May my poem pass like a breeze
through the sedge by the Styx,
its singing bringing solace,
lull to sleep those who wait.
***MONDO SPOILERS HERE*****
Erlendur is off in the east, where he grew up and where his brother was lost out on the moors during a terrible storm. He periodically goes out and hikes the area, looking for a sign of Bergur’s fate. While he is there this time, he also comes across the tale of another disappearance involving a woman lost in a storm some 60 years earlier. Because it’s who he is, to his very bones, he takes it upon himself to try to unravel that mystery.
Also interspersed throughout the novel are passages that fully flesh out the circumstances surrounding his brother’s disappearance. Indridason writes so movingly about that time and about the torture Erlendur has put himself through. We learn that he believes that since he insisted his younger brother join he and his father on that fateful day, he alone is responsible, not just for the loss of his brother but for the eventual disintegration of his family.
Many sections of this book center on someone who we believe is Erlendur, apparently coming in and out of consciousness, fighting the cold. A traveler speaks to him, but it is the entity behind him that Erlendur longs to see and to know. It is soon revealed that it is his brother, reaching out his hand to him, so they can walk in the light together once again. I am saddened, to be sure, but the end, his end, is as poetic and natural as could be. Godspeed, Erlendur, may you rest in peace.