to decide who she gets to smile at.
Thorkel wants to marry Dyna during Christmas. Cnut wants Thorkel to take over as jarl if he disappears. Cool. Moving right along.
And speaking of moving right along, four sledges showed up piled high with food because convenient. And Princess Reynilda is coming along with them. Who used to be betrothed to Cnut, which provides the perfect jealousy for Andrea. Why do we need a jealousy story? Why can’t we just have a nice, friendly story where everyone is sexy, Andrea Isn’t Like Other Girls (TM), and there are demons and vampires?
Oh look, Reynilda is gorgeous. Andrea is definitely gonna be jealous and I’m already bored. Cnut hugged her because she said “Beloved” and apparently he had no choice but to hug her after that? and Andrea took off and was missing throughout the entire feast. But Cnut isn’t gonna lower himself to searching for her, absolutely not.
A voice in Cnut’s said he won’t figure out women in a thousand years, but despite having decided earlier that he was hearing Michael’s voice in his head, he decides he’s talking to himself this time. Cnut, make up your mind!
Epigraph 2: There are red-eyed Lucipire monsters, and then there are green-eyed monsters. Both formidable creatures…
LOOK JEALOUSY. I’m outraged.
Reynilda is a bitch. A conniving bitch. And I’m fucking over the shaming in this book. Andrea, you’re both clearly stuck together stop being all paranoid over Reynilda!
Reynilda pretended she thought Andrea was a servant, then mocked her for being a cook, and Cnut just stood there. I’m already so over this storyline. I hope my rage is pouring out here. This is awful. Give me demons. Give me death and destruction and mayhem. Give me the other woman before they’ve had sex and pledged their undying love and all that nonsense.
So she slept in a “sleep closet” whatever that is. And they made Dyna a wedding dress. And Andrea found a green dress, which she was holding when she left the treasure room. And Reynilda asked Cnut if the cook could make her something, and somehow seeing her holding the key to the treasure room and the dress… mattered to her? I’m so confused. This girl better leave just because I actually cannot handle this.
Seeing Reynilda flutter her eyelashes at Cnut reminded Andrea that, oh, right, her sister! The person she’s been looking for! RIGHT! Jesus Christ.
Then Cnut whisks Andrea off to his bedroom and was all “I waited for you” and she was all grumpy but didn’t say “hey, douchebag, maybe defend me a little when your ex-girlfriend assumes I’m just a lowly cook.”
…She just referred to him as the Tinglemaster and I need some bleach.
He doesn’t know why she’s angry because he’s an actual idiot. And then this happens:
“Reynilda.” That one word said it all, or should. She tried to shove his hands away, but they just landed on other forbidden spots. Her breasts. And traitorous critters that they were, they rose and purled like needy kittens up for a petting.
WHAT THE HELL IS HAPPENING TO THIS WOMAN’S BREASTS. She needs a doctor. Or an exorcist.
Apparently Reynilda broke up with Cnut because he was fat. Aaaand Andrea just called her a “pretentious, self-serving bitch.” Could we not call every woman a bitch? She (and everyone who came with her) smells like a “rank lemon” and I’m not sure what exactly that smell is, but apparently that’s the same smell as the demons have.
OH MY GOD. He asks her to “explore yon pond” with him, and after a few toad jokes, he says “I give good wart.”
Somebody stop this woman. I’m not kidding. Who was her editor? Why did they not stop with these absolutely terrible puns. They’re not even puns!
Then there was some sex, and then Finn interrupted them because Girda and Reynilda are fighting.
Epigraph menu: A Yuletide Feast
Lots of turnips, because Reynilda said she didn’t like them. You go be petty, girl.
Epigraph: Here comes the bride… and the devil in disguise…
I’m done with all these ellipses.
Apparently the food wasn’t to Reynilda’s liking. Rancid butter or milk used instead of cream or something. I’m so over this woman. She can go jump off a bridge. Andrea offers to make her breakfast for some reason, then Reynilda and the menfolk go wandering about to bring a Yule log into the hall. She complains the entire time and bitches about how awful Andrea is.
More preparations for Dyna and Thorkel’s wedding.
Cnut is still a glutton.
Supposedly Reynilda poisoned her husband because he wouldn’t take her to the Althing. She took everything from Storm’s Lair before Bjorg got there to take over, and Farle thinks she’s going to poison Andrea, so Cnut storms out to tell her not to eat or drink anything before he tastes it.
Can vangels be poisoned?
Then a man with a turban pops up and, surprise surprise, it’s Zeb. Then Cnut has the weirdest mental conversation with his brothers about what Cnut’s Christmas present was (Zeb) and I’m just… really confused. And maybe it wasn’t a mental conversation, ’cause Andrea heard him.
And Reynilda makes a beeline for Zeb.
Epigraph 2: The bride wore blue, the groom wore a grin…
Andrea is sitting on Cnut’s right all fancy-like and Reynilda sits on his left “looking like the Princess in Pink, with her breasts pushed up so high in the rounded neckline that she could just as well be called Princess of Boobland.”
Why do we keep slut shaming. Girl can wear what girl wants to wear. Cnut’s made it pretty clear he only wants Andrea, so idk why she’s all anxious over what Reynilda is wearing.
Dyna’s pretty. Thorkel’s handsome. Cool.
Reynilda made a… joke? about Jewish men. Andrea countered with… sort of a joke? about Vikings.
And Andrea doesn’t make the connection that Zeb is the same Zeb that planned to kill Cnut, because there are so many people named Zeb or Zebulan the Hebrew. And when she finally caught on, they made a dick joke.
I’m honestly not even gonna read this wedding because I bet you so much money there was no research done into Viking weddings. Except they called the god of fertility Frey, when the goddess of fertility was Freyja and the god of fertility was Freyr. Nobody is named Frey.
There’s a skol (well, a skål, but that’s close enough to skol). Then Reynilda eats a cream-filled donut, gets a bunch of filling on her dress, pitches a fit, and Cnut takes her to change. Andrea gets angry.
Zeb asks her how she’d like to go back to Philadelphia.