Putting a Face on Freaw

Have you ever felt ignored, unnoticed, kept in the shadows, passed over?

For hundreds of years, one woman has existed only as a name: Freawaru – a single name from a single manuscript surviving from the tenth century. Her brief mention in the epic, Beowulf, intrigued me throughout my teaching career. When I finally decided to retire and write a novel about the women of Beowulf, I chose Freaw as my heroine. Faces in the Fire is her story, set within the context of the events in the original epic.

Have you ever been afraid of the dark? Feared there might be a monster lurking in your closet or under your bed? As a child and young girl, Freaw must endure the terror of nightly raids by Grendel, a man-eating monster. She must watch, helpless, as many of those she loves fall prey to its greed.

Has your family ever made plans for you or held expectations that you did not share? As she comes of age, Freaw is asked to play a significant role in tribal politics. She is challenged to act as a peace-weaver in an arranged marriage with a rival chieftain. Her mystical connection with the Norse goddess Freyja brings a kind of power in the form of visions predicting future events. But this power is unfocused and uncontrolled, leaving her vulnerable to the influence of others.

Freaw has much to learn as she struggles to find her way in a world of stark realities.  Despite the passage of hundreds of years, her story could be the story of each of us.


One response

  1. Brooke Sawyer

    This post certainly resonated with me in a major way. I think Freaw’s story is highly applicable to any woman, of any time period. We all certainly struggle to live authentic lives while still pleasing those we love. Her story is universal. For nothing is more heartbreaking than losing oneself in the quest to please others.

    It raises a few questions: how far are you willing to go to meet the expectations of others? How much of yourself are you willing to sacrifice to please the ones you love? And if you lose yourself and fail to live an authentic life, are you still able to please others?

    Great post!

    April 21, 2011 at 10:18 am

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